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January 27, 2012

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From Construction to Healthcare, A Mid-life Career Change

From Construction to Healthcare, A Mid-life Career Change

"I was a 49-year-old injured construction worker. Now I'm a 50-year-old college graduate," says Harley Taylor with pride.

In just one year, Harley has made a mid-life career change by obtaining his diploma in medical billing and coding at American National University's Danville Campus and subsequently finding employment with Danville Medical Specialist. He is involved in almost every aspect of medical office operations including scheduling, billing and coding, and the digital conversion of medical records.

Harley visited a local community college when he began researching his options in career training but he was just directed to a brochure on the wall when he inquired about the programs that they offered.

He found the experience different at National where he received personal attention from the admissions staff. "I told her that I hadn't been to school in 30-something years and they made it really good for me," he recalled.

He also found personal attention in the classroom. "One of the things that made me pick National was the small class size," he explained. "The teachers here, the opportunities and the tools they have given me have absolutely changed everything. Schools like U of K and EKU have nothing for me. It takes colleges like National to give somebody like me an opportunity."

Harley is continuing on with his education at National and will graduate with his associate's degree in business administration-management in the Spring of 2012. While he hopes to continue his career in a medical office setting, he feels that continuing his education will give him flexibility in the future.

He also likes the fact that he can take free refresher courses for life after graduating from National. "I can come back if I want to and refresh classes and it doesn't cost me anything."

Harley encourages older adults not to be intimidated by the prospect of returning to school. "I have flourished here," he said. "If I can come out of that and do as good as I've done then anybody can do it."

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Campus Receives Large Donation

Campus Receives Large Donation

The Louisville Campus recently received a large donation of surgical instruments from the University of Louisville Hospital valued at over $15,000. The donation was so large that some of the instruments will be shared with other American National University campuses.

Director of Surgical Technology Stephanie Walker was amazed by the donation, which resulted in ten complete caskets of instrumentation. Each casket includes between 40 and 50 instrument pieces used for various surgeries. Stephanie said the department now has enough to have a different set for every chapter taught in the book. Stephanie emphasized that this donation is a "big deal.” She explained, “It’s that much more the students will have to learn from before they go into the operating room.”

Surgical Technology Instructor Peter Stone has partnered with the hospital for many years. When he heard that the department was being revamped, he quickly inquired about the instruments and subsequently secured the donation for American National University.

National is currently the only local college that has students performing clinicals in the hospital’s sterile processing department.

CAPTION: Pictured are surgical technology student, Carla Morris, left, Surgical Technology Department Chair Stephanie Walker, center, and Surgical Technology Instructor Peter Stone, right, taking inventory of the large donation of surgical instruments that the department received from the University of Louisville Hospital.

Planning New Careers

Planning New Careers

The Lexington Campus recently welcomed Clinton Lester from Accountemps to the campus to meet with students and graduates about potential career opportunities. Accountemps offers temporary, part-time, and full-time positions in a variety of management, accounting, medical, administrative, and technical fields. They are eager to work with well-trained students and graduates to help them find the career they are looking for. Mr. Lester visits the campus on a regular basis to provide career guidance and support to Lexington students and graduates.

CAPTION: Graduates Jeffrey Womack and Jeffrey Curtis are pictured talking to Clinton Lester about potential jobs in the area.

Overcoming Adversity to Help Others

Overcoming Adversity to Help Others

Paula Brock has always known that she wanted to be a part of a team of people who saved and bettered lives. She started down that path as a nursing student at Northern Kentucky University but that dream was sidelined when she became seriously ill and was forced to quit school.

Paula eventually had to undergo surgery for her condition which sparked her interest in the surgery side of healthcare but she once again put aside her dream to be a stay at home mom to her three sons. When the youngest started school, she decided it was time for her to return to school, as well. She enrolled in the surgical technology degree program at the Florence Campus and is now a few short weeks away from graduation.

“I have overcome so many fears,” says Paula. Those fears included the fear of being a non-traditional student and the fear of the responsibility that working in the operating room would bring.

Paula credits her instructors with alleviating those fears. “Through all those fears, my instructors were there to cheer me on and give me the courage to continue,” she said.

Paula is completing her externship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “I love what I do more each day, and I know that I will always be learning, well after I am a seasoned professional,” Paula said, “The best feeling is knowing that I have faced my fears and can now challenge myself. I am now a vital team member who is dedicated to changing and saving lives of our patients and their families,” she said.

An earlier version of this story contained an error which has subsequently been corrected.

Volunteer Student Uses Education to Help Others

Volunteer Student Uses Education to Help Others

Kayla Quinley, a business administration-accounting student at the Richmond Campus, works for Little Caesar’s Pizza as an assistant manager. She recently had an opportunity to envision a new career for a non-profit organization.

Her employer recently raised over $10,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Camp for Kids. Because the employees did such a great job raising funds for the children, they were given the opportunity to join the children at camp for a day. Kayla’s favorite part of the camp was helping the children do the hand print tiles for the Wall of Heroes.

Kayla chose American National University because it seemed to her like a good school that not only cares about its students but wants to see each of them become a success. Kayla will graduate this August. To help her accomplish her goals in finding a job, she plans to continue her education and get a bachelor’s degree.

“I want to work with people who have that same vision: that we are all just people and we are not defined by what we can or cannot do.”

National College: Just What This Veteran Needed

National College: Just What This Veteran Needed

As a member of the US Army National Guard Military Police, Edward Cole admittedly kept “putting off” college due to his military duties. He enrolled in the Danville Campus’s medical assisting degree program in April of 2009 but military assignments kept him busy. After his second ten-month tour in Iraq, he finally found an opportunity to finish his degree.

With a graduation date scheduled for August, he will be starting an externship program in the spring. To prepare for his externship, he recently practiced his venipuncture skills with fellow student Sarah Williamson.

Edward said that he has learned a lot from his experience at National because of the class schedules that accommodated his needs. He noted that the schedule of other “traditional” schools didn’t work well for him. He said he chose National for several reasons – it is close to home; he didn’t need an ACT or SAT test scores; and most importantly, he felt appreciated for his military service when he visited the campus as a guest speaker for the annual Veterans Day Ceremony.

Edward’s medical assisting degree will compliment his experience as a military policeman and a combat life saver.

CAPTION: Edward is pictured with fellow student Sarah Williamson as he practices his venipuncture technique.

Students Volunteer For Global Needs Organization

Students Volunteer For Global Needs Organization

Students and staff from the Madison Campus recently spent two days volunteering for a charity called Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief & Equipment). Their efforts were planned as a Day of Difference in honor of National College’s 125th anniversary.

Project C.U.R.E was founded in 1987 to help identify, solicit, collect, sort and deliver medical supplies and services according to the imperative needs of the world. To honor the College’s anniversary milestone, students gave back to their community by sorting medical supplies for distribution to third world countries.

“It was amazing to see [that] the work that is done with this organization locally impacts developing countries globally,” said student Lachanta Tyler. Students said that the project was a great experience, and they felt like they made a difference. They enjoyed helping out the organization and many students mentioned that they hoped to volunteer for Project C.U.R.E. again and other charities.

CAPTION: Madison Campus students are pictured on their “Day of Difference” volunteering for Project C.U.R.E.

A Valuable Partnership

A Valuable Partnership

Maria Parham Hospital in Henderson, North Carolina is one of the clinical sites for the Danville Campus’s surgical technology program. Over the past few years, students have been working closely with the OR staff at this hospital as externs practicing the skills they learned in the classroom.

Director of Surgical Technology Kim Joyce and Clinical Coordinator Jennifer Turner recently visited the hospital and met with Melissa Ranes and Don Anderson to talk about the campus’s externship program and surgical technology students.

Melissa and Don currently work with students from the Danville Campus during their externship. They both agreed that students from National College were well trained. Melissa specifically pointed out that they have a good knowledge of the instruments used in surgical procedures.

The Danville Campus truly values their relationship with Maria Parham and looks forward to sending more students there for future externships.

CAPTION: Melissa Ranes (left) and Don Anderson (right) from Maria Parham Hospital work with National College students during their externship.

Career Skills Transcend Language

Career Skills Transcend Language

When student Coudy Niane needed some help with her algebra, she turned to Stefano Campagna, adjunct faculty member at the Columbus Campus who offers math tutoring in addition to his teaching duties. However, as she and Stefano started working together, she discovered that strong math skills weren’t the only attribute that Stefano had - he also speaks French, which happened to be her native language.

Coudy is originally from West Africa but she also spent time in France. She said that it was helpful to be tutored in her native language. “My tutoring sessions with Stefano helped me drastically and deeply,” Coudy stated.

“Ms. Niane is one of my top [business administration-management] students,” Greg added, pleased that she was able to get this type of help with a difficult subject.

Business Department Chair Greg Kontras asserted that one of the reasons he brought Stefano to the campus was his familiarity with multiple languages. In addition to his strong math skills, Greg felt that being multilingual would be an asset to the considerable number of international students in Columbus, and as it turns out, he was right.

CAPTION: Instructor Stefano Campagna is pictured practicing math techniques with student Coudy Niane.

RMA Prep Course Ensures Success in Local Job Market

RMA Prep Course Ensures Success in Local Job Market

For the past eight terms at the Lynchburg Campus, all graduates of the medical assisting associate degree program have passed the Registered Medical Assistant exam (RMA), a test certifying the requisite skills and knowledge that enable one to perform successfully in the medical assisting field. According to Susan Coleman, the campus’ director of healthcare education, this success is largely attributed to a review course that focuses specifically on preparing for the RMA exam. This high success rate over so many terms has enabled students to become qualified job candidates in the medical assisting career field of the Lynchburg medical community, particularly through Centra Health’s hospitals and facilities which include Lynchburg General Hospital and Virginia Baptist Hospital.

Campus Director Bill Baker said that there was a large influx of retirees to Lynchburg in the 1990s, and as a result there are increasing healthcare needs. “Lynchburg is not just a college town,” he said, “It’s a medical town.” To meet these needs, Centra Health has provided hospitals and facilities that continue to expand, opening up new jobs to meet the demands of increasing numbers of patients and the continued development of healthcare technologies. A medical assisting externship is a requirement of the program to help students put the knowledge they gained in the classroom to use. Lynchburg students have a good chance of completing their three-month externship with Centra’s hospitals and facilities which also often opens the door to a permanent job.

Due to its increasing demand, Sue explained that a degree in medical assisting is valuable in today’s job market. She stated that there are “more jobs in technology, but a lot of those are related to medical.” Two components of this relationship include newer healthcare technologies that require special training, and the digital conversion of medical records. In addition to the RMA exam review course and externship program, the program includes two computer classes and three medical lab classes that utilize up-to-date equipment for hands-on training.

Sue takes pride in the success of her students. “There is a competency there you won’t find anywhere else,” she said. The campus intends to maintain the success rate of its students in future terms and will continue to update the program in response to the increasing demands of modern healthcare.

CAPTION: (top photo) Medical assisting student Kimberly Johns is pictured practicing her skill in identifying things under a microscope; (bottom) Director of Health Care Education Sue Coleman is pictured explaining medical terms to students at the Lynchburg Campus.

Campus Celebrates Day of Difference with Local Community Organizations

Campus Celebrates Day of Difference with Local Community Organizations

In honor of its 125th anniversary, American National University is celebrating with a “Day of Difference” on each campus as a way of giving back to the community for their support to the College. The Dayton Area Campus made a difference by supporting Toys for Tots’ Home for the Holidays Event.

Students, faculty, and staff participated in the day-long event which included a visit by Corporal David Wills, a local Marine who manned the Toys for Tots table. In light of the day’s theme of giving back to the community, the event focused on helping families. In attendance was a local food pantry from Christ United Methodist Church, as well as other partners whose focus was supporting family relationships.

Also in attendance was Marriage Works, an organization whose mission is to assist others in nurturing and developing healthy relationships, and 4C for Children, a local organization that assists parents in finding quality daycare providers and educates parents regarding parenting issues.

Campus Director Rob Gast said, “If our students have unresolved issues outside of school, it is a distraction, which can affect their success. Therefore, we have ongoing relationships with a variety of community organizations because it greatly benefits our students.”

Nearing Graduation, Student and Mother Prepares for Job Market

Nearing Graduation, Student and Mother Prepares for Job Market

With graduation just around the corner, students at the Akron Area Campus have been putting the finishing touches on their resumes and making frequent use of career center services. Specifically, the campus’ career closet has received frequent visits. The career closet holds both men’s and women’s suits in every size and is available to all students in need of professional interview attire. Medical assisting student Crystal Haskins is one of many to have taken advantage of this service.

Crystal will graduate in May with an associate’s degree in medical assisting, but her externship with a local medical office begins next week. Prior to enrolling, she worked in a plastics factory, but she wanted a more rewarding career. She learned about American National University’s medical assisting program at the Portage Workforce Connection, and subsequently took a tour of the Campus. “I was so impressed,” she said, “I shopped around for other programs, but I was intimidated by the larger schools. Since I am an older student, I felt more comfortable with the small class size and the business-like setting at the [Akron Area] campus.”

A busy mother of three, working toward her degree has not been without sacrifice. “When my children complain about their homework, I ask them if they would like to trade with me and write a research paper,” Crystal joked.

Instructor Suzette Best said Crystal has been a pleasure to teach. “She is very attentive to her coursework. She catches on quickly and understands medical concepts.” Suzette assisted Crystal in obtaining her externship. “She was very enthusiastic about working in an internal medicine practice, and it is a pleasure to help students who are so eager to succeed.”

Even though the coursework has been challenging, Crystal is proud of her accomplishments and is looking forward to graduation. “It will be rewarding to see the looks on my children’s faces when I walk across the stage for my degree. I want to be an inspiration to my three daughters.”

CAPTION: Student Crystal Haskins is pictured reviewing clothes in the Akron Area Campus career closet.

Medical Assisting Grad Balanced Family and School

Medical Assisting Grad Balanced Family and School

Renee Jefcoat came to the Roanoke Valley Campus looking for a change in her career. She graduated two years later with an associate’s degree in medical assisting, and she found the career that she loves as a medical assistant. “I came into school not knowing what I wanted to do,” she shared, “[I] didn’t expect to like it –I loved it.” As a medical assistant for a local pulmonary physician’s office, Renee says she does a little bit of everything and uses the full range of skills she gained while at National College.

Returning to school after several years, Renee was a mom, married to a veteran, and unsure of how she would be able to attend school at the same time. National College walked her and her husband through the process of transfer of his veterans benefits, and offered her an Armed Services Spouse Appreciation Grant (ASSAG), which enabled Renee to graduate debt free. She also noted that the College offered morning and evening classes, making it possible for her to balance family and school. She attended evening classes, often doing homework with her oldest son after he got home from school and before she headed to class.

“I definitely left [from classes] the first night and thought, ‘this is going to be hard – I don’t know if I can do this’ – and I just stuck with it,” Renee said, “I really enjoyed it and it’s definitely helped me.” She found support in the close knit community of her teachers and fellow students. “We stuck together,” she said.

After graduating, Renee passed her Registered Medical Assistant exam (RMA) and started working immediately, even running into her instructors who had taught her from their experience as they worked in the field. “Everything I learned [at National] was what I needed to know for [my job],” she shared with confidence, “I’m glad I had the classes I did.”

She looks forward to gaining more experience in the field and perhaps pursuing a further degree in becoming a registered nurse. For now, she likes using the knowledge she’s already gained and working at a busy office where her job is never dull. She’s grateful for her degree from National: “I would recommend National College to anybody – they have small class sizes, manageable homework, manageable tests, everything about National College; they work with you to fit into your schedule.”

The National News is a biweekly publication designed to share the success and academic accomplishments of students and graduates from American National University and National College. For more information, contact the Communications Department.

In accordance with the regulations of the Tennessee Higher Education Council, all references to "American National University" refer to "National College" in the state of Tennessee.