Medical assistant makes dream career a reality

Diana J. Smith

HAMLET – Healthcare and children are two very important things to Kristin Terry. That is why the Purcell Clinic, which specializes in pediatrics, is now home to her budding career as a medical assistant.

A graduate of Richmond Community College’s Medical Assisting program, Terry has been working for the clinic for six years, which has locations in Rockingham and Laurinburg. She is currently the clinical lead, so she plays a major role in making sure the team of nurses and healthcare assistants maintain their standard of excellent care.

Terry is used to working hard and setting high standards for herself. At RichmondCC, she was a member of the National Honor’s Society, and she was always either on the President’s List or the Dean’s List. She graduated in 2007 with the highest distinction of Summa Cum Laude.

Terry said she had a lot of support from her teachers at RichmondCC.

“Renea Craven and Jeanne Hardee were both excellent instructors and very supportive of me and my goals. They always helped me to see my potential,” Terry said.

Terry had another motivating factor to get her degree and have a career: her baby boy.

Terry was 19 years old with a 1-year-old son when she started at RichmondCC in 2005. She was a single mother going to college full time and working full time in childcare.

“When I chose RichmondCC, I was unaware of what path to take, but I knew I wanted to be in healthcare,” she said. “The counselors at RichmondCC were very helpful and supportive in helping me find my way.”

While she knew she was meant to take care of people, she also knew healthcare could require a challenging work schedule for a single mother. When she learned about the Medical Assisting program, she realized she could have a career working in a physician’s office or clinic with a manageable schedule.

“Kristin knew it was important to find a career that is enjoyable, sustainable, and that allows time for what matters most, which was her family,” said Craven, Medical Assisting Program coordinator. “Moms come uniquely equipped to this profession because of their capacity for compassion and empathy. For Kristin, her courage to seek a degree was met with a successful career in healthcare, making a positive difference in many lives.”

Terry is the first in her family to graduate college. She was able to afford college thanks to the financial aid she received, plus she qualified for the Work First program. Work First is North Carolina’s plan to help families stay off welfare or move off welfare and into jobs.

Terry, who lives in Rockingham, now has two children ages 12 and 17.

“My children will always be my number one motivating factor for getting a college degree and a long-lasting career, but I also did it for me,” Terry said. “I wanted to be able to be someone who makes a difference on a daily basis and also be able to sustain a decent life for myself and my family.”

Terry has worked in a variety of healthcare areas, including behavioral services, primary care, OB/GYN and ENT. Her ultimate goal is to become a nurse practitioner, but right now she is focused on her current career at Purcell Clinic.

“RichmondCC was a major stepping stone in the foundation of who I am today. It is such a great place to study and work for your dreams,” Terry said.

To learn more about the Medical Assisting program at RichmondCC, visit or call 910-410-1700. The College admission application is free and can be completed online.

Wylie Bell is the director of marketing and communications for Richmond Community College.

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