Workforce Wednesday: Kelsey Volkers uses skills learned in GRCC Medical Assistant program to help others

Liza Barry, clinic manager at Lakewood Family Medicine, wants the best and the brightest when it comes to her medical assistant staff. Lakewood is a large family practice with 18 providers. The office, located in Holland, sees more than 1,600 patients a week.

“This environment is not for everyone. It’s a fast-paced, busy office,” Barry said. “Because of that, I am very upfront with potential externs and future employees. It can get a little hairy!”

Barry has partnered with Grand Rapids Community College’s Medical Assistant program for the past eight years.

“We have the best relationship with GRCC. I know the instructors and the curriculum, so I am confident of the skills the students have when they start here,” she said. “I truly appreciate the help I get from Linda Witte. She understands our work environment and does a great job of matching our needs with the students who will thrive at our practice.”

Witte is the program manager for healthcare programs offered through GRCC’s Workforce Training department.

“We work very hard to ensure that our students are a good fit for the workplace they are going into for their externship. I want to set them up to succeed.”

Kelsey Volkers is a successful alum of the program. Volkers graduated in June of 2014, did her externship at Lakewood Family Medicine, and has worked there ever since.

“Liza was really honest about the volume of patients we see – it can be hectic but I like to be busy,” Volkers said. “Of course, I was a little intimidated at first but I feel like I was really well prepared.”

Volkers credits her instructor for providing the basic skills that she has used for the past eight years.

“My instructors real-life experience was so helpful in knowing what it’s like to be an MA. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy all the medical terminology and just learning about so many different areas of medicine.”

Volkers really enjoyed the program.

“We were held to a very high standard,” she said. “At first, I didn’t think I could do it but they give you the tools you need to succeed. It was nice to prove myself wrong.”

Barry has big plans for Volkers’ future. She is now spending some of her time supporting management and is now also the Supply Coordinator.

“I am responsible for ordering medical supplies, and tracking immunizations for all their pediatric patients. I love the variety of this work. It’s different every day. We see patients of all ages and conditions. Some come in for regular check ups but some are really hurting. You really have to be empathic.”

GRCC’s Medical Assistant Program prepares people to take a national certification exam and empowers them to succeed in a changing healthcare environment.  The focus of the program is to prepare capable medical assistants in the knowledge, skill and behavior learning domains. 

The 772-hour program is designed to take 22 weeks to complete. Each student completes a four-week, competency-based practicum experience.

On successful completion of the program, students are prepared to take the Registered Medical Assistant national certification exam through American Medical Technologists.

The next session of GRCC’s Medical Assistant program begins July 27, 2022. Additional information is at  grcc.edu/medicalassistant.

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