Student back in class after two decades

BY Amanda Sotelo

The last time Patricia Aranda was in a classroom was nearly two decades ago, but she is back at Texas State Technical College to start her new career in the Medical Information Transcription field.

The Harlingen native will be graduating with her certificate during TSTC’s commencement ceremony later this month.

“I’m so excited to put on that cap and gown,” she said. “I’ve truly found my passion.”

The 45-year-old’s love for the health profession has grown through the years beginning in 1996 when she earned her certificate in Emergency Medical Services as an intermediate emergency medical technician.

“I’ve always had a love for the medical field,” said Aranda. “And now that my kids are grown it was time to pursue a new career.”

Aranda was a stay-at-home mom for the first years of her children’s lives until she walked the halls with them at a local elementary school as a paraprofessional, only holding a couple of secretarial jobs before that.

Most recently, she was her granddaughter’s primary caretaker.

“Because I had to learn so much about my granddaughter’s health, my passion for the medical field was reborn after several years away,” she said. “And TSTC makes it easy for someone like me to get an education and find a new career.”

The mother of four and grandmother of eight said she has had the greatest experience coming back to school. She added that she loves her classes, instructors, labs and practicum site: Golden Palms Retirement Center and Healthcare in Harlingen.

“Everything we learned in the classroom went hand-in-hand with what we did in the field,” said Aranda. “I was able to use everything taught to me in the classroom to be successful during my practicum.”

She credits TSTC’s Medical Information Transcription Department Chair Debbie Woods and program instructor Jenny Delgado with having a large influence on her success.

“They’re both great instructors and motivators,” she said. “They give us a chance to learn and be somebody by supporting us the entire way.”

It is both their teaching that Aranda said she aspires to someday. She hopes she can be a medical and health information instructor in the future to help others like her. In the meantime, she will be returning to TSTC to pursue an associate degree in Health Information Technology and returning to the medical office setting.

Students like Aranda who enroll in Medical Information Transcription can earn their certificate in three semesters and after successfully completing their practicum course.

Graduates of this program are trained in numerous positions such as assembly clerk, outpatient coder, processing specialist, medical receptionist, billing specialist and medical transcriptionist.

Woods said that the demand for skilled workers in this field is high and the need keeps growing.

“We have a 90 to 100 percent placement rate in our program,” said Woods. “Many of our students are placed in good-paying jobs and have the opportunity to grow within the field.”

There are many career opportunities available for graduates from this program. They can work in hospitals, physician offices, long-term care facilities, behavioral health facilities, schools, insurance companies and even from home.

Woods said they encourage students who are interested in this field to begin in Medical Information Transcription to build a strong foundation before pursuing Health Information Technology, which focuses more on the managerial side of the medical office industry.

“Most of our students come back to health information,” said Woods. “But because they are graduates from our medical information program they have their foot in the door and a better understanding of what is needed and trending in the field.”

To register or for more information on Medical Information Transcription visit The last day to register is August 21