There is a period in most people’s life when they are faced with a huge decision – one that not only affects their life, but the lives of others. Julie Sharma had that happen to her.
Sharma, a mother of two and a devoted wife, had spent the last decade as a stay-at-home mom catering to her family’s needs. She loved being a mother and a wife, but she was beginning to consider going back to school again. Sharma already had a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from McMaster University and had previously worked in the Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology’s laboratory at the University of Chicago Hospital.
Making a Change at “the Right Age”
Since her children were 9 and11-year-olds, what Sharma called “the right age,” she decided it would be a good time to return to school.
This time though she decided she would study a different area of healthcare, one that she was extremely passionate about. Her position at the hospital in Chicago prepared her for a successful career in healthcare, but she realized she’d much rather work with patients than in laboratories.
She chose to earn a degree at the Rasmussen College Aurora/Naperville campus by enrolling in their health information technician (HIT) program, and by doing so, Sharma realized she had finally found her calling.
“I wanted to do something I was passionate about,” said Sharma. “My kids were old enough and in school full time. I had all day to study, and after they went to bed at night, I had that time to [concentrate] on school, too.” In addition, she had great support from her husband.
Support and Flexibility Lead to Independence
Even with a supportive family, Sharma needed the flexibility in her class schedule. She was elated that she was able to take the majority of her classes online, a major deciding factor for her when choosing which college to attend.
“I am so glad I changed careers,” said Sharma “It was so worth going back to school. I really enjoyed all the courses, the time when I was on campus, and HIT Director Linda Kennedy was a great mentor. I also enjoyed all the people at my college and the instructors I had. My whole experience during the two-year degree [program] was great.”
During her quest for a career she loved, Sharma realized there had been a piece of her life that had been missing: Her independence.
Before returning to school, her life was completely caught up in her family. When she started courses at Rasmussen College, she was able to do something for herself again.
“I became more independent,” said Sharma. “I have kids, and it was all about them for a long time, so, doing this – returning to school – brought me back to me. I got to focus on me again. I was studying on my own, doing something for myself. It was a true confidence builder.”
Julie Sharma’s Bright Future
The icing on her reacquired confidence was when she graduated with her HIT Associates degree in March 2011. Just before her last quarter ended, she was offered a place on the campus’ board of directors, serving as the alumni voice for HIT students.
“I bring up issues for students, what they like and what they don’t like about the courses,” said Sharma. “I am the voice of the students.
During her first board meeting, she met the owner of an HIT company called Technical Doctor who also served on the board of directors. She gave her resume to the owner and was able to use her skills, charisma, and confidence to land the job she was ultimately hoping for. She started working there in September 2011 and currently loves her new career. Her typical duties involve visiting different doctor’s practices and helping them go from paper medical records to electronic medical records (EMR).
“Doctors need help, and are looking to outsource,” said Sharma, “They hire people [like me] to come in and help; I’m there as part of a team to assist them with learning their new software, and there is a lot of growth in this field. Once all the doctors have switched over to electronic medical records, they will need ongoing support in software.
She added, “I love the fact that I’m going to client sites. I love that I’m working with people, and I love the flexibility of my position. If I didn’t do what I did with Rasmussen College, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Sharma said if she could give other parents returning to school one piece of advice it would be to stick with it.
“It’s tough,” said Sharma. “You have to go into it full-force, be aggressive, and be proactive. During your co-op (externship), sell yourself for the opportunity to volunteer, get as much experience as possible. Make sure you’re always putting yourself out there. If you do so and study hard, the outcome is very rewarding. Your hard work will pay off.”