WPCC Helps Medical Assistant Advance In Career

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Medical Assistant Trisha Strickland in her office

Trisha Strickland in her office

When Trisha Strickland had known early on that she wanted to work in the medical field but it only after coming to Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) that she realized she could earn a degree in medical assisting.  Graduating from the program in 1999, Strickland has over 16 years of experience in the field, is a Certified Medical Assistant, and has recently taken on the position of Practice Manager at Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge Urgent Care – Morganton.  In this position, she oversees all aspects of the office.

When she began her career, Strickland knew that she wanted to find a position that would enable her to grow in addition to being stable.  She stated, “I wanted to grow roots and develop relationships with my patients.”  Before taking on her new role at Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, she worked for one health care provider for 17 years, and served as the clinical supervisor.  She enjoyed her time especially as she has found patient care to be professional rewarding.

Strickland takes pride in her medical assisting degree and what it has enabled her to accomplish professionally.  She explained, “Having a medical assisting degree means that I am able to touch a patients’ lives in a variety of aspects from the time they walk in the door until they leave.  This is because I’m qualified to perform clinical, administrative, and laboratory procedures.”

She first started her college career at a nearby community college where she was able to take some core courses.  However, she kept hearing good things about WPCC’s health programs and decided to visit the campus and learn more about the College’s course offerings.  Strickland initially had considered studying nursing.  However, after talking with WPCC Student Services staff and learning about the medical assisting degree, Strickland decided to transfer into the College’s medical assisting program.

Strickland remembered the strong WPCC faculty who taught her, “My instructors were wonderful.  Anne Giles and Nancy Shoaf both pushed you very hard. You knew if you made it through their classes, you could ultimately make it through the program and succeed.  I was initially surprised by the level of rigor in my classes but I was also glad for it.  I knew that if it was not hard, then it wouldn’t be worth it.  When a person earns a degree in health care, they are doing it for a reason.”

She also appreciated the staff support she received during her time at the College.  Strickland shared, “It was a great experience all the way around to be at Western Piedmont.  It was always very easy to approach anyone in Student Services or Financial Aid.

During her time at Western Piedmont, Strickland participated in the Medical Assisting club and took pride in the community service projects they undertook such as working with South Mountain Children’s Home.

Strickland offered this advice to anyone considering their college path, “Shop around and make sure that the field you’re going to go into is something that you will love because your work will take up a significant part of your life”.

She also emphasized the importance of pursuing higher education.  She said, “It’s a great experience to go to college regardless of what degree you come out with in the end.  Furthering your education makes you a better citizen.  You will always be proud of the fact that you earned your degree.  This is an achievement you made to improve your life.”

The Medical Assisting program will prepare students to be multi-skilled healthcare professionals who are qualified to perform administrative, clinical and laboratory procedures. Graduates of the diploma and/or degree are eligible to sit for the certification examination administered by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants.  WPCC’s Medical Assisting program has a certification exam pass rate of 100% over the past five years and the five year average for student job placement is 80.52%.   Contact Rachel Bradshaw, medical assisting coordinator, for more information at 828-448-3501 or rbradshaw@wpcc.edu.