Mya Clements, a program secretary in the College of Medicine, began her career with the UI as a learner secretary in the department of nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering in September 2001. Clements, who has been in her current position since September 2006, works with the college’s Internal Medicine Residency Program. Carle Foundation Hospital is the primary teaching hospital for the program. Clements’ department is on the lower level of the Carle Forum. Along with the other members of her department, Clements provides support for medical residents and their families during their three-year stay. Before coming to the university, Clements worked as a customer service representative/receptionist for a local insurance agency.
What do you do every day?
I work with all the residents when they first come here. We go through the process of obtaining visas as well as medical licenses, Net ID passwords on campus, Social Security numbers. We do everything from reimbursements to coordinating an annual graduation banquet for them in June. I also provide support to our program director.
How many residents do you have each year? And what are the challenges of working with them?
We usually have 55. The main challenge is getting them here. When I started working here, I had no experience with medical licenses or visas whatsoever. Learning the immigration process, where rules change constantly, is a challenge.
There are cultural differences. The majority of our residents are from India or Pakistan, so they’re coming from environments we know nothing about. They already have their medical degrees, but there’s so much more that they have to do. A lot of the stuff they have already experienced, but because of their experience here they become more well-rounded physicians.
When they graduate, are they going into practice?
It depends. A lot of times, they’ll be hospitalists – treating hospitalized patients of other physicians – or will go to fellowships.
What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy the people that I work with. I’m one of the rare people who likes to get up and come to work in the morning. My boss, Kathie Buttitta, stresses the team concept, and we honestly do work together as a team and it’s nice. We try to maintain that balance of work and fun. We have retreats where we have lots of fun and work gets done as well. Including the program director, we have four people in our department and two student workers.
I like developing relationships with the residents. We get to see their families during the banquets. In addition to meeting spouses and children, we also may get to meet their parents, aunts and uncles. And it gives you a sense of their values and culture.
We have a holiday banquet every year, and for the 2006 banquet, Dr. Robert Healy (director of the residency program) had an idea that we use the banquet to celebrate holidays from around the world besides Christmas. There were six or seven tables and each table celebrated different religious and cultural holidays. We were able to sample different foods. People wore traditional clothing they would wear in their home country. It was a lot of fun and we learned so much. The residents really enjoyed it; we got a lot of positive feedback and suggestions.
For many of the residents, it’s their first time living in another country. It’s stressful for them, so we try to be that family support base to them. We suggest restaurants to them, places to shop, how to get around town, community events and activities.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
One of my co-workers and I formed a book club called “ChocLits” because we love chocolate and literature. I enjoy reading and baking, especially cakes and cookies. I won a first place in a chocolate chip cookie contest at Carle. I made two three-dimensional cookies in the shapes of giant pills with the Carle logo and “250 milligrams” on them. I put a piece of paper, like a prescription, next to it that said “Take two and don’t call us in the morning.” I had an empty prescription bottle off to the side. That was the first time I competed in anything, and it was a lot of fun.
For Bosses Day, I decorated a cake with the Starbucks logo for Kathie; I made a white cake from scratch, soaked the layers with espresso, put an espresso butter cream between the layers and a chocolate espresso butter cream around the outside.
I also decorated a cake with the Diet Pepsi logo for Dr. Healy.
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