Norma De La Rosa, CCMA
Norma De La Rosa graduated in June, 2019 from the Lehman College Certified Clinical Medical Assistant program. Her transition to a career in the healthcare industry came after 13 years working as a travel agent, a job where there was very little room for growth or advancement. “I was always interested in the medical field, but I didn’t know where I fit. That’s when I saw the CMA program in the Lehman catalogue and thought, I can do this.”
How did you discover the CNA program at Lehman College?
I was looking for a career change from retail. I’ve always been interested in nursing, but the idea of going back to school was intimidating. Honestly, I was really lost. I spoke with a friend who was in healthcare who said why don’t you become a technician? I did some research and saw that you needed to get a certification. Lehman came up and I knew that it was a good school so I signed up for an info session over Zoom with Maryann and Doctor Paul. It was super affordable, so I decided to go for it.
As a person with a natural ability to put people at ease, as well as a passion for making challenging experiences easy for others, a phlebotomy certification was a logical choice. This decision led Norma to pursue an additional EKG certification through Lehman College, which has opened the door to working in many departments including cardiology and presurgical. The additional certification and the knowledge gained through her hands-on training has also given her job security and the ability to negotiate higher rates of pay.
“My first job out of Lehman was posted at $17 per hour. Through the interview process I was able to show my employers that I am knowledgeable, that I know exactly what to do, and I have my certifications to back me up, all of which allowed me negotiate my starting pay up to $20 per hour.”
But the path to her dream career was not always easy or straightforward. When Norma started the program, her husband was unemployed and the bills were piling up. And in the process of going to school, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died in April 2019, months before her graduation. And still, in spite of the difficulties and the tragedy of a huge personal loss, Norma persevered.
“All of it pushed me harder to go in this direction, to accomplish what I needed to accomplish. I knew this was the path to being a provider for my family, to stability.”
And the results of her hard work?
“After applying to Mount Sinea, I finally got my dream position. I have a union job that started off at $27 per hour. I get regular breaks, vacation, and I’m well taken care of. I’m not in a specific department, I’m a floater. I get to go into all of the departments and learn from each of them. Now I get to pick what I like, and pursue the areas of my work that I’m interested in. My family is so proud of me.”
Still, Norma has no plans to stop here. With her certifications in hand and a new understanding of the opportunities available in the medical field, she is now planning to return to school to become a registered nurse where she can make a lasting impact on an industry that was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I feel that people need to be helped. Nurses should be people who are compassionate and empathetic, and I think that would be a perfect position for me. I’d like to do that for the rest of my life.”
Norma’s advice to anyone looking to go back to school in order to make a career change is to always put your best foot forward.
“Always be positive, and know that you can finish anything you start! I hope that my story inspires someone else to take a leap of faith and make the change they’ve been waiting to make.”