This month’s faculty spotlight is on Dr. Laura Balangue, Medical Clinical Curriculum Specialist and Medical Clinical Instructor for MTI College in Sacramento. Dr. Balangue will celebrate her 11th anniversary with MTI this August. Previously she was a director of online education, was in charge of numerous certificate programs and was a director at her church teaching adult learners. Her own educational background consists of 10 years of schooling, eventually graduating as a Doctor of Medicine from Far Eastern University in the Philippines in 1987. She is also certified to teach. This diligent work ethic does not go unnoticed; she won the Best Employee award at an urgent clinic and has received three Excellence Awards from MTI.
Being part of the medical field was something Dr. Balangue knew she wanted to do from an early age, as most of her family members are in the medical field as well. Many of her sisters are nurses and doctors. One of her nieces is a surgeon, and another of her sisters is an optometrist. Much of her family came to the United States, and most also reside in California, although she has a sister in Hawaii. Growing up, Dr. Balangue and her siblings always saw medical textbooks around their house, so her interest started at a young age. Before she began teaching, she practiced as an OB-GYN. When asked what her proudest moment in her career was, she had an incredible story to share. “I was very proud when I operated a lot,” she began to explain. “I was on duty doing my shift. She was not my patient. I thought I was going to lose her; I did my best. She was bleeding a lot, it was a complicated pregnancy.” The patient survived this scary situation thanks to Dr. Balangue’s quick action and thorough skillset. What is even more heartwarming is that Dr. Balangue and this patient became good friends and are still friends to this day. This is a true example of being able to significantly touch peoples’ lives in a positive way by practicing in the medical field.
Dr. Balangue did not stop there. She continued to explain that the next thing she is most proud of in her career is the feedback she gets from students. She is proud of being able to “apply what I’ve learned in my own practice while having fun at the same time.” Teaching is her true passion, explaining that even when she was a child she loved to teach and pretended to be the teacher when playing with friends and siblings. When she was offered the position at MTI, she “did not even give it a second thought.” She also had a standout professor when she was in medical school. She said, “He was my idol. I was so impressed by him.” Making that strong, positive impression is exactly what she is trying to do for her students as well.
In the beginning of her time working for MTI’s healthcare programs, Dr. Balangue taught anatomy and physiology and then clinical assisting. Currently she teaches Laboratory Assisting I and Laboratory Assisting II. In these classes, Dr. Balangue explains that students will be covering many topics, such as symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Specifically in Laboratory Assisting I, there is an emphasis on learning about the electrocardiogram (EKG), teaching students the proper placement. Students also get the privilege and responsibility of being shown all of the modern medical equipment. In Laboratory Assisting II, one item students work on are injections. Students are taught different routes of giving injections and different methods of drawing blood. Regardless of which class she is teaching, Dr. Balangue says she is always emphasizing the students’ need to comply with both the university regulations as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Safety in practice is of the utmost importance.
Thankfully Dr. Balangue and MTI prepare students for this and so much more. She went on to explain that the “main thing here is we have a mission, and our mission is to prepare all of the students with the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary for pursuing successful careers. We want them to be successful.” Adding on to MTI’s overall mission for their students, Dr. Balangue also emphasizes professionalism. She believes in aiming for excellence, effective communication, diversity, teamwork and integrity. Because MTI and Dr. Balangue care so much about preparing students and making sure they are successful, it was with pride she was able to say, “I am proud that the majority of our students get employed. The retention of students is high. I love the staff. They are very, very professional.” All of these are reasons she has been with MTI for so long.
Dr. Balangue’s other passions and hobbies are singing, dancing and reading. She absolutely loves to read and enjoys all sorts of books. Yet she still brought it back to teaching, saying that was her truest passion. Since teaching is such a passion of hers, words of wisdom she likes to share with her students is to not give up. “Keep on going. Work hard or study hard and focus on what you’re doing. If you study hard, you can do it.” She also pointed out that technology is so helpful now compared to when she was in school and that students should take full advantage of what is available to them.
One of the things students initially struggle with when starting a program is time. Dr. Balangue explained that it is a fast-paced program and a majority of students are working; some have families as well. Initially students do not know what to prioritize, but it is all about time management. That being said, whether you are a prospective student wanting to apply, in the middle of the program, or about to graduate, Dr. Balangue leaves us with these powerful words: “When starting out in the field, I always give myself as an example. You have to sacrifice. And don’t stop dreaming.”