This Is Why I’m Working as a Medical Assistant While I Advance My Education
Taylor Brune @heartsinbloomhealth is many things. To start, perhaps above all else, she is passionate about healthcare. Brune, who recently survived COVID-19, suffers from chronic autoimmune deficiencies, which began from a bite from a tick. As a result, she has had to learn and research much in the medical world so that she is as well equipped as possible to survive her severe afflictions.
On top of all that, Brune is also a Medical Assistant. In this capacity, she works with healthcare providers as a liaison to patients, in administrative capacities and other roles to ensure the facility operates smoothly. Brune, never one to shy away from a challenge, is also a student continuing her education. She is using her experience as a Medical Assistant to help transition to, one day, becoming a doctor. That is her ultimate aim.
We caught up with Brune to ask her about this long professional journey, her fight with COVID-19, her passion for healthcare and much more.
When and why did you decide you wanted to be a Medical Assistant?
The last ten years, I have dealt with my own health issues and my own health journey of developing chronic disease and autoimmune disease after a bite from a tic. So, when I lost my health, I was engulfed in the medical world and I was a patient 24-7 and having to do research for myself and be my own health advocate. In the process of learning how to heal myself, I grew the passion of wanting to help heal others.
While I was going through treatments, I was like, this is my calling. This is where I’m supposed to be. This is why I’m having my health issues and going through this huge life transition and transformation. When that realization happened, I decided to learn about medicine and how to switch my degree over to pre-med and integrative health.
Going into medical assisting school, was the first step in my path. And I’m going to be a doctor one day no matter how long it takes! No matter what challenges I face, I know that everything I’m going through in my own health is helping me transform into the best person that I can be so that I can be the best doctor for patients. Since I’ve had the perspective of being a patient for so many years, I know exactly what they’re thinking and feeling.
If you’re interested in becoming a medical assistant here is an awesome guide to start your research - it answers questions like,
- What is a medical assistant?
- What does a medical assistant do?
- What is the average medical assistant salary?
- How do you become a medical assistant?
- What are the best medical assistant programs?
- How long does it take to become a medical assistant?
After you read this interview go to the full Medical Assistant Career Guide.
What was the process like for you to become a Medical Assistant?
First, I prayed a lot about it. I knew I wanted to switch my degree to pre-med but, I also wanted to work in the medical field a lot sooner. Becoming a doctor takes years in pre-med and medical school.
So, I figured the first step to completely immerse myself in the medical field as soon as possible was to complete a medical assistant program and to actually start working in the field that I love so much. Once I graduated from my medical assistant and phlebotomy program I immediately started working in the field. The experience I’ve gained has just confirmed that this is where I’m supposed to be and I love it!
How long did the process take, what type of schooling did you get?
For medical assisting in California [where Brune lives], I needed to go to a medical assisting school. I went to a trade school and enrolled into a medical assisting program. Medical assisting programs are more about gaining hands-on experience in an actual doctor’s office. This is how the program was set up,
- Complete the required amount of classroom lecture credits
- Attend the required amount of clinicals and pass them
- Work in the field for 200 hours underneath different doctors and specialties
The program style was really beneficial to help me to get on-the-job training and also land a great position right after graduation,
- I gained a lot of valuable on-the-job experience while I was still in school
- I quickly graduated and got my diploma from medical assisting school
- I was able to apply to private practices and I got a job quickly
- I’ve been working at private practices up until now
At the same time, though, I’ve been going to Arizona State University Online to finish my Bachelor’s degree, which I’ll be finishing in the fall. This fall, I’ll have my Bachelor’s as well as my medical assisting diploma.
As a medical assistant it’s important to be certified. I took a national certification exam and every two years, I complete the required credits and retake the test to keep my certification up to date.
How did you land your first job as a Medical Assistant?
It was actually pretty easy for me because I seem to interview really well with medical places. My first job was working at a naturopathic office. Next, I went to primary care and oncology. So, that’s where I’ve been working the last year.
There’s a lot to know for the job and you have a lot of responsibilities - from first-aid to computer work to patient liaison. Do you like having all these aspects to your workday?
I love it! I have gained so much experience including,
- Customer service in front at the reception desk
- Rooming and taking care of patients in back clinical
- Helping oncology patients during their treatments
- Drawing blood in phlebotomy and lab tech
Drawing blood is my absolute favorite because I really enjoy direct patient care. But, overall working with different modalities, systems and technologies has taught me so much about the medical field. Each private practice is completely different and the providers are unique in that they offer different specialties and treatments. It’s been fun learning all these different skills.
Your long-term goal is to be a doctor. How did you choose becoming a medical assistant for that aim and how has it helped?
There are a few reasons why I chose medical assisting as my first step towards my goal of becoming a doctor,
- I love chronic disease
- Being a medical assistant gives me time to focus on my own health
- It allows me to work while advancing my education to become a doctor because pre-med takes a while.
- I wanted to give a voice to the chronic illness community - because of my own health and all the experiences I had with doctors pushing me aside. In my experience I feel that a lot of the chronic illness community is not heard. So, I really just want to make a change in how nurses, medical assistants, and all types of healthcare workers are treated. I want to help change how doctors perceive patients who have chronic illness. There are so many amazing, positive things in the medical field. But there is a lot of darkness, too. I really just want to be that light. I really feel like taking that path via doctor, I’d be able to help the patients, give them a voice that they need to feel confident in the healthcare system again - especially with chronically ill patients.
What do you like least about being a Medical Assistant or the healthcare field, in general?
For my own personal experience, I have an immune compromised self. I just don’t like that I pick up illnesses so easily. I even picked up COVID. Flu season is also difficult for me. I’m thankful for the fact that everyone is now taking more precaution in the medical field. I’ve observed that people are more mindful of sanitizing and patients are wearing masks. It gives me hope that at least this year I will have stronger defenses and not catch as many illnesses. But there’s many great things about working as a medical assistant, too. Each person has their own experience.
As a chronic illness patient myself, the one negative that I don’t like is that I feel some doctors don’t have time to really hear their patients. When I’m a doctor, that is something that I really want to change. However, I’ve been really fortunate to work with providers who are integrative in their mindset and do give their patients time. Even now, working with providers who aren’t integrative, they still give patients time and hear them. I’ve been really fortunate to work with good providers. But, from the perspective of a patient, I had to go through multiple providers to get to good ones - and, I didn’t like that.
What advice do you have for other people looking to become a Medical Assistant today - first steps, things to keep in mind?
One of the main things is to really look inside yourself and question yourself. Ask yourself really important questions like,
- Is this a career path and a life dedication that I am passionate about? I’ve found that people do get burnt out in the medical field - and it shows. Burn out only ripples back into the patient’s lives. Everything influences people’s healing. If you’re not truly serious about it or if you really don’t feel like it’s your calling then look elsewhere because everything influences people’s health.
- Will this career bring me joy? The mood of the healthcare worker and their tone could domino effect a patient’s stress levels. I believe that it could make them disbelieve in healing and being able to overcome whatever challenge they’re overcoming.
- Would you work in this field during a pandemic? If you wouldn’t work in a pandemic then it’s probably not the job for you.
As you said, you recently recovered from COVID-19. What was that experience like for you personally and professionally?
In the beginning of the year, we actually started seeing patients have lung flues and pneumonias with weird symptoms and they were just really sick in January. I believe that COVID-19 was definitely here in the United States in California in January. But we didn’t know what it was yet. But then when they started announcing it in February, we definitely got more traffic in the office and we were taking care of patients - even though it was primary and oncology, a lot of the patients in the beginning stages when they were starting to get sick would come to us. So, we were being exposed to COVID-19 and it spread through the staff.
The COVID-19 symptoms started out mild for me. I just figured it was the stress from working and being the only medical assistant since we were short-staffed during that time. Then once the rest of the clinic tested positive, I was like, “Oh, no! I think I may have it!”
I got tested. The week after I tested positive the illness became super severe for me. I have asthma and type-one diabetes - it went straight into my lungs. I decided to just face it and not be crippled by fear. I set my mind to believe that I would not die from it. Because I’d learned with my chronic illness that you just have to stay positive no matter how grim it looks. And really just focus on what you can do to heal.
During the time when it was really severe, I went to the hospital and towards the end, I was able to go home and recover.
Now, it’s been three months since I've been cleared. I still have lung damage. My body is still healing. My body is still recovering from it in that aspect. But I was very fortunate because I’ve had over ten years of experience being a chronic illness patient and working in the medical field. With that experience in mind, I knew how to take care of my immune system and listen to my body. When I got it, it was the beginning of the pandemic when doctors really didn’t know anything about it. They didn’t know what to tell me. They didn’t know how to help me. So, for a lot of it I was on my own. I had to figure out how to survive COVID-19.
Luckily, my knowledge and prayer and by the grace of God and blessings, I was able to fight it, survive it. I was able to apply my knowledge to quickly do a regimen of trying to boost my immune system fast. I made a point to not stress, not think negatively, not fear, and not feed into any of that. I just tried to stay calm through the whole thing. Eventually, after 70 days, I was cleared.
What was the most difficult symptom of COVID-19 for you?
I think, honestly, the worst part was not being able to breathe. Even now, it’s still hard to breathe. It felt like I was suffocating 24-7, there was no relief. I was even on a breathing machine, not a ventilator, but a nebulizer breathing machine every four hours and taking medication just to be able to survive. I probably should have gone on a ventilator at that point because my oxygen stats were just in the 80s and so low and I was so sick. But I just didn’t want to go on the ventilator. When I went into the hospital, they gave me fluids, took all the tests to make sure there was no other organ damage.
So, it was just kind of traumatic, honestly! But I learned a lot. I’m grateful to be alive. I’m grateful to be able to help anyone, you know? Or to face it without as much fear, even though it is really scary. To have hope and to try to stay calm.
You seem connected with people, both in-person and digitally. How has this helped, how has Instagram helped spread your story?
It’s so amazing because I just started sharing my story of being a chronic illness patient and so many people could relate to that. Then when I started sharing my story and my experiences working in the medical field so many more people would message me and connect with me. I’ve met so many amazing people, it’s amazing what’s come out of Instagram. What’s come out of this community is just so many different opportunities and abilities to be able to hear other people’s stories, share my story, be able to learn from others, be able to help others. It’s made me a better person and it’s also helped me be able to have a stronger voice.
When you’re about to start your day, what is the final thing that passes through your mind before you open the doors to work?
Every morning, I just say a prayer, walking in, in my mind. And I don’t know if this is going to sound corny but because this is my calling, I really, truly want to make the most of my job.
I pray right before I walk in every single morning that God uses me as a light of warm light and love to each person that I come across so that my day is very purposeful and meaningful and that I’m able to uplift someone in some way. Or help someone in another way or just comfort a patient in a way that they need. I pray every day that my light shines through to the patients and staff around me.
Still have specific questions about becoming a medical assistant? Read our ultimate guide to becoming a Medical Assistant now or these other articles!
- How to Become a Medical Assistant
- Medical Assistant Salary Guide
- Top Medical Assistant Programs
- Are There 4-week Medical Assistant Programs?
- Medical Administrative Assistant Career Guide
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