....1025 Old Farm Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360••••• Main, 805-497-2761Fax, 805-374-1167•••••• www.ConejoAdultEd.org••••••WASC-accredited

Staff Spotlight
More testimonials in these programs:
Student... Computer Medical Adult Basic Ed Learning Center
Staff... Computer Medical Adult Basic Ed Community
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Medical staff:
Leslie Alexander Jeremiah Bush Kathy Duncan
Nancy Gonzalez Dan Kost Marina Proektor
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Our professional staff is dedicated to teaching students the skills they need in the medical field and to helping bring students' career goals to fruition. We offer daytime & evening programs in a variety of specializations.
 
Nancy Gonzalez
 

Our Pharmacy Technician instructor, Nancy Gonzalez, characterizes herself as a do-it-yourselfer. That is how she came to achieve her knowledge and eventual certifications in the pharmaceutical field. While learning the ropes in doing compounding for a local homeopathic manufacturing company, she eventually studied the applicable materials on her own and passed the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Board exam. "It was an extremely challenging process," says Nancy.

In addition to her national certification, she is certified for chemo therapeutic drugs. An Exemptee License with the California State Board of Pharmacy enables Nancy to manufacture pharmaceuticals by compounding the raw materials. Her skills in this area prepared her to run a laboratory for homeopathic remedies. On a broader scale, Nancy has worked in the pharmacies at Glendale Memorial

 

Hospital, Pacific Alliance Medical Center and a number of other regional hospitals. She has won awards for both productivity as well as perfect attendance and reliability, which reflects her dedication and professionalism.

It is this wealth of experience that Nancy draws from when she imparts her wisdom on her students in teaching them proficiency in the technical skills of compounding for neonatal and adult populations, drug classification among many others. The goal of Nancy's efforts, since she began teaching for the Adult School in Fall 2009, is helping others obtain a career in this field, which she focuses on doing in her program during what she considers the "perfect hours" of her schedule. Her ability to instruct is enhanced by having all the materials and equipment she needs to do her job as well as the cooperation of those in the school's medical department.

Nancy loves to sew and is a seamstress by trade. In addition, she calls herself a "huge Ebayer" buying up department store closeouts and returns and selling them on the popular auction site. With the assistance and cooperation of others, she believes that she can have it all. That can-do attitude is Nancy's formula for personal success, one which serves her well in being an inspiration to her students.

 

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Kathy Duncan
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Kathy Duncan, instructor for our Medical Department's Physical Therapy Aide course since fall 2009, has worked as a Licensed Physical Therapy Assistant for some 23 years.

She uses her expertise to teach students skills for aiding physical therapists in different medical settings such as in-hospital, outpatient, assisted living and skilled-nursing facilities. Her students are trained to assist their patients with getting out of a bed or chair, using a walker or cane and doing exercise routines. In addition to working with individual patients, her students learn to do various administrative tasks such as making appointments, pulling charts, calling with friendly appointment reminders, organizing the materials for home exercise programs, tracking and following up on patient insurance benefits and working as a liaison between the physical therapist and a hospital or clinic business office.

With a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University Northridge in Kinesthesiology with a subspecialty in Adapted Physical Education, Kathy went

on to earn a Master's Degree in Gerontology Administration from the University of La Verne. As a Licensed Physical Therapy Assistant, she has worked with younger and older populations at West Hills Hospital, Sporte Physical Therapy and, currently is employed at Seven Oaks Physical Therapy & Fitness Center in Westlake Village.

Kathy brings her many years of experience in the field to her classroom. "I really like working with adults who are interested in expanding their knowledge and interest in physical therapy and fitness," she says. "Being able to provide my students with the assistance needed to excel for a future career in this field is very gratifying."

The Conejo Valley has been home to Kathy for 37 years. Always on the move with personal fitness and other pursuits, Kathy spends time working out, hiking, playing tennis, doing photography, camping, 4-wheeling and watching pro sports. In addition, she enjoys working with seniors and participating in fundraising and public awareness education activities for organizations such as the Alzheimer's Association and Arthritis Foundation.

The way in which Kathy pursues such a full, active lifestyle, she is indeed the embodiment of physical and mental well-being.

 

 
Leslie Alexander
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Medical Billing and Coding instructor Leslie Alexander, takes what may seem like a daunting subject area and breaks it down into bite-size pieces for her students. It's certainly relevant that Leslie is starting her Adult School teaching career in the year 2010 when the long-awaited landmark healthcare legislation was passed. She's interested in staying current in this ever-changing field, especially with all of the new insurance plans that are on the horizon. The curriculum of the course she teaches covers the entire process of the insurance billing cycle--familiarization with various types of plans, the variety of codes that are standard in medical billing, posting charges, explanation of benefits and sending claims.

Leslie attended Pepperdine University where she obtained a solid foundation through her coursework in accounting, finance and marketing, culminating in her earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. It was through her 4-year-long employment at a dermatologist's office that she learned while on the job, "feet to the fire," as she put it, the intricacies of medical billing and coding.

It won't be as daunting a task for Leslie's students, since they are in a formal course in which they are learning step-by-step all the skills they need to know in order to work in a doctor's office, hospital or insurance company. "My students are very motivated to learn," says Leslie. "They really keep me on my toes."

Leslie's husband David of 20 years, had been assistant technical director for 10 years at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and is now in the same capacity at the Bedrosian Theater Pavillion at Oaks Christian. It is there that their 17-year-old son, who is a sophomore, and 12-year-old daughter, a 7th grader attend school.

Traveling is a favorite leisure time activity for Leslie, especially taking long car trips as a family. With an appreciation of the literary arts, she's an avid reader and loves attending live theater events--especially musicals, with her husband and children.

Says Leslie, "I love interacting with my students and encouraging them that they can master the subject matter." Her enthusiasm for sharing her knowledge and experience with others makes her a welcome addition to our outstanding medical department faculty and will insure that those in her program will meet with success, both in the classroom and out in the real world of work.

Interview & article by Elise Kane

 
Marina Proektor
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Marina Proektor has been involved in the medical field since beginning as a Cedars-Sinai volunteer in her high school days, a gradual liking of science progressing to what she describes as her “niche.” She attended San Diego State University, earning her Bachelor’s degree in Classical Humanities, an area of study pertaining largely to ancient Greek and Roman culture. She minored in Biology, graduating in 2007. All the while and beyond graduation, she tutored in anatomy and general chemistry, a pursuit of 10 years total.

After moving back to Los Angeles, Marina reassumed her volunteer position at Cedars-Sinai. She then took a course in phlebotomy, being hired soon thereafter as Cedars staff in that department. She began taking community college courses that were prerequisites for the nursing program she went on to complete with a B.S. from Mount St. Mary’s College in 2012. In this time, she conducted research through Children’s Hospital of L.A., using cultured cell lines and mice to focus on pediatric leukemia. This led to co-authoring a paper that was published in Cancer Research, a medical journal.

Through her volunteerism at Cedars and time spent on Children’s Hospital research, she made the determination that medical school would not be a fit for her based on the fact that doctoring would potentially involve sacrificing too much of family life. However, she knew teaching was of interest to her—something she desired to pursue as a hobby if not as a full-time profession—and so she found an opening at Conejo Adult School in addition to her part-time phlebotomy post she continues at Cedars.

Able to have direct patient interactions, she values the development of what she describes as rapport with patients and the trust in her as their representative and advocate. It is an immense responsibility she notes, and very gratifying, as well as a meaningful experience in understanding the gravity of not taking advantage of others’ reliance.

Marina enjoys putting her Classical Humanities knowledge to use in the context of medicine, the Greek and Latin word roots she learned making it easy to decipher medical terminology. It’s fulfilling, she notes, that two areas of her interest and experience have come together.

Aside from professional interests, Marina enjoys bicycling, hiking, learning new sports (snowboarding, most recently), and traveling to anywhere “nice and rainy and snowy,” she says. She also enjoys listening to music and reading—namely short stories and classics—and has “a weird curiosity” about old children’s books, like the original Grimm Brothers tales.

Interview & article by Elise Kane

 
Interview & article by Elise Kane

Interview & article by Elise Kane

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Jeremiah Bush
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Jeremiah Bush has been a Conejo Valley Adult School instructor since 2012 and an EMT since 2006. He always knew he wanted to work and teach in the medical profession, he says, citing the possible influence of family members’ affiliation with it, such as his grandfather’s career in the fire department. 

Jeremiah completed his EMT coursework at Casa Loma College in Hawthorne and started work as an EMT the same year, following up with more advanced paramedic coursework in 2009 at a San Francisco-Bay Area training institute. He then pursued his hospital internship in Arcadia and per a connection through a friend, went to Louisiana for four months to complete his field internship—not traditional, he says, in that most trainees pursue all their instructional work in one region.

In the same set of years, he started an educational blog that focused on his work in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) field, journaling emergency call and patient-related experiences he found meaningful to him personally and thought might be interesting or useful for other professionals. He also began attending national conferences and creating an overall broadening of his presence in the industry. This extended to participating in the EMS podcast, Generation Medicine, whose topics range from disaster relief issues to learning struggles new EMTs face. His most recent involvement is a trip to Germany during which he participated in ambulance ride-alongs in order to observe, compare and contrast, and form a body of knowledge about EMT methodology as it is practiced abroad.

Having previously served in L.A. County, Jeremiah has been working in Ventura County since May 2012 and is currently stationed in Newbury Park. He was introduced to Conejo Adult School by way of a now-former Adult School instructor who brought him in as a guest teacher, assistant in skill exercises and testing, and exam proctor. When the same teacher moved on in the profession, Jeremiah was recommended as a replacement and, after obtaining a certification for teaching emergency medicine, he took the job.

In addition to his present Adult School post, he has been teaching CPR and more advanced pediatric and cardiac life support workshops elsewhere since approximately 2010/2011. In contrast to these one-day-long classes, however, he finds his longer-term Adult School courses particularly fulfilling on account of the teacher-student relationship he is able to form, enabling him to witness his students progress along a skills-development timeline.

Jeremiah describes the CVAS classes he teaches as including a lot of material in a relatively short time period but also as “very worthwhile,” and “very useful" even if students do not plan on becoming paramedic workers. He believes the courses offer great exposure to practicing medicine on a basic level and “a way to not spend a lot of money or time but still be in a capacity of treating patients.” He views the coursework as excellent training in first aid and a good primer for those interested in other areas of the field, such as fire rescue.

He clarifies that EMT work is not always work with extreme cases.

Interview & article by Elise Kane

Dan Kost
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Dan Kost is one of Conejo Adult School’s EMT instructors. He says he always wanted to be a firefighter since he was a kid—the possible inspiration being his veterinarian father and nurse mother—and that training to be an EMT was in preparation for that area of work.

“It was a process of getting to that field,” Dan says.

However, by the time Dan completed his schooling, he was well beyond the cut-off point for what is considered the ideal firefighter age.

“It was quite a long time before I decided I wanted to come play firefighter,” he says.

Despite this, he considers his old dream realized: he is currently a supervisor with the American Medical Response of Ventura (AMR), an organization whose EMTs often work closely with fire department personnel out on emergency calls.

“That [has] satisfied my need of what I wanted to do with my life,” Dan says.

Though it had always been a goal to work in emergency care, Dan’s career path started a long way off from that endeavor: in the art, design, and construction worlds. He was always interested in construction and possibly planned on being an architect, he says. In keeping with the theme, he started his own landscape business right out of high school, which he pursued in parallel with his higher education: he completed his general ed requirements at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Pierce College in Woodland Hills, and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, and then transferred to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, majoring in Art Design with a Graphic Arts emphasis.

After college, Dan moved to the Bay Area and worked as a project manager for a large construction company. After about a year and a half, he moved to Los Angeles and ended up working for a very large air conditioning company for seven years. He considers his time in the field a primer, in a way, for what later became his teaching roles out in the EMT world and, most recently, at Conejo Adult School.

“You’re always learning and teaching people in that field,” he says.

The turning point for Dan in making the transition out of the construction line and into the realm of EMTs was based on an experience he had as a volunteer for the Red Cross.

“We were working the Rose Bowl game and at the first aid booth there was a gentleman who went into cardiac arrest right in front of us,” Dan says. “It was the first time I used CPR on a live human and he ended up living. He saw us at the next event and thanked us.”

It left the “powerful impression,” Dan says, that the man was only alive because of his rescue work.

In 2000, Dan returned to school—this time to become an EMT. One of his first jobs after training was serving on the medical staff at Magic Mountain, where he and other professionals were responsible for treating ill or injured visitors and workers at the park. Concurrently, he worked on emergency ambulances based out of Brea, Gardena, and Inglewood. He went to paramedic school through the Daniel Freeman Paramedic Program at UCLA, subsequently working as a paramedic in Cerritos for a year before transferring to the Ventura County AMR in 2005 and working as a field training officer.

He says he always enjoys teaching new paramedics how an emergency response company works, an affinity that created, he says, his “first real teaching experience.” Over time, he says, he and a co-worker have seen many poorly trained EMTs and at a point got to wondering how training systems were failing.

“We were seeing a lot of poorly trained EMTs coming through looking for jobs and we wondered, ‘Why aren’t they teaching anything [that the new recruits] need to know for a job?’” Dan says.

When it came to Conejo Adult School’s program, Dan believed its type of training to be one “with that same ideal,” as his notions of how EMTs should be taught. He saw the prospective new job as a chance for him to provide that quality of training he has thought many students in the area have lacked.

“That was an opportunity to, I felt, do a better job of teaching EMTs out there,” he says.

He has found it fulfilling to teach others the essential skills they need help injured patients, or even save their lives.

“Overall, I mean, it’s a good feeling of accomplishment that I feel, working in the field and knowing what it takes,” Dan says. “There’s a sense of accomplishment knowing I’m at least giving [students] the information they need to know to be successful. It’s very rewarding that we’re actually doing the right thing and teaching them the right material.”

Dan says EMTs must not be “monetarily bound to things,” noting that he himself left his six-figure construction salary behind in favor of the much lower-paying EMT and paramedic work he pursued.

“You’re actually doing something with your life versus a nine-to-five,” Dan says. “It’s a chance to make a difference in this world and if you do it long enough [you make a difference] in multiple people’s lives. This is a job about feelings and not about money.”

There is a demographic of people who are particularly well-suited for—or at least attracted to—the job, Dan has observed, and believes that an EMT has to have an outlet for what can be the emotionality of it.

 “We’re almost mostly ‘type A’ personalities doing this job,” Dan says. “It’s definitely an adrenaline rush; everything is fast and it’s quick and it’s lights and sirens…there’s kind of a little bit of rebel in everybody…we definitely like the more extreme. It’s a different lifestyle to be able to do this. If you don’t cope well with that, then it’s really difficult to do this job.”

Of the profession on the whole, Dan reflects on his involvement in it and its meaning for him in helping others and saving lives.

“If, at the Pearly Gates, I didn’t do much,” Dan says, “The direct actions that I did—that’s kind of gonna be good enough for me.”

Interview & article by Elise Kane

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Questions about our Medical Programs? Contact Professional Development coordinator Wendy Summerfield:
805-497-2761 x1011 or WendyS@ConejoAdultEd.org She will give you complete information about our programs,
as well as arrange for a tour of our beautiful, safe campus.
 
Questions about Medical Dept. classes?
Contact dept. coordinator Daren Iezza:
805-497-2761 x1401, DarenI@ConejoAdultEd.org
Medical Billing questions?
Call 805-497-2761 x1402 ..... Externship questions? Call 805-497-2761 x1404

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