What to Expect in Stepful's Online Medical Assistant Program: Instructor Dwanda Conner Breaks Down the Learning Experience

Meet Dwanda, a medical assistant instructor at Stepful

My name is Dwanda and I'm an instructor here at Stepful. I've been in the field for 28 years and teaching for almost half of that. My career started as a CCMA in the emergency room and I also trained to be an emergency room technician. That's really where my career took off!

One day while working in the emergency room, I was approached by a patient who asked if I had ever considered teaching. From that moment on, I never looked back! I've also worked on my master's degree in genetics and heredity and continue practicing in the field, specializing in emergency medicine.

Even though these are online classes, I want my students to feel supported and not as if they're on an island by themselves. I am there for them as a partner in their educational journey, from the beginning to the end.

What is the learning experience like at Stepful?

Stepful offers a unique learning experience with 17 weeks of online classes. This includes two live Zoom meetings per week, and then students will work asynchronously throughout the week. We do a kick off at the beginning of the week and a wrap-up at the end. We also have group projects, which allow the students to co-mingle with their peers.

I'm always looking for ways to be innovative and to get students more involved in their own learning experience. I often get questions about how we teach hands-on experiences like phlebotomy and EKG. I tell students they'd be surprised at what we can do with our minds. For example, teaching vital signs can easily be implemented in the classroom. During this lesson, students will get the chance to demonstrate their skills on a patient of their choice — whether it's a friend, family member or a teddy bear! We've been very creative in how we've been able to take those hands-on skills and apply them in an online learning environment.

But of course, nothing beats going out and getting that real hands-on experience. At the end of the 17 weeks, students have the opportunity to participate in an externship. This experience allows them to take their didactic learning and apply it in the real world. I've heard nothing but positivity from students about this part of the program.

What does graduation look like as an online program?

We prep for the last day of class for about a week. Even though it's virtual, many students have said our graduation is more emotional and intimate than the in-person ceremonies they've been part of.

We reflect on the students' journey, the knowledge they've acquired, the friends they've made, and the relationships they've built. We talk about the future and what's to come. With education, this is really just the beginning! We celebrate all of our students — whether they scored in the 100% range or earned every bit of their 80%. We acknowledge their hard work, share what we're grateful for, and we always end up shedding a few tears.

How do I know if Stepful is right for me?

Just do it! Stepful really sets it up where there's no room for failure. We make sure that students' expectations are clear from the beginning. What I love about Stepful is that our journey doesn't end after 17 weeks. Our success is based on students passing the NHA exam and getting to work. This is real! If you're contemplating going to school, I would just say "Why not now? And why not Stepful?"

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