Six months ago, Monique Torres began working at Penn Medicine as a Medical Assistant, but her dream of working in the medical field began when she was just fourteen.
“My mom’s best friend, who I call my aunt, passed away when I was young of leukemia cancer. Times like that are usually when you see people come together. But the way that everybody gathered to be by her side before her time came was awesome. I’ve never seen people be so raw and willing to open up about their emotions. Then both of my grandmas, same year. I grew up around people having cancer, so one thing I learned about it is that people don’t want to continue with that treatment, it is painful. We just have to be there to support them as friends and family. It’s weird, but this is personal for me.”
After pausing her nursing studies due to the financial strain, Monique returned to early childhood education, where she worked as an Assistant Teacher at a pre-school. When her mom shared an advertisement for a new collaborative program offering no-cost Medical Assistant training and testing built by WPSI, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, and American Training Center, Monique knew this would be a way for her to resume her dream career journey.
The 14-week long pilot program included professional development and career coaching with WPSI before completing 8-weeks of no-cost Medical Assistant coursework at Congreso de Latinos Unidos with American Training Center instructors. All participants passed the exam on the first attempt, then completed a 4-week externship at Penn Medicine to become full-time Medical Assistants with Penn Medicine.
“The main thing that surprised me was the effort put into it. Hearing that we were the first program and knowing that it was affiliated with Penn [Medicine] was definitely scary,” Monique said with a laugh. “Everyone that was part of the program was so motivating and so supportive.”
Only 6-months into her employment at Penn Medicine, Monique is already planning her next steps. “I actually am currently applying to different nursing schools. I really want to get my feet back into nursing school, and one of the great things about Penn is that once I’m here for 6 months, they’ll help me pay. That’s the only direction ahead of me. Going back to school for nursing.,” she shared. “I said I’m going to do it, so I have to!”
The success of Monique’s cohort facilitated a second no-cost Medical Assistant program facilitated by the original partners. That cohort is set to begin in February 2024, and we are looking forward to sharing more stories of success.