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Graduate Spotlight ~ Montana Waibel

Name, Age, what course did you take and where are you originally from?

Montana Waibel, 27, Remington, In, CPT [Certified Phlebotomy Technician] class

What were you doing before you attended SJC?

I have a bachelor's degree from Indiana State University in Communication focused on media studies. I worked at a news station for about a year. Started as a PA then became a news producer. Then I did odd jobs when I moved home, some administrative jobs and I waitressed as I went through the CPT class.

How did you hear about our programming, or what made you choose SJC?

I actually applied to go to SJC my senior year of high school 2014 and got a scholarship but I wanted to go further away from home. When I moved back in 2019 I saw that the school had reopened to some smaller and shorter classes. My Mina (grandmother) suggested I look into the classes offered and needles and blood drew me in!

What were the other options you were considering in addition to Saint Joe’s?

I really wanted to be a mortician but the programs are very competitive and I didn’t have high enough grades from ISU to get into the program. I figured if I couldn’t work with dead bodies, then needles and blood from a living person would be the perfect compromise!

Did you have any goals for yourself before/during your time at Saint Joe?

I wanted to be the best at what I was learning. After knowing the pain of the sticks from being each other's practice bodies, I didn’t want anyone else to feel that pain. I also wanted to have high grades, never miss a class, and get a job right out of graduation.

Did you run into any unexpected challenges while you were taking our program?

I didn’t run into any unexpected challenges except for doing a few fully online days. My laptop was never loud enough for me to truly be able to focus.

How did this class prepare you for your current job?

It taught me all the basics and allowed me to be able to explain some of the science to my patients to take their mind off of the stick itself.

Where are you currently working and what do you like about it? What’s a typical day on the job like?

I currently work at Riggs CHC as a phlebotomist. What I like about working here is being challenged to stick children as young as a few days old to people who are in their 80s.

Favorite memory of your time spent at SJC or something that stood out to you?

My favorite memory while taking the class was my first stick on a live person. My teacher said what the heck, try me and I got a successful stick on my first try! We also ordered local Mexican food and watched a show on our last day in class after doing test prep, that was awesome.

How do you think we could reach future students like you who would also benefit from our programs?

Just keep advertising. Every patient that comes through my lab door that even slightly expresses interest in phlebotomy or anything like what we do I suggest your classes. It’s affordable, easily added into most people’s schedules, and it’s a small class size so you always get the one on one or closer attention that I always loved from my small town HS. All of my questions were answered and the answers offered to us in the way that each of us learned best.

What advice would you give to a current/interested student who aspires to follow in your footsteps and pursue a similar career path?

Have patience with yourself. Phlebotomy is not a hack job, it’s a form of art to successfully draw blood from any type of patient. You will run into those days where you can’t hit a broad side of a barn but you can’t let that stop you, feel the frustration and keep trying. Phlebotomy isn’t the highest paid profession in the medical field but it’s a special skill that not everyone latches onto and it’s worth it 100%.

Blood donation is a great place to start, you only have healthy veins to stick and you learn the utmost importance of keeping everything sanitary as someone else’s life depends on it. Most places will train you completely as blood is a drug and you have to learn exactly how to collect it safely. It helped me learn how to redirect a needle, find the best veins even if they were small, and the donors help you gain confidence and conversation skills.

If there are any other ways that SJC contributed to your success, feel free to add more.

My teacher offered to be a reference for my first job out of graduation, Versiti Blood Center, and [Program Director] Hali Chapman 💜 helped me make the best resume I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t have had the experience in blood donation or had my foot in the door so quickly without the support from those two ladies.

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