"I feel very rewarded by teaching. It's great to see those light bulbs come on."
Looking at a roomful of babies in a critical care unit can challenge the strength of even experienced professionals.
Susan Schoenrock looks at the patients in her neonatal intensive care unit and summons the strength to cope, the instincts to provide and the knowledge to help heal.
Her current profession arrives after following a winding path, filled with eclectic experiences. Susan had previously worked in a General Motors factory, then moved to San Diego as a single mother, with few prospects. The year was 1976, and times were tough but Susan had her entire future ahead of her.
"I saw that I needed to make some changes," Susan says. "I always had been interested in the medical field, and thought I would see how I liked it by starting with medical assisting."
Susan enrolled in the medical assisting program at Mesa College, where she graduated with an associate in science degree.
"I wouldn't have made it if it were not for my parents, who were so supportive," Susan says. "I was pretty determined to be independent."
Susan earned her bachelor's degree in nursing at San Diego State University in 1982. She went to work for the hospital at the University of Utah in the neonatal intensive care unit. After a year, Susan then returned to San Diego and landed a job in neonatal intensive care at Kaiser Permanente, where she has been ever since.
Susan has also returned to Mesa College as an adjunct faculty member in the program that gave her her start.
"I've enjoyed teaching," Susan says. "A major part of working in neonatal is educating parents on how to take care of the child. There may be feeding problems that need special techniques. By teaching the medical assisting students well, they can properly educate the parents. And with knowledge comes confidence.
"I had very little self-confidence when I started school," Susan says. "I was divorced with a toddler. But the faculty was supportive. For single moms, there is help available that can get them through. Now I love my work, and I'll be doing this until I retire."
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