ACC Student Spotlight: Melissa Schneider

06/27/2016

Some people see healthcare as black or white. Melissa Schneider likes seeing it as "Grey's Anatomy."

For years, she was hooked on the medical drama. Schneider loved how cool Dr. Meredith Grey and everyone on the show seemed while saving lives and breaking hearts in a fake hospital. But after enrolling at American Career College-Los Angeles in the surgical technology program, she learned being in an real operating room is much harder than it looks on TV.

ACC Family

We met Melissa Schneider at ACC-Los Angeles before a surgical tech demonstration. Even though she wasn't scrubbing in, Schneider was there to encourage her friends who were assisting in the simulation surgery.

"We're in this together and we help each other. And watching classmates grow and become these amazing students is a really awesome part too. Not only do you get an education, not only do you get support, but you get friends that are here to help you no matter what."

— Melissa Schneider
ACC-Los Angeles, surgical technology

"It's a tough program," the married mother of one said. "They work us."

However, Schneider also has another, more grounded reason for wanting to be in healthcare. She's had 36 surgeries in her life, including one to remove her left eye and install a prosthetic.

"I know what it’s like to be lying on the bed, scared and overwhelmed. I remember when I was going to have my eye removed. It was the scariest part of my life. Everything was going to change and the people that were there — the doctors, the nurses, the scrub techs — they made me feel like I was going to be OK," Schneider said. "I think that’s what made me decide that I wanted to do this. Because they changed my life in the matter of three seconds just touching my hand and saying, ‘It’s going to be OK’ — knowing that going in there I would be forever changed for the rest of my life. And I knew I was going to be OK and they would do the best that they could.

"Just knowing that, if I can do that in three seconds, that’s all that matters,” she said.

Before enrolling at age 38, Schneider worked as an on-call recovery companion for 10 years. The money was good and she was good at her job, Schneider said, but she had always wanted a more hands-on role in the medical field. She was ready for something "new and exciting," she said, but would also pay enough to support her family.

"I searched a lot of other places to see what kind of programs they offered and this was the best," she said.

Schneider said she's been amazed by the student-teacher relationships at ACC-LA and loved that the open-door policy she had been told about during orientation was literally true. She also appreciated how the same faculty worked with students through the whole program.

“I was a little nervous with changing my life completely and starting something new. And ACC offered so much," she said. "I was wondering if they were going to follow through with what they promised and they have."

Once she graduates, Schneider wants to be at a trauma center and dreams about one day volunteering with a Doctors Without Border field unit. Until then, Schneider said, she'll continue studying and working towards her goals with confidence. 

"The teachers have joy, they have passion and they get excited about teaching us new things and you can see it in their faces," she said. “I know this sounds cheesy, but it’s about making people’s dreams come true.”

ACC cannot guarantee employment.

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