In the summer of 2020 Tami Tumbarello’s life was turned upside down when she got into a serious car accident with her adopted 8-year-old son in the car.
In the months that followed, as she fought for the best care for her son, she quickly realized how important it is to have good, compassionate people working in the medical field. She took it as a sign that it was time to leave her temporary job and finally start a career she could love. She decided to enroll in the Medical Assistant Technician Program at Florida Career College in Margate.
“You have to pay attention to what your patients are telling you and what their body is telling you, or telling them,” she said. “There are too many bad medical professionals out there that make the majority of us look bad. I wanted to turn that around.”
School had always been on the backburner for Tami. She became a mother at a young age and dropped out of college. She was always able to find jobs that kept her busy but nothing that made her feel fulfilled. She decided it was time to go back to school to set an example for her son.
“This is an opportunity for me to show him if you put your mind to something there’s no end to what you can do,” she said. Her son toured the campus with her, met her instructors and eventually got to know her classmates as well.
“He had to approve of the school before mommy was allowed to go there,” Tami said. “Now most of the school knows him.”
INSTRUCTOR SUPPORT MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
Shortly after enrolling at FCC, Tami’s sister, who had been diagnosed with cancer several years earlier, took a turn for the worst. Hospice was called and Tami needed to be there to make sure her sister was comfortable. While she knew it was necessary to care for her family in that moment, Tami didn’t think she would be able to stay in school.
Her instructor, Nadine Jean-Pierre, continued to send her assignments and encouraged her to keep going.
“At the end of the first unit I was so far behind I was ready to give up,” Tami said. “I put my books down and told them they don’t need to waste their time anymore. I don’t have the time for this right now. She looked at me and said ‘You ain’t giving up on me that easy.’”
No matter the struggles, Tami found support from her instructor and her fellow classmates.
“I needed someone to hold my hand at that point and there was just such comradery in that unit,” she said. “That’s what I liked most about the program. FCC never gave up on me. They kept pushing me further and further along and told me I could do it. They were right.”
Nadine told her a story about a young woman who got her driver’s license but was afraid to drive home in the rain. Her father encouraged her to keep driving forward and before she knew it, she had driven out of the storm.
“No matter how hard to situation may be, keep on pushing and keep on going,” Nadine said. “From that, she took it and ran with it.”
Nadine said she was amazed with Tami’s work ethic. She continued to attend classes, even after going through a back surgery and was even able to convince the mayor to come speak to the class.
“Tami is the ‘mother’ of the class. She looks out for a lot of the other students,” she said. “She has been a phenomenal student. She helped anyone that needed help, not just in the classroom but with personal issues as well. She’s someone that’s good to know. She’s a get it done person. If you want it done, she’ll get it done.”
‘YOU’RE NEVER TO OLD TO LEARN‘
Tami graduated in March of 2022 and was hired at Margate Chiropractic Health Center. She said this environment fits her perfectly because she loves providing care that does not require medication.
If she were to give advice to anyone else considering a career change, it would be to go for it.
“You never know until you try,” she said. “Listen to the instructors. Follow your dreams. If I hadn’t followed my dreams, I would still be burnt out doing jobs that were always temporary. Now I can see patients every single day and I can make a difference every single day. That’s what I like. If you’ve got the ambition and you’ve got the mindset, the sky is the limit.”