How to Launch a Career in Healthcare: Meet BAMA Hero, Federico Carvajal

medical assisting with phlebotomy
Federico Carvajal, Bay Area Medical Academy medical assisting with phlebotomy graduate

Federico Carvajal is one of many graduates who launched his healthcare career with Bay Area Medical Academy’s 3-in-1 Medical Assisting with Phlebotomy Program. So, it was a pleasure to speak with Federico recently about his healthcare career so far, from coming to BAMA to working as a medical assistant at HealthRIGHT 360.

What were you pursuing before you joined BAMA and what field are you in now? 

Before BAMA, I was working for 24 Hour Fitness in operations. I was there for 12 years. I always knew I wanted to get into the medical field, but there was always something preventing me. I came across BAMA through a family member that knew someone that was going to BAMA at the time and they explained a little about the MA program. Then I got to meet with Andrew and Tanya who explained everything to me. I felt BAMA was the right choice for me to take the first step into the medical field. It helped me to become a medical assistant with phlebotomy and EKG skills. 

Was there any specific event or person who made you decide to join BAMA? 

Yes, with 24 Hour Fitness, I had reached a point where I wasn’t passionate about my job anymore. I knew I always wanted to be in the medical field, and my cousin, being a nurse at SF General Hospital, knew I’d been wanting to pursue nursing. Fears pushed me back a little, but she explained to me the medical assistant program and I met with the team and I knew that this could be the right step to at least introduce myself to the medical field and get a feel for if this is something that I could actually be truly passionate about. I was ready to commit myself to get into the field and making a career change, ultimately pursuing my dream of becoming a registered nurse, which I’m trying to do now. 

What did you think about your experience while attending BAMA? 

In the beginning, it was rough because I had to work part-time and still attend school. I went to school from 5:30 to 10:00 at night. I had Dr. Danial and my experience with him is something I wouldn’t trade anything for. He explained everything so well. I had a great experience when it came to clinical labs. So overall, I had a wonderful and phenomenal experience while I was at BAMA. I felt that I was given the tools to make sure that I would be successful in this field. 

What was your biggest takeaway? 

My biggest takeaway from BAMA was the relationships that I was able to build with my fellow students. I also realized that this is just the beginning. I will always be able to build relationships with colleagues to better myself and my education’s always going to continue once I leave BAMA because there is a lot to learn outside of those four walls. Once I’m in the clinic, I’m always learning, I’m always doing something and someone’s always teaching me something, so there are always learning opportunities wherever I go. 

What was your favorite memory at BAMA? 

My favorite memory of BAMA is when we started phlebotomy. Everything up to phlebotomy was very much in the books. Yes, there was hands-on training, but when phlebotomy came around, it was like “all hands on deck.” You touch, feel, and use other senses besides what you read in the book, and that’s when I realized, “Wow I’m actually really good at drawing blood, following procedures, making sure everything is right.” Everything in that moment in time was all coming together, like “This is what I’ve been reading, this is what I’ve been learning, now I’m actually putting things into practice.” So phlebotomy was probably my greatest memory, where everything started clicking. 

What is your favorite part about your current job? 

Currently, I’m in four specialty clinics. There are multiple specialty clinics within one unit, so I get to float through all these different departments and I continue learning. One day I’ll be in infusion and chemo, another day I’ll be in wound care, where I get to do hands-on wound care with patients to make sure I prep them and administer medication. Sometimes I’m also in our oral surgery department, so sometimes it’s suctioning and assisting the providers who are extracting teeth and doing biopsies so again, I get to learn and I get to see and be very hands-on with what’s going on. I get to ask questions and get really great feedback. I’m in a very great position because I’m in one unit, but we have multiple things going on where it allows me to explore and find what I’m really passionate about. It’s not like I’m only in one location. I get to really branch out and they encourage you to actually ask those questions to better yourself. 

Our BAMA Heroes campaign targets people who are interested in joining the healthcare field. What would you tell people who are on the edge of making that decision? 

I would tell people to, take the jump. Go for it. Obviously, there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to medicine and the field that you may end up in, as a medical assistant, but with that being said, there are a lot of opportunities. There are a lot of opportunities for growth, there are opportunities for stability. One thing is that medicine keeps on evolving and changing, and you get to evolve and change as well. And if you’re truly passionate about patient care, and building long-lasting relationships with colleagues, not just other medical assistants, but nurses and providers, this is the field you’ll want to be in because there’s always something new and exciting that happens, so there’s never a dull moment. 

Would you change anything about your journey through the healthcare field? 

No, I actually wouldn’t. I’ve had a really great experience. I started my healthcare journey in 2020 during the pandemic. I finished BAMA officially in January 2020. I finished my externship, and I was like, “Oh let me take a month off before I look for a job.” And then suddenly, boom. March comes around and we’re in a pandemic.” 

At that point, you question if this is really what you want to do, like what am I going to do if there’s something out there that no one knows about? But for me, it was “Well this is an opportunity, this is what I went to school for. I can’t run away at this moment in time when everyone is being called and is needed, as much as I’m afraid of this unknown virus at the time.” I was hired by HealthRIGHT 360, which was a primary care community clinic. I went in and yes, I was scared but I met some great, amazing people, and just seeing them and what they were going through put me a little bit more at ease knowing that I was just here to help and support as well and provide as much as I was able to. At the same time, I was still able to learn and empower myself with the knowledge to become a better medical assistant.