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Being a Medical Assistant: the Heart-Warming, the Thrilling, and the Stuff That Makes You Pass Out

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

As a stepping stone in my journey to PA school, I recently was hired as a Medical Assistant at an OBGYN practice. As excited as I was, I had no real medical experience. Want me to take your order or tell you what kind of apple you’re eating? I can do that. But giving injections or taking blood pressures manually…no clue; although, this newness made it even more exciting.

On my first day, I learned so much that I literally came home with a pounding headache. I learned how to take manual blood pressures, watched a procedure, and assisted doctors. On the second day, I heard a baby’s heartbeat. In YouTube videos, I’ve watched women hear their baby’s heartbeat and even on shows, but being able to watch the midwife place the doppler on the mother’s stomach and find her own child’s heartbeat is one of the most indescribable feelings. In one instant all of the stress from the previous day was wiped away and I was overjoyed to be able to have this opportunity to feel this full all of the time. On that same day I did my first ever muscular injection – and wow was it thrilling! I felt a little shaky but afterward couldn’t believe I had actually done it. Since my second day, I have given five more of those shots, and let me tell you…it gets easier. 

On my third day, I was told to go and watch a Nexplanon removal. For those of you who don’t know, Nexplanon is a birth control implant that is placed in your left arm. It is a thin rod that is about two inches long, and it can stay in for up to three years. Getting it put in requires lidocaine to numb the area, and getting it out requires a scapula and looks like a full-on surgery. Little did I know that I have a little bit of uneasiness around metal bars in people’s arms, but as the doctor attempted squeezing the device out and it stuck to the skin, this realization hit quickly. My hands got really sweaty, nausea hit me like a truck, and I was running out of the room to sit down as black spots began clouding my vision. I sat with my head between my legs and drank water as I came back to it, and came to the realization that I would avoid Nexplanon removals…until today, as I write this. Of course, I got asked to assist on another, and I held my composure by avoiding eye contact with the procedure. It’s crazy the things you find out about yourself through experience.

In two weeks I’ve mastered the art of speculum cleaning (GROSS) and asked “when was the first day of your last period.” I’ve touched more cups of urine than I ever thought I would in my lifetime. I’ve gotten to confirm pregnancies, assure people they’re not pregnant, and help diagnose yeast infections – which is something I never thought I would be able to say. While OBGYN is not the field I want to be in for the rest of my life, having this experience so far has been enlightening, lovely, disgusting, and exciting all at once.

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Megan Hawkins

U Mass Amherst '24

Meg is a sophomore at UMass Amherst and is a Psychology Neuroscience and Chemistry double major! She loves everything about the outdoors, but hiking/backpacking and biking are her favorites. She plays tennis and loves to bake cupcakes, and her perfect day would consist of going on walks with her cat, Kal.