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PCC Medical Assisting alum loves his healthcare role
Photos and Story by James Hill
Stephen Date has a lot of patients.
That’s because he’s a certified medical assistant and health coordinator with GreenField Health, a primary care clinic in Portland. The 2011 graduate of the Medical Assisting Program at Portland Community College is one of countless number of PCC alumni who have gone on to work in the health care field. The program prepares students to function under the supervision of a licensed physician or health care provider and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Educational Programs in collaboration with the American Association of Medical Assistants.
“I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to end up in the medical field, but it’s a fantastic way to break into it,” Date said of the Medical Assisting Program. “It gives you a really good base of how the health care system works; you’re on the frontlines taking care of patients. It is such a versatile position that you can have the same job title and do completely different things at different clinics. There are really no barriers as to where you can end up.”
GreenField Health has a care-team model that relies on close collaboration between clinicians and their health coordinators with half the care focused on non-visit based care. Date handles his doctor’s correspondence with patients, including secure messages, overseeing medication refills, signing authorizations for imaging, performing phlebotomy (drawing blood), and administering blood pressure and vital-signs. Date’s work allows the physician to concentrate on giving patients their needed care.
Armed with a Montgomery GI Bill, Date enrolled at PCC to earn his associate’s degree. He was searching for a way to get into the medical field after graduation, friends directed him toward the Medical Assisting Program at the Sylvania Campus. So, he enrolled in the nine-month program after completing his two-year degree. In his third term, Date was awarded a 90-hour externship at a local immediate family care clinic, working full-time while attending PCC part-time.
As he finished his Medical Assisting certificate, Date found a better fit at GreenField Health where he could be more involved on the care side of a doctor’s practice.
“(The externship) was a fantastic way to start my career, but I was kind of looking for something a little different from that,” said Date, who was born in Toronto, Canada and came to Oregon when he was 11 years old. “I was looking for an opportunity to really connect with patients.”
A U.S. Marine out of high school, Date operated heavy equipment (bulldozers, forklifts…etc) in two tours of Iraq from 2000-2004. While overseas, he befriended Navy Corpsmen (combat medics), which fostered an interest in health care. The disciplined and professional nature of serving for the U.S. Armed Forces fit perfectly, he said, with the realm of medical assisting.
He uses those skills to help his fellow medical assisting professionals. Date served on the PCC Medical Assisting Program Advisory Committee, which provides guidance on the program’s curriculum and industry trends. Along with two other PCC alumni, he currently serves as a continuing education team member on the River City Chapter of the Oregon Society of Medical Assistants. They are tasked with finding speakers to talk on relevant health care topics once a month to students and certified medical assistants, who must continually earn CEU credits over five years to maintain their credentials.
“We determine what would be good topics such as things we think medical assisting students and certified medical assistants would want to learn,” Date added. “Then we find the appropriate speaker to make that talk to them.”
Virginia Chambers, medical assisting instructor, knows all about Stephen Date. She mentored him throughout his time in her program and is proud of all the work he’s done not only for himself, but for others in the profession.
“He is now a mentor to others and is moving in the direction of professional leadership,” Chambers said. “He has always looked for any opportunity to learn and grow. I remember he came to me and said he had no experience in a leadership role and wanted to try it out. So I set him up to be the team leader for the JDRF Walk at Oaks Park and he managed to raise over $1,700 and got over 50 students and families to participate. I could not be more proud of him.”