Propel America

Learning on the Job at Cooper University Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper

By Jordi Torres, Propel fellow, New Jersey

This piece was originally published on

As a certified medical assistant at Cooper Hospital in the Roberts Pavilion and MD Anderson Cancer Center, I help patients in their battle against cancer. The staff here never let a patient feel they are fighting alone.

As a medical assistant, I do key tasks like taking vital signs and measuring blood sugar. It is my job to make the patient as comfortable as they can be during their stay in the hospital. Because I am bilingual and speak both English and Spanish, I play another key role, too: I can help informally translate for patients. For specific medical issues, I leave it to professional translators, but where I can help with everyday communication, I can. I am so proud to do this. The language barrier is a big problem and the patients have told me that they hate the translator phones. When they need me, I’m there, and I will tell the nurse or doctor right away what they are saying.

I began working here as part of my externship with Propel America. I got connected to Propel my senior year at Camden Academy Charter High School. I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field for my career, but I didn’t know exactly what it would be. Propel was offered as a class for seniors that would lead into training programs and then job interviews for certain roles — including being a certified medical assistant. I decided this would be my starting point in the medical field.

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