My Life As A Medical Career Professional29 July 2016 Written by By Steve Condon
Published in August 2016 Articles
I’m the head of the Phlebotomy department at Antioch’s Contra Costa Medical Career College (CCMCC).
I tell people that we’re vampires, but we’re collecting blood for diagnosis. My department is divided into two sections — Day Phlebotomy, which is an intensive one month program and Evening Phlebotomy, which meets two evenings a week and lasts for two months. Another instructor teaches a third section, which meets on five weekends.
The Medical Field is always changing but the forward movement of technology requires testing to be done ever more frequently. For example, researchers are on the verge of being able to detect the gene for cancer. Such advances mean that the need for drawing blood for analysis will be increasing, making Phlebotomy a stable profession for the foreseeable future.
I’m also teaching the Basic Life Support (BLS) and CPR courses, which are required for all students. As a result, I’m able to meet the students from the other departments in the school. Emergency Room Technicians have to take this training as well, so I have also trained the ER Techs at Kaiser Antioch.
I respect my students and will not teach down to them or get on some kind of a soapbox and fill their minds with useless clichés and meaningless ideas. Instead I focus on sharing with them my knowledge and experience in ways that will maximize their chances of becoming successful in the field.
Students are like my children, and I remain in contact with hundreds who have gone through my program and can actually recall the names of almost all of them. That’s particularly amazing since by now I’ve taught more than a thousand students. My student success defines my work. When they get a job, I think I’m sometimes more excited for their new career than they are about it themselves.
I was raised in Newark, California, which was a small town at the time and a wonderful place to raise a child. At Newark Memorial High my focus was mainly on sports. I was a member of the football and wrestling teams. I was a little small but was scrappy on a wrestling mat and a good team player at the line of scrimmage.
When I graduated in the class of ’88 I had no idea what I was going to do. I was raised in a blue-collar family. When he enrolled at Cal State Hayward, my older brother became the first person in the family to attend college. I got a job working at Newark’s Nordstrom Distribution Center. I enjoyed the people I worked with and for an 18 year-old was making good money in a union job.
In 1992 mutual friends introduced me to Monica Bennett at a party. I was immediately drawn to her and invited her to a movie. I chose a horrible date flick — Lethal Weapon with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. However, it could have been a government instruction video because my attention was drawn away from the screen towards the awesome woman sitting next to me in that darkened theater. My days as an eligible bachelor ended that night. I had found the girl of my dreams.
For ten years, I built Corollas at New United Motors in Fremont, which was on the site of the old GM plant. It was hard work, and I did everything eventually moving into a training position, working with some Japanese who were enterprise partners, which gave me some preparation for what I do now.
Monica works as a Sutter Delta Labor & Delivery Unit Clerk. I was growing weary and stressed with my lengthy commute. Since I had never gone to college, Monica steered me to Phlebotomy as a starting point for a medical career. I attended school for a month, became licensed in 2003, and got a job working at St. Joseph’s in Stockton.
The hospital working environment proved to be far different than the work floor of a vehicle assembly plant. The first time I put on scrubs, I felt that I was out of my element — more prepared for a Halloween party than for a day of work. Before long, however, I realized that in fact I had found my calling and was finally doing what I was put on earth to do. I realized that people respected me. It was a different feeling. And a good one. It was a feeling that was fun getting used to. Each night I would go to bed with the comforting knowledge that I had helped some people that day.
I coached youth football in Brentwood for a dozen years. One young ball player was the son of Stacey Orozco. Stacey was a nurse and had worked with my wife. She shared with me her goal of starting a medical career college and providing a more affordable student-friendly learning environment, one that was better than the impersonal and sometimes unhelpful situations in the larger medical programs.
After a year of planning, Stacey invited me to come aboard and help design, establish, and then manage her Phlebotomy department. Like anyone with a mortgage, family, and a good job, I was a little nervous. Stacey carefully described the details of her vision, and I really liked what she was saying. Monica and I went over the pros and cons. We both agreed that you have to take chances if you want to move forward in life, so I joined Stacey in her adventure. My hire-on date was fall of 2006. We started in her garage ordering supplies, making copies, and shuffling through the mounds of paperwork required by the state.
Things got more fun when I began putting together my curriculum. I had an idea of what I wanted to do because of the mistakes and detours that had been made during my own training. I hung on to the positive things I remembered and tried to flip the negative. Stacey gave me leeway to bring my own personality into the department so I designed the program to give me time to bond with my students and to follow them through the whole process from the first class to landing a job.
Working at CCMCC is a genuine blessing, and I am proud to have been a part of it from the beginning. I am proud of the fact that the big medical facilities in the area have learned who we are and acknowledge our reputation of supplying them with a dependable stream of quality medical professionals.