Durham Tech alumna walks up the stepping stones of healthcare

lauren smiling in front of greenery, headshotLauren Evoniuk graduated college at the height of the economic recession.

After earning a bachelors in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009, she spent one year studying abroad in Scotland before landing her first job out of school as an administrative assistant in a psychiatric office.

She wanted more, she said.

“I had a realization that I was overeducated and under-skilled. I had a degree, but now I needed a skill that I can get work doing,” Evoniuk said. “I thought healthcare would be a good field because there will always be sick people, so there’s always going to be jobs.”

Evoniuk decided to pursue Medical Assisting and immediately thought of Durham Tech.

“The health tech programs at Durham Tech have a reputation for being some of the best in the area,” she said. “Not just the Medical Assisting program, but Nursing, Surgical Tech and CNA. They’re the best in central North Carolina, so that’s why I decided to enroll here.”

The College held up to its reputation, she said.

“I learned so much in such a short period of time and I learned everything through the prism of practical application, which helped connect the classroom to the real world,” Evoniuk said. “The program demands a lot from you and the instructors hold you to a high standard, but it pays off in the end. Mrs. Breault emphasized very much throughout the program how she wanted us to be the best prepared medical assistants that we could possibly be.”

Angie Breault, Director of the Medical Assisting program, said she wants her students to be well prepared because medical assistants are in high demand in the Triangle.

“Our students are getting offers of employment prior to graduating due to the demand in our area for credentialed medical assistants,” Breault said. “Local facilities are starting to see the value of medical assistants in their ambulatory care settings and are creating a ladder for them to advance, just like Lauren.”

Evoniuk was offered employment at the Duke Outpatient Clinic immediately after finishing the program, and has worked there for the last four years.

“Medical Assisting is a really useful skill set and it’s a skill set that’s in demand. The practice where I worked, we were constantly looking for medical assistants. It’s the sort of job you can do your entire career and it’s also a very versatile stepping stone. If you wanted to later go into nursing, for example, the Medical Assisting program enables you to do that.”

According to Evoniuk, the most rewarding part of the job is creating relationships with the patients.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the patients, especially those who had to come on a regular basis,” she said. “I also worked in the lab drawing blood for a while and I enjoyed being the person who does the reassuring.”

It was through these experiences that she got the desire to become a Physician Assistant, or P.A.

“I worked with a P.A. at my workplace so I knew how they interact with the doctors and nurse practitioners, so I had a pretty good idea of what the job would look like, which was great,” she said. “Between my skill set and the clinical hours I had as a medical assistant, I was able to start applying for P.A. school immediately.”

She interviewed for the P.A. program at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia in October 2018 and got the good news while at work in February 2019.

“I saw the Winchester area code on my phone and quickly stepped into an empty exam room. They were calling to offer me a seat,” she said. “A lot of good screaming ensued. The doctors and nurses I worked with were very happy for me.”

Evoniuk starts P.A. school in July 2019 and will graduate in December 2021.

From an administrative assistant, to a medical assistant, and now physician’s assistant, she said she won’t forget the stepping stones that got her to this point.

“Durham Tech impacted the run up to P.A. school in a big way,” Evoniuk said. “They’re the ones that gave me my medical assisting skill set and I took all of my prerequisites for P.A. school here as well.”

Evoniuk has some advice for potential students on the fence about the Medical Assisting program.

“Do it. I’ve encountered medical assistants who have gone through other programs, who were good medical assistants, but not quite as prepared as the ones from Durham Tech were. They take good care of you, and they’re going to prepare you really, really well for clinicals and to be a professional.”

If you’re interested in learning more or attending an information session, please visit the Medical Assisting program page.

If you have any questions, contact Angela Breault at 919-536-7200 ext. 8098, or breaulta@durhamtech.edu.