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Contra Costa Medical Career College

11 November 2016 Written by  By Jennifer Pereira
Published in November 2016 Articles

For the past eight years I’ve been lead for the Medical Administrative Assistant/ Billing & Coding program at Antioch’s Contra Costa Medical Career College (CCMCC).

Four days a week, Monday through Thursday, I teach classes from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Last month I also began teaching the 1:30 to 5:30 midday unit. On weekends I teach CPR and Basic Life Support (BLS) classes.

CCMCC is the second school in which I’ve taught Medical Administrative Assistant/Billing & Coding. The contrast between the two programs is remarkable. Our program runs for ten weeks as opposed to the comparable program in my previous school, like all traditional medical schools, that ran for nine months. We manage to achieve such economy through intensity and focus.

Our classes are fast paced; my students acquire the essential information and master the required skills in an efficient manner. We don’t include the “fluff” that other courses cover. For example, I don’t take classroom time to teach students how to format a Word document or how to program a sum function for a column of numbers in an Excel spreadsheet. Students can easily pick up those skills on their own. We focus on turning them into medical front desk professionals as quickly as possible.

Some students come to class the first day with the idea that they are going to learn how to answer phones. They are shocked, therefore, to discover that I expect them to master the processes and technologies associated with billing, medical insurance, coding, and electronic health records management.

They will also be introduced to pharmacology and will learn appropriate legal codes and core values. They will especially learn the fundamental truth that integrity is the foundational personal quality required in order to grasp the essential principle that not everything that is legal is good or right.

After successfully completing their 10 weeks of classroom instruction, our graduates are required to complete 160 externship hours, unless they pursue cross-training by enrolling in our Medical Assisting Class where they will gain back office skills to complement their front office training with me.

Even though our training is intense and my students learn a lot in a relatively short period of time, we have a happy time together in the classroom because I really enjoy teaching. I am a passionate people person. My students know that I care for them deeply and will do whatever I can to help them succeed.

The remarkable thing is that my CCMCC graduates are probably able to secure an entry-level position in the field as easily as graduates from other institutions even though their education took only a third of the time demanded by traditional programs and at a fraction of the cost with the result that none of our students carry away with them a huge academic debt that will burden them for years or decades to come.

Our retention-rate is high; nearly all of the students who come in on the first day of class graduate. And an amazing 70 percent of them will actually get a job in their field.

I was raised in Antioch, lived with my mom, older sister, and three younger brothers, and I graduated in the Antioch High class of ’92. I was a good student but highly social. I enjoyed hanging out with friends and being the center of attention. I didn’t play sports or participate in many extra-curricular activities because I worked after school at a dry-cleaning establishment.

Following graduation I got a job at Dr. Sharon De Edwards OBGYN office. I discovered that helping people to be healthy was more satisfying than cleaning their clothes. I loved our patients and my fellow workers. I always had a passion for keeping things organized, so I even enjoyed helping manage the mountains of paperwork involved in medical practice at every level.

I wanted to get involved in medicine on a professional level, so a year later I got a job at Diablo Radiology in Walnut Creek and enrolled at LMC. College suited me even better than high school because I could take courses that were of particular interest to me and each quarter would enroll in whatever Medical Terminology and Administration courses were available. I graduated with my Associates Degree in 1996 and then worked for five years as a Medical Administrative Assistant at Pittsburg’s Diablo Orthopedics.

I married Stacy Pereira in 1998. When our second child was on the way, I became a stay-at-home mom but spent the next eight years working part-time as the Secretary of Sutter Delta’s Labor & Delivery Unit. I enjoyed working with the doctors and nurses. One of my favorite fellow employees was Stacey Orozco, who was the Labor & Delivery Nurse on my shift. Stacey was fun to be around; we became good friends.

When my son was three and in preschool I landed a teaching position at a local college as an instructor in the Medical Administration, Billing & Coding department. I actually had to put together the curriculum for the Administration part, since they were just adding it to the program. My only previous experience had been teaching a Sibling Class at Sutter Delta plus art and dance classes with the California First Five program. To offset these less than impressive credentials, I attacked my classroom work with a “fake it ’till you can make it” attitude. However, teaching turned out to be my gift and my calling. I loved helping people learn. During the time we were together, I grew really close to a number of my students. Following the last class I would watch some of them walk out the door through eyes that were blurred with tears. (In only a few cases were they actually tears of relief.)  Eight years ago my colleague Stacey was opening CCMCC. The first year she offered only two programs, Medical Assisting and Phlebotomy. She told me she was going to add Medical Administrative Assistant/Billing & Coding and wanted me to teach it. When the time came, I was able to leverage my experience gained while setting up the Administration unit at the previous college to the challenge of setting up the new program. My first days with CCMCC felt like I was “coming home to a place I had never been before” — not only because of Stacey, whom I had come to love, but her sister-in-law Mindi, who is the Career Services Director, and Imelda the Admissions Counselor had both been high school classmates of mine. We were like family from day one.

I have three kids in my biological family. Smart and gifted Aubrey is 15 and an honor roll student at Liberty High. Avalynn is 13 and attending Knightsen Elementary together with a 10-year-old brother, Evan. All three of them play basketball on their school teams during the year and with AAU teams when on break. I’m the head (and only) member of their cheerleading squad. They are all good at the sport and Evan is already showing championship qualities.

I love all the parts of my life. The programs and people at CCMCC are easy to love. Coming to work is a genuine pleasure; helping students find professional success is its own reward.

Read 3179 times Last modified on Friday, 11 November 2016 15:15
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