Overcoming Language Barrier Translates into Meaningful Employment for Adult Career Center Medical Assisting Student
Janette Rivera, Medical Assisting-Adult Career Ctr., Class of: 2004
Janette Rivera refused to let a language barrier or her medical condition interfere with becoming a certified medical assistant after graduating from the Medical Assisting Program at the Lorain County JVS Adult Career Center in 2004.
Today, the 44-year-old medical assistant/registrar at Mercy Hospital in Lorain is using her bilingual talents to help Spanish speaking patients work through the registration process.
"I'm the first face they see when they come through the door, so I smile a lot," Rivera laughed. "With Lorain County's large Hispanic population, I know I can make a difference, even if it's just translating. It's important to be kind, compassionate…to help anybody in any situation."
Rivera was not fluent in English when she moved to Lorain from Puerto Rico in 1993. "I could read and write in English okay, but didn't speak it as well," said Rivera, a single mother looking for more meaningful employment than her steady diet of fast food restaurants provided.
That worried Rivera at the beginning of the nine-month Medical Assisting Program, but she had many reasons to persevere.
"My sister, Rebecca, died from an asthma attack when she was 17," said Rivera. "My mother, brother, my four children and I all have asthma, too. I felt a calling to this field. I chose a career in health care for their sakes as well as my own."
Rivera said her JVS instructors put her at ease and gave her the confidence she needed to succeed.
"I was a little overwhelmed at first, but I studied hard and learned all the medical terminology, which helped me understand the conversations between doctors and nurses," Rivera said. "It also helped me understand more about my own family's health problems."
Rivera's externship at Lorain County Health and Dentistry became a full-time job after she graduated.
Rivera also worked for Dr. James Matheson in Vermilion and Dr. Florencio Yuzon in Lorain. Yuzon took his staff, including Rivera, with him to Mercy Hospital in 2015.
Rivera said that the transition from private practice to Mercy Hospital went well because she already had experience with electronic record keeping and coding working for Drs. Matheson and Yuzon.
Rivera said that she was also impressed by Mercy Hospital's commitment to new employees, providing training for their new jobs.
"We take on-line courses to keep up with current technology, and we've been encouraged to take classes to further our careers," said Rivera, who is preparing for her State Certificate examination in the spring.
But Rivera will not stop there.
"I feel like I have job security right now, but it's good to be prepared," she said. "I'm thinking about pursuing a career in radiology or sonography, and the hospital will reimburse me, too."
Looking back on her nine months at the JVS Adult Career Center, Rivera said that she is pleased with the outcome.
"All my instructors were helpful and respectful," she said. "There was a time in my life when I didn't think much of myself, especially as a single mom raising four children. I'm glad I decided on the Adult Career Center. My kids noticed a difference in me, too."
Two of Rivera's four daughters have followed in her JVS footsteps: Rebecca Quinones graduated from the high school Cosmetology Program in 2012; and Amanda Quinones is currently a student in the Computerized Design & Drafting Program. Her oldest daughter Janelis works for Lormet Credit union and her youngest, Lynette, is a student at Durling Middle School.
"I tell people, 'If I did it, especially with my language problems while raising four kids, anybody can do it.'"