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Dome - Swinging open the gates

March 2011

Swinging open the gates

Date: March 4, 2011

Johns Hopkins Bayview offers employees new job-training opportunity


Martina Vargas-Geise took advantage of a continuing education program to better learn the language of medicine and improve her care to patients.
Marina Vargas-Geise took advantage of a continuing education program to better learn the language of medicine and improve her care to patients.

Four years ago, when Marina Vargas-Geise came to Bayview, her English, while acceptable, was not at the level she desired to best communicate with coworkers and serve patients. Today, the patient care technician and El Salvador native can speak clearly and confidently with physicians about complex medical terms.

It’s all thanks to a lot of hard work, and a little help from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s new Gateway program, sponsored by the career development office. After taking two years of English classes on her own, Vargas-Geise took the next step of enrolling in the program’s trio of noncredit courses—Medical Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Math for Health Care Workers—that are required for a number of health care certifications. The classes are offered free of charge, right on campus.

Karen Jones, career development specialist, sees the program as a win-win for the hospital and its employees. “We’re preparing committed employees for hard-to-fill vacancies, such as medical assistants, pharmacy techs and surgical techs,” she says. “Employees are getting an education and increasing their job skills.”

Dina Zellers, an executive secretary in occupational health, appreciates the camaraderie with the seven other students in the program, who take all of their classes together. “Several of us would study at lunch together,” she says. “And when one or two students wanted to give up, the others would not let that happen.” She is planning to return to college to become a certified medical assistant.

The graduation ceremony on Feb. 24 was a special day for the inaugural class, who balanced their heavy course loads with families and full-time jobs. Vargas-Geise plans to enroll in a medical assistant program next February. Five short years ago, she never would have dreamed she could accomplish this much. “If I can do it, anyone can,” she says. “You have to put it in your mind that you can do it.”

The hospital plans to offer the program again in the spring. Johns Hopkins Bayview employees who are interested in applying can contact Jones at 410-550-1176 or kjones94@jhmi.edu.

—Sara Baker

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