Just two months after graduation, Paige McCarthy landed her dream job.

As a medical assistant for a busy plastic surgeon’s office, she spends a good deal of time with patients as well as the doctors she assists.

The most versatile of health professionals, medical assistants work in a wide range of settings, including physicians’ offices, medical centers, clinics, hospitals and laboratories. They perform administrative, clinical and laboratory tasks, from dealing with orders to taking vitals, setting up for surgery and more.

“I love to help people. It’s hands-on,” McCarthy, of Marathon, reflected. “I spend a lot of time with the patients. Breast patients getting reconstructions, jaw bone replacement – you’re with them for their entire journey, from the moment they learn that they have cancer and you comfort them, to the end point. That’s my role – to be with them through the entire process.”

McCarthy started out as a social science major at Tompkins Cortland Community College, where she still aids the women’s soccer team as an assistant coach. She then transferred to SUNY Oswego, where she played on the team – until she was benched by a torn ACL.

Surgery and rehabilitation sent her to the Binghamton area. While here, she learned about the Medical Assisting degree at SUNY Broome and enrolled.

All of her credits transferred, and the two-year program included several externships that gave her hands-on career experience in local medical offices. The plastic surgeon’s office, it turns out, was her very first externship, followed by one in orthopedics.

Medical Assisting students are a small, close-knit group, and they became close, Paige said. She graduated with a dozen other students in May 2015 and most, if not all, have found jobs.

SUNY Broome also offers a wide range of resources for students to ensure academic success and a smooth transition into the work world. While in college, McCarthy didn’t know how to write an appropriate resume. She signed up for sessions that allowed her to develop this important job skill.

Going forward, Paige may consider pursuing a nursing degree at some point. In the meantime, she loves her job – and her experience at SUNY Broome.

“There are so many different opportunities,” Paige said. “And you can come out almost debt-free with a job. “