Tracy Meyer, an Air Force veteran and mom of three, knew all about dedicated service and had a time-tested heart for people when she decided to start college in Alaska. She was a single mom with young kids when she enrolled in her first classes at Kodiak College, hoping that her skills would transfer to the medical assisting field. A decade of professional success post-college, including recent accolades as the Alaska VA Healthcare System Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) of the Year, as well as CMA of the Year for the entire Northwest region (Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Idaho), seems to indicate she made a smart choice.
“I’d always wanted to be on the medical side of the house,” Tracy says of her decision to start the medical assisting program. She’d spent a decade working more administrative roles in supply at McChord Air Force Base in Washington as well as serving in Saudi Arabia. She enjoys the fact that her career path helped her circle back to a job working with veterans.
While she was in school, she did her own homework side by side with her kids and developed a firm no-excuses-for-unfinished-homework rule for the household. If someone was hemming and hawing about no time to complete their work, she’d say, “Well, I’m going to be up until midnight finishing my work. Guess you’ll stay up with me and finish your essay.”
Watching their mom work hard in school left a lasting impression on Tracy’s kids. “It was good inspiration for them,” she says. Her kids, two boys now aged 23 and 19 and her daughter, 14, were proud when their mom accepted her college diploma 11 years ago.
Tracy has spent the last nine-and-a-half years working at the VA, developing relationships with long-term patients, which suits her well. “I wanted to work at a place where I could say, ‘Oh, Mr. Smith, how’re your knees doing today? How’s your wife doing?’ More of a personable connection where my patients could trust me.”
“I’m inspired every day,” Tracy says. She appreciates the flexibility her degree and skills afford her. At the VA, she takes on new challenges whenever they are offered. She currently works in a growing field: telemedicine. Teledermatology, to be specific.
Because Alaska’s VA doesn’t have a dermatologist on staff, they have developed a teledermatology program with doctors in Seattle. Tracy is tasked with being the first point of contact for patients in need of dermatological services, interviewing them and relaying a full report as well as images to the docs in Washington.
Tracy also plays an important role for the next generation of health care workers in Alaska. She’s been working as a preceptor for medical assisting and nursing students from UAA, Charter College and other programs, guiding them through the everyday reality of working in their field.
When she isn’t busy with work, Tracy enjoys extending Alaska’s short-ish growing season in her greenhouse, planting flowers and making her own hanging baskets. She also likes to travel with her husband of three-and-a-half years, Daniel.
“I’d like to get more into teaching,” she says, when asked about plans for her professional future. She believes the skills she’s worked hard to develop, both in school and in the work force, make her a great trainer. And she always keeps an eye out for single parents working their way through college, ready to share the wisdom of her own experience. One motto that always felt relevant and got her from A to B: “If you can’t climb over that mountain, just go around it.”
“I’m happy being a medical assistant. At work I’m the go-to person—I either know the answer, or know who to ask,” says Tracy. Her patients are in good hands and appreciate her competent care and the listening ear they get each time they cross paths with this UAA School of Allied Health alum.