Have you ever sat in a class and wondered: why do I even need to know this stuff? I’m never going to use it!
Charlene Blanchard gets that. That’s why the Medical Assistant courses she teaches at Career Quest Learning Centers make sense. They’re relevant, useful, and all about the real world.
“I always try to connect what they learn in a class like Anatomy & Physiology to their clinical classes,” says Charlene. “I tell them ‘this ties into what you need to know. If your patient’s kidneys’ functions aren’t working, you need to understand about the kidneys and the urinary process.’”
“I also like to use real-world examples,” says Charlene. “I tell stories about what I’ve seen and done in my own career. I even include mistakes I’ve made.”
Of course, she’s made a mistake or two. Charlene’s been working in the medical field for more than 25 years! But she says “it’s called practicing medicine for a reason. It’s because we’re learning new ideas every minute when we practice medicine. I want my students not to be discouraged by mistakes, but to learn from them.”
After a long career in trauma and surgery, instead of retiring, Charlene thought she “had a lot of knowledge that I could give to students.” Even though she’s still working, she jokes, “I am training my replacements.”
“I tell my students I’m getting old and I’ll need someone to take care of me some day and it could be you,” says Charlene, “and I want to know you’ll do it right.”
And while Charlene teaches them the right way to perform clinical tasks and understand the complicated functions of the human body, she knows that it’s all the other stuff that her students really appreciate. She says her students need support, nudges and even full-blown pushes.
Charlene had one student who dropped out and she reached out to her and got her to come back. Charlene didn’t sugarcoat things, though.
“I told her ‘it’s going to be tough. I’m not going to lie, but what you’re doing right now is not what I see for your future,’” says Charlene. “I even brought in her children. I told her ‘you’re doing this for your kids, to give them a better life. It’ll be hard but it’s only eight months. What’s eight months out of your life?’”
Her student eventually graduated and now she works as a Medical Assistant for McLaren Health Care.
According to Charlene, it’s the student who needs that extra bit of encouragement who really makes her feel like she’s making a difference.
“I need to be fair to all my students, make sure they all get the knowledge and attention they need. But my favorite kind of student is the one who’s truly struggling and then I see them succeed,” says Charlene. “I love when they shoot me a text that says, ‘I got a 100 on my test!’ or when they’re out working and they say to me, ‘remember that story you told in class? I had the same situation.’”
Even if Charlene shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, it seems like there will be plenty of her former Medical Assistant students out there if she ever winds up needing their help. And that will probably be just fine with Charlene.
Interested in a career as a Medical Assistant? Come by for a campus tour at any one of our four locations: Lansing, Jackson, Mt. Pleasant, and Bay City.