Shari knows what she wants: a meaningful healthcare career that will open the door for more educational opportunities.
And it seems like she is well on her way: She recently transferred to the Nebraska Methodist College Medical Assistant program after nine months at a traditional university.
As a high school honor student, Shari felt like the traditional college program away from home was her only option. But at school, she ran into road blocks. Teachers weren't available to work with her on tough subjects, and a large campus only compounded her stress.
"I didn't like the program. The teachers cared, but I could tell they would get frustrated with me," she said.
While Shari was coping with the usual college stress, a huge shift was happening to her family back in Omaha: Her mom began fostering Shari's three nieces, and Shari pined to go home and help. This prompted her to leave her first college and return home - back to the drawing board.
For most people, leaving college and helping their parents raise three little kids seems daunting. But for Shari, it was her passion. Now she could be there to help with homework, meals and whatever emergencies arose.
Shari's family was accustomed to this behavior from her. It wasn't uncommon for her to be the first on the scene when something went wrong. If someone in the house got a scrape or bruise, she would be there immediately with gauze, a Band-Aid and a caring smile.
The healer-of-the-house gig was becoming routine for Shari, but she truly tested her skills when her sister, Noelle, broke her leg. She was bedridden for a month, and Shari was the only one able to help. When everyone left for work, Shari stayed to administer medications, ensure Noelle's leg was propped and help her maneuver throughout the house.
"We definitely argued sometimes, but I made sure she did what the doctors said because I wanted to see her get better," Shari said.
Her abilities didn't go unnoticed. Shari's grandmother, a field nurse in World War II, could see how Shari's care made an impact on Noelle's recovery. When her grandmother said she'd be good at it, she knew it was the truth.
"She recognized my ability to help people," Shari said.
Still, she wasn't sure how helping her family transferred to a career. She had jobs like E.R. nurse and physician's assistant on her radar, but those career paths didn't feel like the right move at this moment.
"I needed a good-paying job that will give me experience in healthcare," Shari said. "Then, once I'm working, I can move on to the next steps in my life."
A Program That Fit
Shari searched for certificate programs in Omaha. She saw Nebraska Methodist College had a great Medical Assistant certificate program that was only 12 months long and decided it was worth a second look.
Her first step was setting up a meeting with program director Marcia Franklin. Marcia told her the program would be fast-paced but that she would never be bored. This was music to Shari's ears: She wanted a stimulating program that had a variety of ways to learn.
"We get to be really hands-on as Medical Assistants. We can draw blood and give medication, but mostly we're the first point of contact between the patients and doctors."
The Medical Assistant program at NMC proved to be a good balance. Shari didn't just sit and listen to lecture after lecture. She and her peers measured each other's vitals, practiced blood draws and conquered group projects.
On Her Way to an MA
Shari has done well in the NMC Medical Assistant curriculum for the past nine months. Not only did she find a program that worked for her, but she found a career path that was in line with her passion for caring for others.
She hopes the certificate will open even more doors in the future. She is excited to immerse herself in healthcare and possibly have a headstart in the medical field should she apply to a nursing program.
Soon, other patients around Omaha will benefit from the caring attitudes and expertise of Shari and her peers when they begin their clinicals.
"I know I can help people and make them feel at ease. I know how scary it can be when your family is scared and waiting for the doctor," she said. "I'm excited to step in and improve patients' experiences."
Keep up the awesome work, Shari!