Career Tips for Medical Assistants

Interview with Patty Bevlock, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner and Life & Wellness Coach

Patty Bevlock, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner and Life & Wellness Coach

Patty Bevlock bridges the seemingly dissimilar careers of nursing and life coaching by advocating the idea that patients can be cared for and can also learn to care for themselves in order to better their lives. As a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner and life and wellness coach, Bevlock uses her extensive education and experience as a nurse to successfully operate her own life and wellness coaching business. During her many years of interacting with medical assistants in the healthcare community, she has gained keen insight into how medical assistant can be most effective to patients and nurses.

Bevlock earned her Associate degree and registered nurse certificate at Mercer Medical School of Nursing (now Capitol Health System). She then went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) in the area of adult nurse practitioner at Villanova University, which allowed her to sit for board certification as a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP). In addition to her education, Bevlock also holds a Wound Care Certification (WCC) and an Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification required to work in the acute care setting of a hospital. She was also a speaker at Temple Hospital Diabetic Limb Salvage Conference in 2013 and 2014, focusing on developing an approach to diabetic limb salvage and preventing readmissions.

In her experience, Bevlock emphasizes that medical assistants are crucial to nurses, doctors, and the healthcare industry because medical assistants are often the healthcare professional who has experience with the first signs of a patient’s developing ailment. Continue reading for our full interview with Patty Bevlock and learn from her tips as both as a registered nurse and life and wellness coaching expert.

Tell us more about your background and education.  What led you to earn your degrees in nursing and then go into life and wellness coaching? 

I always wanted to do more for the patients I cared for and I thought if I had a bigger voice in healthcare delivery, I could make a difference. In order to have a bigger voice, you need advanced degrees which is what prompted me to earn a BSN and then MSN to become a nurse practitioner.

Please expand on the professional positions you’ve held. How has earning your degrees prepared you for those roles?

I have worked in healthcare for over twenty years and have cared for many extremely sick patients or patients that suffered from the consequences of their disease. In some cases, complications of disease could have been prevented with better self-care, which is what prompted me to start Advanced Life & Wellness Coaching. I want to be at the beginning of the spectrum of healthcare, not at the end when there are very little options for patients. It is all too often that life gets very busy, causing many of us to lose focus on what is important and put ourselves at the bottom of the to-do list. In coaching, I work with clients to think outside of the box to see all of the options, choose the best option and then formulate a plan to make the option a reality.

A BSN allowed me the opportunity to explore different theories and expand on ethics, which was very useful working with families as a home care and palliative/hospice nurse.

Advanced pharmacology, human anatomy/physiology, and physical exam courses prepared me to treat patients as a nurse practitioner and taught me how to be a leader. As a nurse practitioner you need to lead your team, your facility, and your patients.

What is the most exciting or rewarding thing about the work you do?

The most rewarding thing about coaching is when a client starts to realize that there are many different possibilities and the excitement from that discovery.

What makes coaching for a healthcare industry position different than another field?

There are no differences in coaching for a healthcare industry from another field. Basically clients from any industry want the same thing and that is to move forward and get more out of life.

What are the most important skills and characteristics for a medical assistant student to have or work towards gaining?

The most important skills and characteristics for a medical assistant student to work towards are patience and empathy. It is important to allow patients to learn and do on their own and that takes time and understanding. What this does for the patient is gives them the ability to care for themselves, which in turn builds self-esteem and independence.  It is important to recognize the difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is the ability to walk in another person’s shoes and understand their experience. Sympathy is feeling pity for someone which is disempowering for the patient.

How do you use your experience as a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner in your life and wellness coaching?

As a nurse and nurse practitioner, you need to listen to patients and sometimes hear what is not being said and allow the patients to take responsibility for their care which leads to empowerment. Also as a nurse practitioner, you need to honor the patient’s privacy maintaining confidentiality. This is what I do as a life and wellness coach with clients: I listen and empower clients while maintaining confidentiality.  

Based on your experience, can you discuss the role of medical assistants in the healthcare industry?

Medical assistants play a vital role in the care of the patient because it is the medical assistant that spends most of the time with the patient and recognizes the first small clue pointing to a decline in health status. For example, the first sign of a urinary tract infection in the elderly may not be fever or pain with urination but something very small like slight confusion or lethargy. It has been my experience that the medical assistant picked up on these small clues, reported the assessment to me, and then I was able to add the medical assistant’s assessment information to the assessment information I collected and then formulated an accurate diagnosis.

What advice would you give someone who has earned their degree in medical assisting and is just starting her/his job search?   

The advice I would offer to someone who is just starting their job search for medical assisting would be to have an updated resume listing your contact information, past employment history, volunteer activities, and professional memberships. Dress professionally for the interview. Men should wear a shirt and tie with dress pants, no jeans. Women should wear business dress attire.

Do you think that it is an ideal time to pursue a career as a medical assistant and if so, why?

It is an ideal time to become a medical assistant because more and more people have families that are scattered across the country which means families are not able to be physically present to assist their aging family member and may need home healthcare services.

What advice would you give to students who are considering pursuing a career in medical assisting? How can students prepare themselves for the challenges?

To prepare for the obstacles that may occur in pursuit of a medical assistant career, you should make sure you have support at home and take care of yourself.

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