Medical Assistant Program Chair Lisa Smith takes pride in directing her students at Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud (MSB) in a practical, straight-forward manner toward their future careers. In fact, many of them would describe her as “no-nonsense.”
“My goal is to help students become fluent in their skills and adaptable to different situations,” Smith says. “That’s the reality of the medical field.”
Smith has had a lot of experience in that regard herself. Prior to her position at MSB, she worked in a supervisory role at two urgent care clinics where quick-thinking and problem-solving were necessary skills. It is this type of hands-on learning she emphasizes in her classes.
Smith knows that learning to multitask competently, and without thinking about it, can be stressful for students. But she also knows it is a major key in helping students gain confidence in themselves, a second important goal in her teaching.
“Seeing students struggle, whether for personal reasons or in the classroom, is a big challenge for me,” she admits. “But the rewards of teaching are to see those same students complete the program, become certified and then placed in a job in their career path.”
Smith’s third goal in teaching is to assist students to grow in their community. “I think it is very important for them to reach out to others without the expectation of something in return. It enhances the well-being of both the giver and receiver.”
Smith follows her own advice as an example. In her personal life, she volunteered for eight years for a woman suffering with multiple sclerosis, giving her injections and assisting with jobs around the house and yard. Currently she gives free horse riding lessons and serves as a mentor to a local boy. At MSB, she leads students in community engagement projects (both on and off campus) such as the Polar Plunge, the MESSAGE Program, Women’s Health Fair 101 at Centra Care Health Systems, the Electrolux Health Fair, and MSB Spring into Health Fair. In addition, she is active as a presenter to area junior and senior high school students who are interested in the medical field as a potential career. Among her popular topics: “Grossology 101.”
Outside of school, Smith indulges her passion for animals by competing in cow sorting (a timed event where teams of two riders separate cows into pens against the clock) and rodeo ranch riding.
Explaining her active pastime, Smith says, “I grew up in Little House on the Prairie. We heated with wood, which meant cutting wood and curing it for two years. Summers were for fieldwork and baling hay. I milked cows at 4 a.m. before school.”
“But my mom had me show in Western Pleasure,” (a competition at a slow gait, emphasizing manners) she adds, “which means to be girly, prim and proper. When she wasn’t looking, I would teach the horse to rear and buck on command because I was bored. The more I did it, the more I wanted to compete.”
Smith admits that part of the pull of competition for her is the sense of power and pleasure it gives.
“I’ve always felt a bit of the underdog,” she reflects. “Winning the jackpot with a $600 horse against one that cost $40,000 is a kick.”
Animals also take away the stress and anxiety that comes with daily life, she feels.
Whether leading students or in the ring, Smith is all in.