This 60-Year-Old CNM Grad Has Dedicated Himself to Helping Cancer Patients

Gregory Zoll graduated from the Medical Assistant program and now works at UNM’s Comprehensive Cancer Center
August 10, 2023

Gregory Zoll has relied a lot on quality healthcare providers to help him cope with a disability and get through a serious injury.

His appreciation for these providers is what recently motivated him to go for a Medical Assistant certificate from CNM when New Mexico’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation offered to help connect him with the program.

“I’ve wanted to get into the medical field for years. At the tender age of 60, I still can’t believe I’m wearing scrubs and working with patients,” Gregory says.

During the program, CNM allowed Gregory to build a flexible schedule where he could work part time and attend classes at his own pace.

“Everybody works differently. A lot of programs try to make you hurry. But my advice is to learn how to do the job first. Speed will come with time,” he says.

Medical Assistants are trained to be multi-skilled and help with everything from medical office organization to patient care. While certain courses were offered online, Gregory preferred working side-by-side with the instructors and other students in the classroom. Study groups, combined with good note-taking, helped Gregory through his science-based classes while working with lab partners helped him develop a good bedside manner.

“We had to practice taking our lab partner’s vitals and drawing blood. You have to build trust,” he says.

Since graduating last December, he and his lab partner have both found employment at UNM Hospital. Gregory works at the Comprehensive Cancer Center and his lab partner at a UNM family practice clinic. Gregory spends his work day checking patients in for their appointments, taking their vitals, and updating their charts before they meet with their doctor. On a busy day, he may interact with more than 30 patients in their high-volume clinic.

“I had a friend ask me if it was hard for me to be around cancer all day, but for me, it’s just about caring for people. You’re there for them. I am amazed by how much courage these patients have,” he says.

Gregory enjoys working with patients while learning about cancer medications and innovations in the field from the team of nurses and doctors he collaborates with daily. And while he thinks one day he might work his way up to assisting with infusions or helping doctors with medical procedures, he’s happy for now in his current role.

“Even on challenging days at my job, I like that the environment is very supportive. Everyone always tries to help each other out, and that means a lot,” he says.