Medical assistant Kemari Lofton
By Bill Krugler
President, JobsWork MKE
Kemari Lofton felt she was at a dead end.
She had dropped out of UW-Milwaukee, tried MATC, but quit that, too. She was working at Cinnabon, and often a second job at night. She knew she needed something more.
“I was like, I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I know I don’t want to work at Cinnabon forever,” she says. “I don’t make a lot of money here, what am I supposed to do?”
Today, that question is answered. Kemari is a certified medical assistant at Advocate Aurora Health, and life is good.
“It’s really good. I’m learning new things all the time. There’s definitely room for advancement and, of course, the money’s nice.”
Pathways to Healthcare Careers
Kemari’s story – her successful transformation -- is a great example of the impact of our program “Pathways to Healthcare Careers.”
“Pathways” is designed to transition our participants from “low skill” to “middle skill” positions. Kemari started at Advocate Aurora as a foodservice assistant, preparing and delivering trays to hospital patients, stocking shelves, and helping with the dishes. After a year, she took a different job there, as an entrance screener -- asking people if they had Covid symptoms and taking their temperature.
Then, last summer, came her big move. Kemari enrolled in an accelerated medical assistant training program. It’s an intensive, 14-week program run by the Center for Healthcare Careers of SE Wisconsin.
“I wouldn’t have heard about this program if it wasn’t for JobsWork,” she says. “I wouldn’t have applied.”
Her first 10 weeks were in class, followed by four weeks in a clinic.
“The program is really fast-paced,” Kemari says. “We covered one or two chapters a day. The final exam had medical terminology and pretty much everything we went over. It was like 400 questions. Then I did my clinicals in urology and after the four weeks, I got hired.”
She also took the National Health Association certification test. “I passed, so now I’m nationally certified. I can work anywhere.”
On the job, she checks patients’ vitals – pulse, blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature. She assists with procedures, injects immunizations, and works with urine cultures, among other tasks.
“I don’t like bodily fluids, so I’m surprised that I actually like it. I’m learning about different medications and different conditions, things I never would have thought of.”
A better life
She says the job has improved her life in many ways.
Financially, “I definitely live more comfortably now. I can come home from work and relax. I don’t have to take a second job. It feels good not to worry about not having money to do things that I want to do.”
As for her self-image, “It definitely has made me feel way better about myself. Being a medical assistant is an actual career. And it feels good to make my family proud. My parents always told me they’re proud of me, but now I feel proud of myself, too.”
Along the way, she says, she has proved something to herself.
“I can actually finish something. A lot of times I’d start projects and I wouldn’t finish them. So to know I actually completed this course and I’m actually a medical assistant and I have a certification, it just feels good.”
If you or someone you know is interested in participating in our Pathways to Healthcare Careers program, please email Clinton Wray at firstname.lastname@example.org