Continuing Education

Every Student has a Unique Story

Winona Health Alumnae 250There are currently more than 7,000 medical secretaries in the state of Minnesota, with over 28 percent of them in the southeast. The need for medical secretaries is expected to grow by 34 percent this decade. Southeast Technical offers a variety of nonclinical medical careers in the Medical Support Careers program of study.

Patty Watson, Becky Korder, and Brenda Edwards make up the team of three amazing instructors who teach Medical Support Careers at Southeast Technical and all have had a very positive impact on their students. Watson has been teaching at Southeast Technical for 23 years and in that time, she has clearly had made a big impression on her students. When Watson recently visited Winona Health, Sarnia Square, which houses the Center for Rehabilitation and Urgent Care units, a variety of her former students excitedly stopped to say hello. She remembered each of them in detail, asking specific questions about their family and personal life. What is strikingly obvious is that Watson truly cares about her students and their success; they in turn remember her as a fantastic instructor.

Medical Support Careers alumnae, Beth Wolfe, Lori Kokinos and Cathy Stark are just three of the hundreds of students Watson has worked with over the years.

Beth Wolfe graduated from the Southeast Technical Medical Administrative Secretary A.A.S. program in 2012. "It really helped to be known as a person and not just another student," remarked Wolfe. She credits – in part – small class sizes with getting her prepared to be successful in her career, "I was able to ask questions and really be involved in the learning process." Students in this and a variety of other programs have the flexibility to choose online, hybrid or classroom learning opportunities. Wolfe completed three semesters in the classroom and one semester online.

Watson says, "In this market, graduates need to be the best they can be – Beth is one of the best!" The Medical Secretary training Wolfe received at Southeast Technical started her on her career path. It will not end here; she plans to continue her medical education in preparation for future opportunities in the medical field.

Lori Kokinos graduated with a Medical Secretary Diploma in 2008 and now works in Urgent Care at Winona Health. Kokinos found herself without a job after 20 years when the company she worked for closed. She worked with the counselors at Southeast Technical to find the right path and found that she was really interested in the medical field, but knew that nursing was not right for her, "there are a variety of different roles in the field," she said. That is how she settled on Medical Secretary. Kokinos remembers thinking that "something bad became something good." When another unforeseen disaster occurred, the flood of 2007, and even the books she purchased were destroyed, she found continued support from the college. This experience made her even more determined to complete college, find a job, and move on with her life. She has very fond memories of her time in school. "Patty took time out of her schedule one day to take me home to see my new house being delivered after the flood! I was very honored for the care and concern that was given to me by the instructors; they really went above and beyond."

Cathy Stark graduated from the Medical Secretary program in 2003 and now works in the Center for Rehabilitation with Wolfe. Stark was a non-traditional student; she remembers, "The instructors treated me like there was no age difference." Also, being a displaced worker, Stark says, "It was the best thing that ever happened to me." Her advice to others thinking about a career change, "Go for it! You are never too old to learn." Graduation ceremonies were especially gratifying for Stark. "I was 47 when I went back to school at Southeast Technical. My children and grandchildren were at my graduation. Walking across the stage was amazing," she remembers.

The Medical Support Careers instructors all agree that every student has a real-life story which makes them unique. "We try to enhance their natural abilities and talents to create a well-rounded student who will be prepared for their next career step."

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