Life presents each of us with challenges and setbacks, and it is up to each of us to decide how to respond. Meagan Puckett chose not to give up.
Her story of graduating from the Medical Practice Administration (MOA) program at Surry Community College is one of resilience. She began taking classes in the MOA program at age 17, then completed it nearly two decades later at age 36.
“Meagan is the definition of perseverance. She knew what she wanted and she didn’t give up on her goal,” said Mitzi Poore, CSC’s senior instructor for MOA/office administration.
Puckett did not follow the traditional public high school route. She left North Surry High School after her second year.
“My parents took me out of school because I started getting in trouble and was taking the wrong path. My parents decided to homeschool me,” Puckett said. started home schooling in 2001, and it lasted about three months before my mom and I realized it wasn’t working for us. At that point, I decided to go to Surry Community College for the GED instead of going back to North Surry. I went there and took the pre-test which allowed me to skip the classes. Now I just had to wait for the test.
However, the North Carolina legislature had just passed a law requiring students to attend school or progress toward a degree to retain a driver’s license or learner’s permit if they were under 18 years old.
“So I had to attend the class for three hours a day until the next test came out. For three months I went to study my allotted hours, then I took the test in April 2002. I actually passed with honors – something I didn’t know you could do with a GED.
After passing the GED test and earning a high school equivalency diploma, Puckett started medical office administration classes at CSC in 2002. She wasn’t sure it was the right program for her because she was torn between wanting to be a nurse or working in a doctor’s office.
“I had a strong desire to help people in my work,” she said.
His mother, Jill Puckett, inspired Puckett’s aspiration to work in the medical field. Jill Puckett worked for Novant Health for 31 years and retired as Director. Meagan Puckett recalls that at the age of 5 or 6 she graduated from Surry Community College when her mother completed the transition program as a licensed practical nurse to obtain a nursing associate degree nurses to become a registered nurse. His mother went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, then a master’s degree in health care administration, and works in administration at Northern Regional.
“My mom helped me get my first job at Novant when I was 17,” Meagan said. “I started as a financial advisor/patient access specialist in the emergency room at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston. I stayed there for nearly two years before being transferred to the cardiac floor as a unit secretary where I worked for two years before leaving Novant to pursue other opportunities. I returned to Novant Health in 2013 as a Central Planning Specialist at Novant Health Imaging Maplewood for a year and a half, then transitioned to a Patient Services Coordinator at Novant Health Surry Medical Associates, Mount Airy. I worked at Surry Medical for seven years.
Puckett started and stopped going to Surry Community College four or five times in two decades. She is a survivor of domestic violence and a single mother of three children, one with health issues. She lives in Mount Airy with her three children, daughter Natalie, 14, and son Bentley, 11, and son Kyrie, 4.
“Life in general kept me from finishing my studies when I was younger. It would become too stressful so I would have to drop out of school. I had a horrible relationship with domestic violence. I was also a mother single and there was always something going on with the kids. Natalie was diagnosed at nine months old with a genetic condition – neurofibromatosis,” Puckett said. “We were going back and forth between Baptist and Chapel Hill both three months in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices My daughter had to have MRIs every three months.
Natalie has tumors on her optic nerves and Meagan was concerned that her daughter would undergo chemotherapy treatments, but the healthcare team determined that chemotherapy was not necessary.
“I was trying to hold on for my daughter. I remember waiting for the phone call that week, and at 8 p.m. I got the call from the medical team, and they said that there wasn’t enough growth for the chemo because there was no change in her vision. If the tumors start growing again, we’ll be in the same boat. She’s not clear yet, but the doctors explained that once she is a teenager and hits her growth spurt, she should be fine if there are no tumor growths or changes in her vision. head and her vision and be on the lookout for possible crises. She’s a straight college student at 14 and plays volleyball. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’ve been through all of this.
In December 2020, Puckett returned to Surry Community College to complete what she started years ago – an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Practice Administration program. She took all of her required courses online.
“I loved the online aspect. I could organize my schedule and have some flexibility with my classes. I could work all week at my own pace as long as I met deadlines. It was a wonderful opportunity as a working mother. The online medical office administration degree has been a lifesaver. I worked full time, with three children, while I returned to school.
In order to graduate in 2022, Meagan took five classes that spring.
“I was afraid to quit again. There were a lot of late nights and a lot of prayers,” she said.
Puckett graduated in May and a few weeks before she crossed the stage at the start, she had landed a promotion. She is now a managed care specialist at Novant Health and works from home.
“Getting my degree helped me find a new job. It broadened my knowledge. I’ve worked for Novant for so long and had a ton of knowledge and insight to know that’s what I really want to do,” Puckett said. “Completing this degree confirmed that this is who I should be, and it opened doors for me.”
In October, Puckett began working toward a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration through Purdue University Global in an online program. She plans to complete the bachelor’s degree program in June 2023 and was delighted to learn that many of her courses at Surry Community College have been transferred into her bachelor’s degree program.
“Thanks to Surry Community College, a ton of credits have been accepted there,” Meagan said.
Puckett has big plans.
“I hope to become a clinic administrator or obtain a leadership role, and I’m also interested in teaching medical office classes one day,” she said. “I’ve always loved the healthcare industry. I love how fast it is. There is never a slow moment. I love that it’s constantly evolving and there’s always something new to learn and grasp.
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