OBC Alumni Spotlight: Erica Collins
Posted on February 27, 2017
Written by Elizabeth Truxell
Erica Collins, a graduate of OBC’s medical assisting diploma program and former STNA, realized she missed the medical field and knew it was time to advance her life and career. She decided to return to school and become a medical assistant.
Discover OBC’s medical assisting program first-hand by reading about Erica’s time and experiences at OBC:
- Why did you decide to continue your education at Ohio Business College?
I was working a job for a non-profit organization. The benefits weren’t the greatest and there were no raises or chances to move up in the organization. We were having a training for first aid and my former boss had mentioned she noticed how well I did at the training; she knew I was a previous STNA. She said, “I hate to tell you this because I’d miss you a ton but you belong back there.”
I did miss [being an STNA] very much. I knew someday I’d go back to it, but the question was, when?
So, that day I left work and went to LCCC to check out the medical field classes and what they had to offer. I was 43 at the time and didn’t want to go to a four-year college. I wanted to get started in the field as soon as possible. I figured I’d start with being a medical assistant and then work my way up from there. [Unfortunately, there was] a 2-3 year waiting period [to enter the program at LCCC]. That would have [set me back]. I said, “Look at me, I’m old. I don’t have that kind of time.”
I had heard of OBC and saw commercials on TV. I knew there was a branch close to me, so I called to see if I could take a tour. Rosemerry Nickels, OBC’s Director of Admissions, was very pleasant on the phone and set an appointment for me to check out the school.
As I walked through the halls and labs, I knew it was my calling. It was like hanging a steak in front of a dog. I had to experience it. I felt at home. Knowing I could get right in and didn’t have to take an entrance test or wait, I immediately signed up. She gave me the information I needed to get started and I met with the financial aid staff. They helped me through the financial part of it and let me know what to do. If I had any questions, they answered them.
- Why did you enroll in the Medical Assisting Program?
I’ve always had a passion for helping people and performing hands-on care. From the time I was about 18 years old, I loved to read medical books – which came in handy when I did take OBC’s medical assisting classes.
I make it a habit to help one person a day, no matter where I am. I go to sleep every night knowing I did my good deed for the day. I imagined all the good deeds I could do if I worked in the medical field.
- What have been your favorite things about the Medical Assisting Program?
Although the instructors were absolutely wonderful, I have to say I loved working in the lab the best. It was where I could apply what I’ve learned and practice more if I needed to. There’s so much to learn [as a medical assistant and OBC’s medical assisting program] prepares you to be able to work in so many different medical settings.
- What was the most difficult or challenging thing about this program?
The most difficult thing at first was getting used to time management. By this, I mean juggling work, family time, study time, and even ‘me’ time. I would get as much done during school as I could, and plan for at least one or two hours of homework a day. We got plenty of time to get our assignments done, but if I could get them done ahead of the due dates, that eliminated some stress for me and gave me time for other things.
- How did Ohio Business College help you succeed in your studies and accomplish your goals?
OBC helped me succeed in my studies because I knew if I ever had any questions, they were always there to help answer them. The instructors were always there for the students. They even came in on our off days so we could get ahead or catch up on stuff we may have missed in lab. That alone meant so much. They went the extra mile to make sure we understood things.
After my externship, OBC’s career services office was exceptional. They helped me write a resume and complete mock interviews. At my age, I had never experienced a telephone or panel interview in my life. They prepped me for it and I didn’t feel any pressure with any of it.
Tina Hutchinson, OBC’s Externship Coordinator/Career Services Associate, was such a help and she said such positive things that really helped me through it. She would say, “Call me as soon as they set up the interview and I will prep you for it.” Then, she would email me to see how the interview went.
Tina and Cheryl Jankowski, OBC’s Career Services Director, both kept in contact with me and that made me feel that I wasn’t alone in my job search and just thrown to the wolves.
Even though my time at OBC is done, I still feel attached because everyone made me feel like we would always be a team. What I love about OBC is even after you graduate, you can always call them for help with resume or job questions. I don’t know of any other schools that do that. Once you are there, you have help for life.
- Tell us about your externship.
For my externship, I did 184 hours but only 180 hours were needed. I went to UH Center for Orthopedics. It was a great experience for me. The people were nice there and my days went really fast. I will admit, at first I was nervous, but they showed me how to do everything and – only if I felt comfortable – they let me do it on my own.
I got to draw medications in syringes for injections, room patients, stock rooms, enter information into the computer system, and remove sutures and staples. I also got to work in the cast room which was pretty interesting. Seeing pins removed out of fingers was my favorite part.
All in all, my externship let me know what it was like in the field.
- Do you have a favorite memory about attending OBC? If so, what is it?
My favorite memory about OBC was getting to help with the practicum for the quarter ahead of our quarter. I got to act like an impatient person in a waiting room; it was so fun. I changed it up and even acted like an impatient old lady. We had so many laughs but that was just one of them.
I also enjoyed volunteering at the Women Empowerment Weekend and going to daycare centers to help measure, weigh, and test the children’s hearing.
- What do you think sets OBC apart from other career education schools?
I think the fact that I know they will always be there for me, even long after graduation, sets OBC high above other career education schools. They will always be a phone call or email away. You’re not just another person graduating that they will never help again, like other schools. That means the most to me.
- What are you up to now?
I recently received my RMA (Registered Medical Assistant) and have scheduled to take my CMA (Certified Medical Assistant). I will be starting at the Cleveland Clinic in Avon at the Richard E. Jacobs Health Center on February 13, 2017. I have OBC to thank for helping me through and always being there. Their staff is amazing.
- What advice or tips do you have for prospective and current OBC Medical Assisting students?
My advice to others who are thinking about attending OBC is: You need to have good time management or learn to have it. I also advise to get things done and turned in as soon as you can. A daily planner was a wonderful help to me and my classmates. Attendance is also a very important part of your grade, along with participation.
Do what is asked of you and you will do fine. Ask questions when you need to; the instructors are there to help you. In the end, you will feel like family to the students and staff there. I miss walking those halls and my OBC family. They have put footprints in my memories and I will forever be thankful.
Learn more about OBC’s Medical Assisting diploma program, and jumpstart your medical career today.