After 31 years of cutting and coloring clients as a hairstylist, Kristen Anderson decided to make a career change – pronto.
It wasn’t that Anderson didn’t enjoy transforming someone’s appearance once they walked into the doors of the salon or learning friendly details about her clients’ lives; she became allergic to the chemicals she had been using on her clients’ hair all those years.
As a result, Anderson decided it was time for a career change. “I’ve always been interested in healthcare,” she said.
Anderson came to Rasmussen College with credits from Seminole State College in Orlando. She was able to transfer her credits, which gave her a head start in the courses she began at Rasmussen College’s School of Health Sciences in July 2011.
Currently, she is finishing up the remaining courses needed in order to receive her Medical Assisting Diploma. Her courses also prepped her for the certification exam, which she will take in August. After one more quarter of classes, she will be able to earn her Medical Assisting Associate’s degree.
And Anderson doesn’t plan on stopping there.
“I’m happy I’ll be able to move these credits to an even higher degree,” Anderson said.
She’s also glad her hard work has paid off in numerous ways.
Anderson said she liked going back to school because it challenged her again, and she was able to learn something new. It has shown her that if she puts her mind to it, she is capable of many things.
As part of her coursework, she was required to participate in a 240-hour externship, which she completed at the University of Minnesota. Anderson heard that she was accepted at other externship locations before hearing back from the U of MN, but she really wanted to do her externship at the U of MN.
She waited it out and said it was worth it. “Being able to do my externship where I truly wanted was a huge thing for me,” she added.
Once Anderson was accepted to the U of MN’s externship program, she put passion and diligence into her hands-on training.
According to Anderson, her experience at Rasmussen College has been a positive one. She has taken courses at both the Eagan and Lake Elmo/Woodbury campuses, which included hands-on training and online courses.
“I’ve been really happy with the instructors…they’ve been knowledgeable and available,” she said. “And it’s been a good balance of hands-on and academic training, [as well as] practical and book testing.”
Anderson was also impressed with the SUPPORT+ services the school supplied, which includes tutors.
“[The tutors] were really adequate and they were there anytime I needed help,” she said.
At first, going back to school had its challenges, Anderson said, pointing to something as simple as getting back into the routine of studying again as evidence. However, she says it didn't take long to realize she truly missed learning, and the more courses at Rasmussen College Anderson took, the more she liked it.
And not only did her classes and externship supply her with real-world experience, it provided her with the necessary tools to obtain a job.
“On the last day of my externship, [the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Clinic at] the U of MN offered me a [permanent, full-time position],” Anderson said. “I wanted to work at the U of MN because it’s in academia, a nonprofit and a teaching facility.”
She added that her college experience has made her want to continue with her education and she plans to work toward a bachelor’s degree.
Before she does so, though, Anderson wants to leave two pieces of advice for future medical assisting degree students:
Before pursuing this degree, “make sure you’d be comfortable talking to people on an intimate and personal level because that’s a huge part of a medical assisting career,” she said. “Also, do volunteer work in the field area you’re interested in…that’ll help a lot when you’re looking for your externship.”