Kaiser Permanente, Skyline Medical Center
Kristy Spencer is currently a Medical Assistant at Kaiser Permanente Skyline with dreams of moving up in her healthcare career. After she completed her prerequisite courses with the help of the Education Fund’s College Courses program, she heard about the Health Information Management (HIM) program available through Portland Community College and jumped at the chance.
Thanks to the HIM program being offered fully online, she was able to continue going to work and raising her family without disrupting her life too much. The Education Fund’s Wage Replacement program also helped her reduce her work week to 32 hours while maintaining her income. Kristy received constant encouragement and support from the Education Fund throughout her educational journey, including advice on time management and tutoring services if she needed them. Kristy says, “without the support of the Education Fund I would not be where I am today!”
Due to her hard work, dedication, and the support of the Education Fund, Kristy graduated from the HIM program with her Associates Degree. She encourages other members to “check out the Education Fund’s website to see what programs are available and get started! Their team is there to support you along the way and help you complete your goals. I went back to school with a husband, four kids and two dogs – if I can do it, anyone can!”
Emergency Room Unit Assistant
Kaiser Permanente, Walnut Creek Medical Center
Janet describes her job at the Kaiser Permanente, Walnut Creek Medical Center as the “stopwatch” for the ward. As patients arrive for critical care, Janet delegates tasks and performs required functions that include completing necessary legal forms, and arranging for appropriate transportation should patients require acute care at a different facility. For instance, a patient suffering a traumatic brain injury might need to be air-lifted to KP’s neurosurgery Center of Excellence in Redwood City.
In the future, she plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree, leveraging the Ed Fund’s Wage Replacement program so she can reduce her work hours while pursuing her degree. “I took the time to learn everything the Ed Fund offers,” Cordova said. “It’s there for us to use. Why wouldn’t we?”
Planned Parenthood, Columbia Willamette
Now, a few years later, Nancy is fulfilling her dream. She found a path forward by getting a job as a clinical assistant with Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette (East Portland, Oregon) where SEIU members have Education Fund benefits. When she heard about the Ed Fund, she says “I couldn’t believe that something like that even existed. I thought it was too good to be true.”
Nancy intends to pursue a Medical Assistant degree or certification, and is working on her prerequisites now, by using the Education Fund’s College Courses program to pay for them.
No matter your age, or how long you’ve been away, going back to school can be daunting. “I was so nervous,” Nancy said. “Trying to do everything online can be nerve-wracking. The process can be very stressful”. Thankfully, she found the support she needed through the Education Fund. “Overall, my whole experience with the Ed Fund has been super positive.”
“I am a first-generation child, from two parents who immigrated from Mexico, so going to college is not only impactful for my family, but for my whole life in general. The Education Fund has impacted my life. It’s helping me down the road in the future with my career path and choices.”
Kaiser Permanente, Sunset Medical Center
When he began his educational journey, the Education Fund supported him by paying for the tuition and the textbooks for his RN program prerequisites and general education courses. As the classes started to become more intense, the Education Fund provided him online tutoring services available 24 hours a day. Once he passed the TEAS and officially enrolled in the RN program, he became eligible for the Education Fund’s Wage Replacement program along with reimbursement of the RN program’s tuition, textbooks, NCLEX study materials, and NCLEX application fee!
Due to all of Eric’s hard work and dedication, he was recently accepted into Kaiser’s RN new grad program and started his dream job in February 2021.
Eric shares this piece of advice with future Ed Fund learners: “I know this is a long and difficult journey, but please do not give up that easily. If I can do it so can anyone! I cannot thank the Education Fund enough for my new career!!”
El Camino Hospital
The Education Fund developed a special five-week intensive CNA program specifically for the eight interested dialysis technicians. The small group received excellent training from the Education Fund’s partner school, and their Ed Fund counselor made sure they were supported each step of the way. Kevin says, “Her professionalism, wisdom, and intelligence were only surpassed by her genuine caring for all students involved.”
Kevin is now a licensed CNA, team leader, and union steward who is taking his first steps to become an RN. About his experience with the Education Fund, Kevin says “I would encourage any member to take full advantage of the Ed Fund, its programs, and knowledgeable staff.”
Kaiser Permanente, Stockton
As a Teleservice Representative, Mayela began her journey with the Education Fund with the goal of making her current job better and having the option to help patients face to face. She initially signed up to attend a few Critical Skills webinars, along with our Excel, Telehealth, and Introduction to Online Learning courses. She says, “I have attended a few of these webinars and I have learned a great deal. I truly enjoy them!!! They share how to see things from a different perspective and how to maintain a positive attitude by sharing tips for self-care. In a nutshell, they share ways to keep ourselves in check.”
By working with the Education Fund she says “I have been able to take classes and courses related to my job. Every training or class I have taken, has really made my job easier. I can’t emphasize it enough: there is always room for improvement, and you can’t go wrong by taking advantage of free training/education.” She goes on to share that she plans to definitely take advantage of what the Ed Fund has to offer and review the information and current programs available.
Mayela’s positive experience with the Education Fund has led her to become an unofficial ambassador: “Thanks to the support from my boss and the Ed Fund, we were able to create more awareness about the different opportunities the Ed Fund has to offer. In addition, we were able to coordinate for our department staff to attend the entire series of the Critical Skills Webinars currently offered by the Ed Fund. I’m so proud to be a member of the Ed Fund!!!”
CNA – ALL SAINTS SUB ACUTE AND REHAB CENTER
I have been a CNA at All Saints Sub Acute and Rehab Center for 10 years. I learned about the Education Fund benefit when we were renegotiating our bargaining agreement and they wanted to take it out. We didn’t want this benefit removed, so we began to take classes.
Since 2012 I have taken as many classes as I could, including computers, CPR, Medical Terminology, and Spanish. Spanish really helped me with my job because we have patients who aren’t comfortable communicating in English. A fellow employee was studying Hemodialysis and I grew interested in that program. I wanted to use the Education Fund for additional training, and that’s when I found out about the Advance Your Career Program. I was worried that I might not be qualified, but my counselor, Monica, encouraged me and helped me apply. I was approved and they paid for my schooling, books, and the exam. I recently passed my certification exam and am applying for employment. I’m hoping to find some parttime work that can supplement my income, so I can stay at All Saints.
Now I’m encouraging my co-workers to do what I did, to go to school and take advantage of their benefit. Participating in Education Fund programs means you can explore, you can advance, and you can expand your opportunities.
RN, GOOD SAMARITAN HOSPITAL, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA (HCA)
I would like to start off by saying that I would not be an RN right now if it weren’t for the Education Fund. I am a wife and mother of two young children, so I needed a full-time income in order to survive. The Ed Fund gave me that little bit of flexibility with my schedule that allowed me enough time to study. I must also commend the counselors, who were very supportive and always available when I needed them or had questions.
I heard about the Education Fund from a co-worker when I was working as an OB Tech at Good Samaritan. I was so excited to find out there was this kind of help available. I went through several struggles during my two years in school – my husband lost his job, we filed for bankruptcy, tried to keep our home and eventually had to short sale our house – all the while trying to maintain a happy home for our children. I’ll tell you one thing, if you truly want something badly enough you can get through anything!
I feel very fortunate to have gotten a job as a new grad in the NICU at Good Samaritan Hospital in this economy. I worked extremely hard to get there. I kept my full-time status, always went to work on time and was a pleasant person to be around no matter how stressed I was. My co-workers and management team were very supportive. I have so much to be thankful for, including the Education Fund program and its staff. I am excited to start my new career and see a bright future for myself and my family.
MEDICAL ASSISTANT, KP EUCLID MEDICAL OFFICES, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
I worked as File clerk at KP Bellflower for 11 years. When I heard last year that my job was being eliminated, I wasn’t happy, but I thought this might be the opportunity I’d been waiting for to go back to school. I enrolled in a Medical Assistant program in the spring and finished school in December 2010. I took the national certification exam and passed, and started working in February 2011 at KP’s Euclid Medical Offices in Orange County.”
This program really helped me to grow both professionally and as a person. I have three kids and am taking care of an older parent, and have been through the healthcare system with ill family members. Now that I’m a Medical Assistant, I have a better understanding of how it all works. I have mostly elderly patients, so at first I was nervous about causing them pain, but now that I’ve gotten to know them we have a great working relationship. I know many of their names and we have become friends.
I want to thank KP and the union for this benefit, because without this program a lot of people wouldn’t be able to go back to school and better themselves. Getting a higher wage has helped me to catch up on my bills and provide better for myself and my children. The counselors that I had through the Education Fund helped me to get through this – they’re like a second family for me. They showed me that they care about me, encouraged me & provided me with great motivation. Next, I want to go back for my LVN or RN degree. I love helping people and being a KP employee.
KAISER PERMANENTE, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
From the time I migrated to the USA from Indonesia, I planned to go back to school. I enrolled in a Certified Nursing Assistant Program, which opened my eyes to bigger horizons in the healthcare profession. I went on to get certified as an EKG technician and was hired at Kaiser Permanente, South an Francisco. When I learned about the Respiratory Therapy Program at Skyline College, I was eager to further my education but worried about finding the time to go to school. Luckily, my manager introduced me to the Stipend Program. If not for her, I would not have been able to complete my training. The program was not easy. For the entire two years, I took no vacations and did no socializing. I had to wake up at 3:00am every day to keep up with my classes. I was blessed to have Daisy Kinyauo as my Education Fund counselor. She was always on my side when I had questions. Everything paid off, and I graduated with high honors and was awarded “Outstanding Student.” In October 2010, I found a new benefited job as a Respiratory Care Practitioner at my home facility, getting paid 48% more than I did before. I am now registered as a student at Oregon Institute of Technology to get my Bachelor’s degree in Respiratory Care so I can continue my professional growth.
HCA – RIVERSIDE COMMUNITY HOSPITAL
When I found out that our hospital was planning to require all surgical techs in my department become certified, I was concerned. Sixteen of us were not certified; that was 95% of our department. I immediately began to organize by talking to staff, management, and the Education Fund. Everyone was incredibly responsive and supportive. The Education Fund stepped in and provided us with a quality instructor to prepare us for the exam, as well as covering expenses for our books, the exam, and certification. The hospital provided us with the space to study and even paid for our time while we were taking the review class.
All of us had to work very hard. I finished surgical tech school in 1984 – 30 years ago! – and now I needed to take this exam and get certified. What helped me get through it was thinking about the future and thinking about all the support I was getting. They were doing their part so I would have to do my part as well. After about three months, I was the very first one to become certified, and everyone in our department followed one by one. Now we are the first hospital to have 100% certification of Surgical Technicians in the O.R. amongst all HCA hospitals in the US – this makes me very proud.