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Maria F. – Medical Office Assistant Program Alumni

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Maria F. hails from Mexico and has a passion for helping people. When she first came to Canada, she didn’t really know how to go after her goals of making the lives of others better, but she decided to pursue work in the medical field.


Maria’s uncertainty was ultimately her driving factor. She wasn’t sure how she wanted to help, but she found the Medical Office Assistant program at CDI College and realized it would be a good place to get into a job that would allow her to follow her passions.


The COVID-19 pandemic was a motivating factor. For two years during the start of the pandemic, she felt unmotivated. Maria wanted to help, but the isolation of being stuck inside wasn’t helping. Her desire to feel useful pushed her to pursue the Medical Office Assistant program at CDI College.


Entering the Program


When she was just starting out in the program, Maria’s initial goals were to get the experience she needed to land a job. But because she had never been involved in the healthcare sector, she knew it might pose a challenge. She also found herself challenged by language. Coming from Mexico, she had grown up speaking Spanish. Attending classes in English was a big change.


The experience presented a big shift in lifestyle, as she had to learn to adapt to going back to school and finding a balance between school and life for the first time in four years. Maria credits her success to the support she received from her classmates.


They would go for coffee, chat on their Facebook group, and support each other when anyone needed help. Likewise, her instructors encouraged her not to give up when they struggled. Maria said that her instructors were very understanding of everyone’s situation.


Starting Work


Maria stayed the course and began her workplace practicum at the BC Cancer Clinic in Vancouver.


At first, Maria found her workplace placement difficult. Working at the Cancer Clinic came with its own unique sets of challenges. She didn’t realize how much she would be emotionally affected when patients she had bonded with would pass away.


Loss was very challenging for Maria, but the people she worked with—doctors and nurses—were very patient with her. They encouraged her and were sympathetic to her situation of starting work in an emotionally demanding environment. Maria said that the clinic provided a good support structure, including on-the-job counselling to help employees cope with the challenges of a role working with critically ill patients.


Even though she isn’t the one performing surgery or helping patients with their treatment, Maria has an important role in the healthcare sector. Her job is instrumental in helping people get their appointments lined up and aiding them in securing the documents they need.


Maria said that there is a very long waitlist and some people require more urgent care than others. She wants to help everyone who comes through the door, both in setting up appointments and receiving care. Unfortunately, there are few spaces available for new patients.


“It’s hard to tell a patient, ‘I can’t fit you in’,” Maria said. While she’s sympathetic to patients’ frustrations and helps where she can, sometimes her role requires her to set boundaries.


The Future


Her career is just starting out, but Maria already knows that she wants to stay on as a Medical Office Assistant. Eventually, she would like to move into patient management and develop more responsibilities within the clinic. She is passionate about helping people and contributing to their recovery and wellness.


She credits CDI College with helping her find the job and discover a lifelong passion. Her advice to students who are looking for similar success is to stick with it, be persistent, and ask for advice from instructors—they, like herself, are always trying to help when uncertainties arise.


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