Ralonda Hawkins receives award from then-South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

From the Retail Floor to the Hospital Floor: Becoming a Medical Assistant

Prior to pursuing her Pharmacy Technician diploma, Medical Office Assistant diploma, and Medical Assisting associate’s degree with ANU, Ralonda Hawkins worked in retail and at a day care. She knew she wanted to do something more fulfilling and had family who were also part of the medical field, thus she chose ANU to undergo her lifechanging journey of becoming a pharmacy technician and then a medical assistant.

Ralonda has always had a passion for helping and taking care of others, so becoming a medical assistant felt like a natural fit for her. Ralonda currently works for an orthopedic surgeon where she splits her time between the clinic in preparing for patients and surgeries, and the desk to complete charts and prepare for clinic days. “I like both because it’s a balance,” said Ralonda. “You’re not at your desk all day everyday – I get time on the floor.”

As part of the Pharmacy Technician and Medical Assisting programs, students are required to complete externships. This allows an additional hands-on experience on-site.

Ralonda felt prepared for both of her externships. “My teachers did an amazing job in telling us [that] exactly what was in the classroom [was like] everything that was in the field,” she said. “It was like ‘wow, I did all of this in class.’ Going to the externship, the people were like ‘wow, you already know this stuff,’ because you’re so prepared.

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