“Watching my students learn and grow academically is very satisfying, but watching them grow personally and professionally is extremely fulfilling.”
When talking to Lisa Smego, you can instantly tell that she is incredibly passionate about helping students kick-start their careers. She goes above and beyond to make sure they get the most out of their time at Ross Medical. She stays after class to mentor students as needed, she encourages all of them to take the credentialing exams—assisting them with the application process—and she is always willing to cover for her co-workers.
Smego has stayed in this field ever since she graduated in 2010 from the Medical Assistant program at Ross Medical in Brighton. She went on to do her externship at the University of Michigan’s Department of Radiation Oncology, where she was hired immediately after completing her externship. She then returned to Ross Medical in February of 2015 to teach and to complete her Medical Assistant Associate of Applied Science degree through Ross College.
The Ross Medical alumna serves as an inspiration to many and her hard work does not go unnoticed. She was recently presented with an Ohio-Michigan Association of Career Colleges and Schools award. She earned an Outstanding Faculty Award for providing quality education to students in an OMACCS school. Each and every day, she aspires to be the best possible version of herself for her students. She is an avid believer in being a living and breathing example of what she teaches.
We took some time to talk to Smego and ask her a few questions about her personal life and career.
What was it about being a Medical Assistant that appealed to you?
I have always wanted a career in the medical field and becoming a Registered Medical Assistant was the best way for me to make a difference in the world, while still being able to raise a family and maintain a home life. I thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on, patient interaction aspect of medical assisting. While in the field, I discovered a lot of qualities about myself that I never realized I possessed. The one that surprised me the most was my ability to lead and teach. I rose through the ranks quickly to become Lead Medical Assistant and eventually Clinical Coordinator, which involved training existing staff, orienting new staff and working with student externs – which usually came from a local Ross campus. I found this part of my career very gratifying!
You’re an MA instructor now — how did that start for you?
After graduating from the Ross Brighton Campus, I stayed connected via social media to keep abreast of community happenings and professional events, and saw an employment opportunity available for a teacher assistant position. I applied and was accepted. I spent the first year as a substitute and a teaching assistant. By the second year, I was given an opportunity to teach the administrative side in the evening Medical Assistant program. Now I am the primary Medical Assistant day instructor – currently teaching both sides.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
The thing I like most about my job is that I get to teach something different every day, so my students have the opportunity to learn something new every day. Watching my students learn and grow academically is very satisfying, but watching them grow personally and professionally is extremely fulfilling. I always remind them that medical professionals are always learning and always teaching! I run my classroom like a medical practice – paying attention to details, making the most of time, and learning how to work well as a team. When my students leave the classroom and begin their externship, I want them to know how to actively listen, learn quickly, and work well with other medical professionals.
What are you proudest achievements?
I returned to school when I was in my late 30’s and completed the medical assistant program at the Ross Brighton campus. At that time my children were in elementary school and we all used to sit at the kitchen table together and do our homework. Both of my children are now in college, and both of them have excellent study habits. They have excelled in all other activities by putting 100% effort into anything they set out to accomplish. I would like to believe that the example I set of balancing school work and life had something to do with their developing work ethic. So when my students start to feel overwhelmed, I like to remind them of the wonderful examples they are setting for the most important people in their lives. I also like to remind them that their time here at Ross is short term, and how this short term sacrifice will have a huge payoff!
What motivated you to make the sacrifices that you made in order to get to where you’re at now?
While working in the field, a big part of my job was patient advocacy. I would assist patients in making big lifestyle changes, whether it was smoking cessation or weight loss. I quickly realized that I not only had to be knowledgeable about these subjects, but I also had to be an example. I am fascinated with nutrition and its effects on the body, so I am passionate about food prepping and I love to cook. I am also an avid weight lifter and runner. When I teach my students anatomy and physiology, I also want to be an example of good health. You cannot expect your patients (or students) to take you seriously if you are not a living, breathing example of a healthy lifestyle. I also want to teach and encourage my students to take care of their bodies as a career in medical assisting is physically demanding.
What are some techniques you used to keep yourself motivated in school?
I completed my Associates in Applied Science, Medical Assisting through Ross College in June of 2019. It was a challenge balancing work, home life and, once again, school work. I powered through by rearranging my schedule to include time for school work and designating a quiet area in my house where I could concentrate on my studies. So when Ross launched the Canvas Learning Management System, I was already familiar with the student aspect of it, which enabled me to better support my students through this change. This also made the instructor aspect easier to learn and with a lot of preparation, I was able to transition smoothly.
What are your most immediate future goals and aspirations?
I absolutely love my job and I hope to keep doing it until I retire. Helping so many people either start their careers, or change their careers, is incredibly rewarding. My goal is to present the curriculum in the most interesting and positive way that I possibly can, as well as continue to be an example of grit and professionalism.