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College Education Creates Job Opportunities for Student

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Surry Community College student Sabrena Hemric, 43, decided to enroll in Medical Office Administration classes and earn a degree because she was motivated to make a career change and continue to grow professionally.

After she graduated from Elkin High School in 1997, Hemric signed up for classes at Surry Community College to be a nurse.

“I decided not to continue because I was uncertain if that was what I wanted to do. I had my mind on salary and didn't like dealing with blood. I realized there are better career options for me,” she said. “I started researching careers and knew I wanted to do something that made a difference in people's lives. I started a job at a CVS pharmacy in January of 2000, training as a pharmacy technician.”

Hemric worked for CVS in Yadkinville for 19 years in the pharmacy.

“The only experience I had was knowing how to operate a computer. At CVS, I loved working in a fast-paced environment and knowing I would play a part in keeping people happy and healthy, so I became certified within a year in 2001,” she said.

Hemric received on-the-job training to study for the pharmacy technician certification exam and earned her certification. She worked as a pharmacy technician for 12 years and then as lead pharmacy technician and inventory specialist for the remainder of her time at CVS.

A job opening in Elkin for a pharmacy technician at Revival, a pain management clinic, caught her attention. This office was opening a drug dispensary, and a pharmacy technician was needed to teach the doctors more about the drugs they would be prescribing in terms of how the drugs looked after being produced by different pharmaceutical companies.

“I prayed about it and took a leap and applied,” Hemric said. “It was a hard decision to make because I was comfortable in my old job, but the idea of this job was intriguing. I also liked the work schedule better because retail pharmacy work is so demanding.”

In 2011, she started working at Revival, and a patient room was made into a dispensary.

“I taught doctors what medicines looked like and taught them the process of dispensing,” she said. “It was so interesting and fun. This was my first experience working with doctors. I love to learn and experience different things.”

Dr. Ben Raines became Hemric’s mentor and advised her to further her education in the Medical Office Administration program.

“He saw abilities in me that I couldn’t see in myself,” she said. “He guided me and tested me daily. He asked me questions and even gave me an IQ test. He encouraged me to go to school and get the Medical Office Administration degree. He acted like I was one of his daughters. He checked in on me and called me ‘his kid.’ He complimented my work and pushed me to do even more.”

Hemric worked with the patients at check-ins and check-outs to verify they were using their prescription medicines, highly controlled narcotics, accurately. She did pill counts and examined the pills to make sure they were from the correct manufacturers.

“I enjoy helping people and working in a team setting,” Hemric said. “I like finding solutions, preventing problems and helping my team members. I learned the clinical setting of healthcare at the pain clinic. I was always willing to help in different areas. I wanted to learn everything I could. I shadowed the practice manager and would fill in for her whenever she was out.”

Northern Regional Hospital acquired the pain clinic after Hemric was on the job for about a year and a half. She worked for the pain clinic for 10 years.

“Northern Regional offers tuition assistance to employees. They are a fantastic company,” Hemric said. “They take care of their employees. They made a good impression on me. So, when they withdrew from the pain clinic, I decided to come with them.”

In Fall 2020, she enrolled in Medical Office Administration classes at Surry Community College. She has taken all her classes online while working full-time. She plans to finish the degree in Spring 2023.

At the end of September, she began working as a pharmacy technician at Northern Regional Hospital where she worked for two months before getting a promotion. She was encouraged to apply and landed the role of being the administrative leader for the hospitalists, a job which she began on December 7.

“When they offered me the job, I was tickled to death. I thought, what amazing opportunities I am getting, and I haven’t even completed my degree yet,” Hemric said.

Hemric graduated from the Northern Leadership Academy, which is a competitive, internal program for employees of Northern Regional Hospital. This year’s academy had 20 applicants, and only seven were accepted. Each member of the Northern Leadership Academy completes a case study. For her case study, Hemric put her problem-solving skills to work and formulated a process to improve communication between the hospitalists and staff, resulting in improved patient care, and decreased wait time for patients approved for release.

“I love challenges, and I love working for Northern. They want you to grow. They help you,” she said.

On Fridays, Hemric assists hospital operations in the administrative suite, which has helped her learn about another department of the hospital – its highest leadership.

“You can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t be afraid – it made me nervous to change careers and get out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I did,” she said. “Earning my college degree is opening up job opportunities for me that I never thought were possible.

Hemric lives in Elkin with her husband, Chad, and daughters, Ashley, Lauren and Haley, and grandson, Ashton.

SCC’s Medical Office Administration program offers a degree, diploma and three certificates including Medical Office Administration, Medical Billing & Insurance and Patient Services Representative. The program prepares students for employment as medical administrative personnel in the areas of medical billing and coding, dental office, patient services, and medical documents.

Registration is open for spring courses. For questions about college application, financial aid, or class registration, contact Student & Workforce Services at (336) 386-3264 or studentservices@surry.edu.

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