DALLAS — Karla Norris never had that ‘ah-ha moment’ when choosing her career as a medical assistant.
“I’ve always been that kind of person,” she said. “I like helping people. I like to listen. I like to take care. That’s what I do. I take care of people. I’ve always been that way.”
Norris’ dedication to patient care earned her the vote as being one of the region’s favorite nurses by Times Leader readers in celebration of National Nurses Week.
Nurses Week, which is from May 6 to May 12, is designed to express appreciation to the nursing profession, as well as an opportunity to learn about the medical field, according to the American Nurses Association’s website, www.nursingworld.org.
Norris’ recognition does not surprise her colleague, Dr. Michael Kovalick.
“I’ve worked with Karla for 12 to 15 years,” Kovalick said. “She really cares about her patients, which is key. She thinks on her feet.”
Norris has been a nationally certified medical assistant for more than 22 years, which includes 17 years at Geisinger Dallas Family Practice, 114 Lt. Michael Cleary Dr., Dallas.
A medical assistant is different than a nurse, she said.
“What (medical assistants) do in our clinic sites is not much different (than a nurse) in our patient care; a hospital environment, it is different,” Norris said. “At a clinic site, I am allowed to do everything that (nurses) do like administer medication and injections, take vital signs. I assist in all procedures.”
One of the few medical procedures she can not perform is inserting an IV, she said.
Her favorite aspect of her job is working “one-on-one with the patients,” Norris said.
“I love spending time with the patients,” Norris said. “Everyone in this office – we are all one big group – we all put patients first.”
In the early days of her career, Norris, who is originally from Bushnell, Ill., worked as an EMT.
She started her training to become a medical assistant near her hometown with courses at the former Mid State College and Spoon River College, which are both closed, she said.
When her husband’s company transferred him to the Wyoming Valley, Norris, her husband, David, and daughter, Hilari, set down roots in Kingston.
She also continued her education at the former Star Technical Institute, which was located in Wilkes-Barre.
“To get all my current certifications took 17 months,” Norris said, adding that every year she invests 17 hours earning continuous education credits to re-certify.
Plus, by working in Geisinger’s clinical setting, she is continually learning.
“I learn something new every day when I work with Dr. Kovalick,” Norris said. “He has taught me so much.”
Norris has expanded her career to include being an instructor at Fortis Institute in Forty-Forty.
“Now, I teach people how to do what I do,” she said.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.