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Student Perspectives: What’s it like to be a Medical Assistant Student?

Follow your passion for a career in healthcare and make a difference.

We asked Melissa Irby, a Medical Assistant (MA) student (now graduate) at our East Valley, Ariz., campus, a few questions about why she decided to become an MA. Read below to hear what she had to say and check out the video of her drawing blood in our hands-on lab.

This interview with Melissa was conducted in 2016 and she later graduated in October that same year. She would like to thank everyone at Pima Medical for the love and support they have shown.


Headshot of Melissa Irby, Medical Assistant student.
Melissa Irby, a 2016 Medical Assistant student at Pima Medical Institute’s East Valley campus, tells us what it’s like to be in the program.

Q: Why did you decide to become a medical assistant student?

Melissa: I have not worked in a little over six years, but I have always been interested in the medical field. So when looking around, I found the MA program at Pima Medical. The program would be completed in less than a year and I liked that. Coming from a banking background, this would give me a chance to change careers. I want to spend the rest of my career helping others and giving back and what better way to do it than in the medical field?

Q: Why did you choose Pima Medical?

Melissa: I knew a few people who had attended Pima Medical and were very pleased with their programs. My niece had just finished the program a year ago and she loves what she does. After making my appointment with Pima Medical, I was confident that this was the place for me.

Q: What has your experience been like so far?

Melissa: My experience at Pima Medical has been nothing less than amazing. From the administrative staff to the teachers and other students, it has been incredible. The mix of classroom style and hands-on teaching make it a pleasure to get up and go to class.

Q: Tell us about something you’ve learned in class.

Melissa: So much! I come from a banking background, so dealing with people is what I’ve done for years. The medical side is very new to me. The only thing that I knew coming into this was that I wanted to know more about the field that I have had a passion about for so many years. From the beginning, I started with basic anatomy, math, computer and study skills. Then I went on to learn a bit about what MAs do in the front office environment. The last part of my schooling has been learning about what an MA does in the back office environment, such as taking vital signs, basic office surgical procedures, how to administer injections and draw blood. I have learned more than I ever thought I would!

“My teachers that I had have been incredible, like Ms. Klock, Mr. Atias and Ms. Queen. Ms. Klock makes me want to get up and come to school, even when I might not feel like it. I went through a really tough time in 2010, and struggle with much of my life emotionally. Not enough people talk about it, but I was dealing with depression and anxiety.

I have learned some great coping skills along the way. So when deciding to go back to school, I knew getting out of the house and sticking with the program would be difficult.

I can recall a day this summer where I just didn’t want to get up and go to school. It was a bad day for me. It was Ms. Klock that said, ‘Just get up. You can do it.’ And I did. She has been such an inspiration to me, along with my classmates, who are now like my family. Once I am working in the field, I plan on going back to school for nursing and will be looking into Pima Medical for that, too.”


(Updated from October 2016)

September 2, 2022

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