Passion guides Leadville’s Medical Assistant program

This article was originally posted on CMC Rifle Medical Assistant program student Jenifer Brandenburg’s blog “Bookcliff Diaries”: 

One of the things students truly love about Colorado Mountain College is the sense of community. You actually get to know your instructor and have one-on-one access to them when you really need it. Even though CMC is a small college, we still have access to wonderful, experienced instructors. Instructors who are experienced not only in teaching, but in the field they are teaching. Amy Connerton is one of those instructors you can count on to really prepare you for where your degree will actually take you – the real world.

Amy first began her CMC journey in 1984 after moving to Leadville CO. Some of you may be familiar with the Outward Bound program, which was the very program that lead Amy to Colorado in the first place. She and her family love to ski, mountain bike, hike, and camp, and, get this! Amy used to be a race skier for CMC!

She started out in CMC’s Environmental Technology Program, but eventually ended up taking a few basic first aid and CPR classes through the college and found her true love! In the early 1990’s she began to instruct CPR classes and gradually progressed to teaching in the EMT program. Now she is the head instructor for CMC’s Medical Assisting Program, and still teaches CPR.

Not only does she have almost 20 years of teaching experience, but she has 20 years of working experience – as a registered medical assistant and as an EMT-I. It is clear that Amy not only loves her medical career but also loves introducing others into the field as well.

An Interview with Amy Connerton

Q: What is your favorite part of being an allied health instructor?

A: I enjoy the enthusiasm and energy new students bring to the program. When performing skills, I enjoy when I can see that things really click for someone from the material they have studied.

Q: Do you enjoy teaching more so than actually working in the field?

A: I enjoy both equally. Being able to apply my skills hands on with patients and then bringing those experiences to the classroom have been invaluable for me. I will probably always work in the field when possible.  

Q: I understand you are an EMS and a Medical Assistant, what prompted you to change directions?

A: Working is EMS is a very exciting and also very stressful job. I worked both as an MA and an EMT for many years interchangeably. I found that I enjoyed the diverse nature of being an MA and the continuum of care for patients. It also provided me and my family (she has two young daughters)a more regular schedule and regular hour than my EMS position did. Working as an MA also allowed me to get to know my patients better and understand why compassion and empathy are so important in medicine.

Q: You are a major part of the medical assisting program, how would you rate its success and growth?

A: To date our program has been growing consistently. The first semester we started we had almost full classes and continue to fill up regularly. We will have our first AAS of Medical Assisting graduate this spring, so I am pretty excited!

Q: What does a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency or an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Medical Assisting prepare students for?

A: They both prepare you to work and understand how a medical clinic works and what job skills are needed to complete the tasks a medical assistant is trained to do. The role of a medical assistant is very diverse!

Q: How would you describe the medical assisting field and the role of a medical assistant?

A: Versatile is an excellent descriptive term for today’s medical assistant. The duties that medical assistants perform vary not only from office to office, but even within the same office. They perform routine duties within the offices of many types of health professionals, including physicians, chiropractors, podiatrists, and many others. Individuals with medical assisting training can accomplish many jobs in the hospital environment, and some are employed by freestanding emergency centers or surgery centers. There are growing opportunities for medical assistants because of the constant change within the medical profession and the surge of cross training, which means one individual is trained to do a wide variety of duties.

Q: What is the main thing you wish to impart to your students?

A: The health industry is currently undergoing increases demand for its services, due to technological advances in medicine as well as a growing and aging population. These trends create a higher demand for group practices, clinics, and other health facilities to require competent, certified practitioners, including medical assistants. One step in this field can lead down a path you never considered in the first place!

“Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

 And one of those moments is the first day of your medical assisting clinical! Good luck to the 9 medical assisting students beginning clinicals this summer semester, and Congratulations to our first ever AAS.MA graduates of this spring!!