LMP Focus Areas

Super-Size Steps Up the Career Ladder

Nicole Sayeg proves that the road from housekeeping to patient care is more navigable than it may seem

Nicole Sayeg is not one of those people who knew from the start what she wanted to do for a living.

When she landed a housekeeping position at Kaiser Permanente, she never would have guessed that in just a few years she be would taking care of patients—or that she would enjoy it so much.

But with guidance from career counselors and financial assistance from the SEIU UHW-West and Joint Employer Education Fund, the 27-year-old is now working as a medical assistant and on her way to becoming a registered nurse.

"I feel so lucky to have found a career that I love,"said Sayeg, who works in Obstetrics and Gynecology at KP's Orchard Imperial Medical Offices in Downey (Southern California). "I'm so glad I took that housekeeping job because if I hadn't, I would not be here today."

Answering when opportunity knocks

After working as a housekeeper for a couple of years, Sayeg, a UHW-West member, moved to the chart room in search of more challenging work. But just one year later, she learned that the chart room was closing and that she and 40 employees would have to find new jobs. But career counselors told the chartroom workers that didn't mean their careers with KP had to end.

Sayeg and her coworkers had options and were eligible for help through Workforce Planning and Development. She and two other chartroom workers decided to enroll in a medical assistant's program. And before she even finished the program, Sayeg decided to take it a step further and become a registered nurse.

"I proud of all the employees because they really bettered themselves and took advantage of the opportunities," said Linda Buchanan, assistant medical center administrator for Bellflower Medical Center. "I am particularly proud of the three who went to the MA program. They worked nights on the swing shift and went to school during the day for a year. They really committed themselves."

When it came time for Sayeg to begin her internship, the UHW-West and Joint Employer Education Fund replaced her income, which meant she could take a month off from the chart room.

Focused on internship

"It was wonderful to be able to focus on the internship in OB/GYN," Sayeg said. "I could come home at night and reflect on what I'd learned each day, rather than dragging myself to another job. Plus, I had the energy to work hard at my internship."

That hard work paid off for both Sayeg and the Obstetrics and Gynecology department. When the internship was over, OB/GYN offered her a fulltime job.

"She really supports her physician's practice and does things so that they can see more patients," Buchanan said. "She personally turned out to be one of the most passionate and compassionate about patient care."

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