Succeeding through Adversity

March 17, 2021 Posted in: Patients & Providers

Life changed her plans, but April Clayton still finds success in health care.

Coming from a family of caregivers, April Clayton, certified medical assistant (CMA) at CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care, Berea, says she has always been drawn to the medical field.

Becoming a surgeon was her top choice at first, but having started her own family at a young age, she decided to earn her associate degree and become a CMA. That was 15 years ago.

A Family of Caregivers

Clayton said her mother worked for the American Cancer Society, and that really made an impression on her to give back.

“I want to help people,” Clayton said. “I want to help people feel better.”

As a CMA, Clayton said her role is similar to that of a nurse in a family practice clinic. She fills medication orders, gives injections, takes vitals and develops a relationship with each patient.

“We engage with patients and make them feel comfortable,” Clayton said. “I love getting to know patients and their families.”

The desire to help people continues across generations in April’s family. Her daughter Dayzaughn, an activist and graduate student at Eastern Kentucky University, is following in her mother’s footsteps in the medical field, working to become a doula.

Eye-Opening Experiences

As a woman of color working in a rural environment at the Berea primary care clinic, Clayton has become increasingly more aware of the unique challenge she faces, especially after a year of protests surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.

“There’s not a lot of [racial] diversity among the patients, and there’s not a lot of diversity in the people they see taking care of them,” Clayton said. That lack of diversity has created challenges for her, as some patients want a different CMA. “That’s been the biggest challenge.”

She recounts the names that have spurred a movement, and notes how they have impacted her.

“Breonna Taylor was two years older than my daughter; I have a stepson that is Trayvon Martin’s age right now; and George Floyd could have been my dad,” Clayton said. “I think people don’t see themselves in the injustice — they see the reaction. Rioting is never the answer, but I understand the rage.”

In her free time, Clayton is an avid reader. She also spends time with her husband, three children and 3-year-old granddaughter.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2021 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.

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