Michigan college launches health care careers — Stat!

JACKSON, Mich. — Katie Stiver, 34, spent a decade working in a long-term care facility, helping people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.


Kristin Spencer (left), who directs the certified medical assistant (CMA) program at Jackson College, confers with student Hope Ross. Ross, 20, has excelled in the program — so much so that she’ll soon be serving as a volunteer teaching assistant.
Hope Ross was diagnosed at 18 months with rheumatoid arthritis and has spent countless hours in hospital care. Much of that care was provided by medical assistants — a fact that helped drive her career choice. “My dream is to work in the rheumatology clinic at (the University of Michigan) and take care of kids,” Ross says. “I was once where they are sitting.”


Tessa Risner, 22, will soon complete the Jackson program and earn her certification as a medical assistant. Risner says the recent hospitalization of her year-old niece helped her dedicate herself to a career in direct patient care.
Since graduating from Jackson’s CMA program in November 2017, Devin Bills, 38, has worked as a medical assistant in a family practice in Onsted, Michigan. She thrives on the work, saying it allows her to be an advocate. “I have a lot of complex patients,” she says, “a lot of patients on Medicare, Medicaid, and they just have struggles. They just have certain issues that I can relate to or I can be empathetic with.”


Jackson College phlebotomy student Rio Beaty (left) gets some hands-on assistance from instructor Carrie Sharp. Beaty has tried her hand in many courses of study in the past, but she’s eager to get into the health care field. She thinks phlebotomy will likely be the first step toward a more advanced credential in health care.
Tara Sims eases a classmate’s mind as she prepares him for a blood draw — all part of her training toward earning the phlebotomy skill set at Jackson. Sims is already looking beyond phlebotomy and is considering enrolling in the college’s EKG technician courses.
Liz Snell is one of two student success navigators who advise Jackson’s students in health sciences. Because she works exclusively with students in health care programs, she says, she has expertise that enables her to work productively with her students. “I’m seeing the same students all the time,” Snell says. “We’re becoming a one-stop shop.”



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Bob Caylor

Bob Caylor is a journalist with more than 30 years of experience at newspapers in Minnesota, Ohio, and Indiana.