Tell us about you!
My name is Anthony Blackhorse, and I’ve been working at North Country HealthCare as a certified medical assistance since August 2020.
I grew up in a small town called Kayenta on the Navajo Reservation, about 30 minutes south of Monument Valley. It’s a small community that’s mostly off the grid. I moved to Flagstaff eight years ago, and I am a father of three teenage daughters.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in the healthcare?
Before she passed, my oldest sister was a registered nurse for 15 years. She was my biggest inspiration to get into the medical field. My second oldest sister was an EMT [emergency medical technician] for 20 years.
I was also an EMT for 10 years. But dealing with the traumatic side of healthcare got tiring; I suffered from that. As a medical assistant, we get to help people for minor things – a medication refill, a common cold. I work not only with the patients, but also with the providers and patient relations representatives. Healthcare is something I just keep coming back to – it’s a calling.
Where did you go to receive your medical training?
To obtain my medical assistant licensing, I went to College America for a 16-month intense program. That’s where I was connected with my externship at North Country HealthCare. It was 180 hours of on-hands practice, which allowed me to talk to patients, do initial intakes, and gather information from their medical history. I could practice having patient contact, getting vital signs, doing EKGs, and giving injections.
The first day of my externship was nerve-wracking, but I had the help of people who were willing to teach me everything about the process. Now I’m comfortable in my position, and some of the staff come to me with questions. Working with Elaine Accomando has been a great experience. Like all the staff here, she’s very knowledgeable. I rely on her, and she relies on me for a lot of things.
What interests you most about working at a community health center?
I love that the focus is on the community. We don’t turn patients away. We help everyone in every way possible, to the best of our abilities, even those with financial hardship. I found that more intriguing than working at the hospital or private practice.
What has surprised you most since starting your new position?
When I was an EMT, everything was hands-on. We had paper charts, we didn’t use EHR [electronic health records]. Everything was handwritten, and we had direct contact with everyone all the time.
Starting as a medical assistant during the pandemic was a complete 180 – no patient contact, everything was done over the phone. It was hard because you need to build a bond of trust with a patient. You can only do so much over the phone!
It was also obvious very early on that some of our patients just miss human interaction! Some people want to talk during their entire appointment. I get to meet new people, and they are very friendly, exceptional patients.
— Anthony Blackhorse, CMA