When Amalia Aplaon immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 2019, she already had a bachelor's degree and a caregiver certificate. But she quickly realized that without Canadian credentials, it would be much harder to find a good job in health care.
So, after spending years as a stay-at-home mom, Amalia took on the challenge of returning to school. She enrolled in Medical Office Assistant (MOA) training, completed her practicum, and graduated just as COVID-19 was sweeping across the country.
The pandemic caused a hiring freeze at many clinics, making finding a job very difficult for new MOA graduates. But Amalia persevered and in just one and half months, she got hired as a primary care assistant.
We interviewed Amalia to learn more about her experience at Herzing and what it's like to transition from full-time mom to full-time healthcare professional.
Read on for the full story.
Q: Amalia, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Amalia: I have a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from Saint Louis University, Philippines. I also have a caregiver certificate, which I believe is equivalent to the Health Care Aide program here in Canada.
I love volleyball and basketball. I enjoy reading investigative books and watching action and sci-fi movies.
Before coming to Canada in 2019, I was a full-time homemaker. My days were busy taking care of my two boys.
Q: What inspired you to choose Medical Office Assistant training?
Amalia: Honestly speaking, when I first inquired at Herzing, I was more interested in the Medical Laboratory Assistant program.
But my admissions advisor informed me that no slot was available until later that year, and I didn't want to wait so long.
He offered me the Medical Office Assistant program instead. At that time, I had no idea what the program was really about. But he patiently explained it to me and I just decided to try it.
Q: How did you decide to enrol at Herzing College? What was your process for choosing a school?
Amalia: When we first arrived in Canada, we attended some seminars for newcomers. That's when I decided to go back to school and get a Canadian education, so I would have a better chance of finding a good job.
I searched the internet for schools and emailed two colleges to ask about tuition fees, duration of the program, and percentage of grads who get hired.
Ace, the admissions advisor at Herzing, got back to me immediately. We set up a meeting and he was able to assure me of Herzing’s ability to deliver.
Q: What is your overall opinion of the Medical Office Assistant program?
Amalia: I loved every minute of my stay in Herzing. My instructor Kelly Khemiri is an amazing mentor. She was very supportive and understanding.
Kelly always meets her students halfway to make sure no one is left behind. The course material is relevant to the job but a few enhancements will be nice to render the students more competitive in the field. The class environment is very conducive to learning.
Q: Can you tell us about your practicum? What was the experience like for you?
Amalia: I did my practicum at University Medical Group at HSC.
I was lucky that my trainer entrusted me with a few of her tasks, which helped me to learn how things are done in a real health care setting.
She let me complete surgery packages for the clients, and allowed me to work in Aria, which is the computer application used for booking appointments with Cancer Care Manitoba. I also did manual chart filing and learned how eChart works.
One of the physicians also allowed me to shadow her in the clinic, and I was able to help in rooming the clients, filling consent forms and labelling the specimens to be delivered to the laboratory.
I felt so blessed because my trainer and the physician trusted me, which let me learn and grow professionally.
Q: Did Herzing help you find a job? How long did it take to get hired?
Amalia: I was at the end of my internship when the pandemic hit. So I started my job search way too late, and due to COVID-19 it was really hard as most clinics were not hiring.
But then Nine Circles Community Health Centre contacted Herzing with a job opportunity. Herzing's career development team asked me if I was interested, and I said yes.
They sent my resume to Nine Circles, and the Primary Care Director set up an interview with me. I was very fortunate to be hired and given the chance to work with the Nine Circles family.
In total, it took about one month and a half to find a job.
Q: How is your job going? Can you tell us about your position?
Amalia: I am still working at Nine Circles Community Health Centre as a primary care assistant.
So far, things are going great. Everyone is very supportive and they gave me a warm welcome to the team.
My responsibilities include answering phones, rooming clients, checking and sorting faxes, booking appointments, doing hand hygiene audits, encoding/updating immunization records, and ensuring the security of the facility at the end of the day when my shift ends.
Q: Have you faced any challenges since returning to work full-time?
Amalia: Going from being a stay-at-home mom to a working mom poses a big challenge for me.
Even though Herzing prepared me, balancing my responsibilities at home and at work proves to be a tough task, which I am still working on.
I don't have as much free time anymore. This has been the biggest change for me.
Q: Any advice for future MOA students? What special qualities are needed to succeed in this career?
Amalia: First and foremost, be certain this is what you want and be prepared to see it through.
To succeed in this field, you need determination, patience, perseverance, flexibility to adapt to constant changes, respect for clients and co-workers, open-mindedness, and sensitivity to different cultures and dispositions.
Whatever work you choose, you should love what you're doing, so you can serve and enjoy at the same time.
Thank you, Amalia. Congratulations on your new career. We wish you every success and know you'll soon find your balance as a working mom.
Learn More About Medical Office Assistant Training
Herzing College Winnipeg offers a 12-month Medical Office Assistant diploma. Training includes a six-week practicum at a clinic or hospital.
Courses include medical billing, laboratory procedures, appointment booking, health office software, records management, clinical procedures, first aid, and CPR.
Wondering if MOA training is right for you?
Click below to explore the program in more detail, and chat live with an admissions advisor today. We're here to help!