Giving birth to her first child proved to be a traumatic, life-altering experience for Edith Saldana.
Immediately following the birth, her infant son wasn’t breathing. The medical team quickly sprang into action, Edith said, performing CPR and providing oxygen. Thankfully, her son eventually began breathing on his own.
Bearing witness to the entire scene left a lasting impression in Edith.
“From that experience, I really learned to appreciate the nurses, especially the labor and delivery nurse,” she said. “I thank God she was there. If it wasn’t for her, my son wouldn’t be here.”
Edith said she had already been considering a career in the medical field, but this experience solidified her vision. Not only did she want a job related to nursing, but she wanted to be in a position to help people and their families when they’re at their most vulnerable – just as the birthing team did for her and her son.
“The comfort [the delivery nurse] offered – not just her but the whole team – they make you feel secure and safe,” she said. “They make you feel like they’re there for you. For me, that was very important, and I wanted to be that person for other families, as well.”
This desire led her to U.S. Colleges in Montclair (CA), where Edith recently earned her certificate from the Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA) program. U.S. Colleges, she said, offered an ideal balance between school and family, allowing her to get trained in a new career while still having time to be the mom and wife she wanted to be.
She recently started her new career as a medical assistant at a wellness center in Pomona, working primarily with geriatric patients and sometimes performing home visits.
“I graduated from high school in 2015, started working jobs here and there, got married, and after a year I had my first son,” Edith said. “I took the family life first, but I always knew there was something more that I wanted to do and more to my story that I wanted to complete.”
Fitting Right In at U.S. Colleges
Researching schools in the middle of a pandemic had Edith feeling a bit anxious. She was eager to get started on a new chapter in her life, yet she feared having to attend a large school and dealing with a lot of students who may or may not be taking proper COVID precautions.
Walking into U.S. College’s Montclair campus for the first time, however, helped put her at ease.
“As soon as I walked in, it felt like a small family – a small group of instructors and workers you can rely on for help,” she said. “It was welcoming and made you feel safe.”
Edith learned that not only could she complete her classes in as few as 16 weeks at U.S. Colleges (including 80 hours of real-world experience during her externship), but she would still have time during the week to be a mom. Having a mix of online classes along with in-person lab work, she said, added another level of flexibility to her schedule.
Having a teacher like Clinical Medical Assistant instructor Marbella Lenehan, Edith added, helped ensure she absorbed the lessons and procedures taught in each and every class.
“I will forever be grateful for Ms. Lenehan,” Edith said. “She was amazing. She never left us with any doubt. Before class, emails, text messages … there was never a time when she wasn’t available. It was such a great benefit. She cared. She showed that she cared so much, and it was nice to have that there.”
“Edith was a pleasure to have in class. She showed compassion, empathy and patience – just some of the character traits you need as a Medical Assistant,” Marbella said. “Edith excelled in the program from the start. Her study and time management skills were great! Edith was always willing to learn new skills and help others who may have had a hard time with them. During her time here, Edith finished the program with perfect attendance and top of her class. I am so proud of Edith and can’t wait to see her fulfil her future goals.”
Once she completed her classroom and lab work, Edith began her externship at the same wellness clinic that would eventually hire her following graduation.
Starting a Medical Career with Big Goals
Edith says that on a typical day in the clinic, she’ll see between five and eight patients, mostly older adults. She takes them to the back to their exam rooms, takes their vitals, and gets them ready to see the physician.
“It’s so different from working in any other field,” she said. “You have to have a lot of patience with some of them, and some are very sweet. For me, it’s nice to know there are places like that for our elderly and they’re not forgotten – a place where they can ask questions are know they’re being listened to.”
So early in her career, her main goal is to absorb all these professional experiences while remaining grateful for the opportunity to help others lead better lives. But, looking forward, Edith sees even greater things for herself.
“Being in the medical assistant program, it’s been a great experience to learn how to work with different kinds of patients,” she said. “It’s definitely been a great experience for me, but I definitely don’t plan on just stopping there. I want to pursue the RN (Registered Nurse) field.”
And, she appreciates U.S. colleges for putting her in a position where she can dream big when it comes to her career.
“I’m so thankful I found U.S. Colleges and their staff,” Edith said. “I think it’s such a great program that I would definitely encourage anybody interested in a medical career to look into it. It’s so beneficial.”