Woman who lost hands earns medical assistant degree

Woman who lost hands earns medical assistant degree


by KGW Video Producer


Posted on March 3, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 3 at 5:57 PM

PORTLAND -- A Portland woman who is a quadruple amputee loves to do what others think is impossible. Her latest accomplishment: graduating from a local medical program.

Kiera Brinkley, 20, graduated from a medical assistant program in Northeast Portland. It’s a job that normally requires the dexterity of fingers and hands but Brinkley didn’t let that stop her.

“I like to prove people wrong," Brinkley said with a smile."Sometimes I choose the careers that people don’t think I can do and then I do it!”

Brinkley is also a performer and choreographer for a local dance troop.

For the past nine months she attended a Concorde Career program learning the basics of medical treatment.

She learned to give a patient an EKG, enter medical records in the computer, give injections and even draw blood.

“I don’t want patients to feel the pain I have felt during so many treatments,” explained Brinkley.

A bacterial infection took her limbs at the age of two and she’s been over achieving ever since.

“She always had that attitude to keep going and she pushed all of us right along with her," said Brinkley's 13-year-old sibling Alana Graves. "I look at her and think, wow she’s my sister.”

Kiera has prosthetics, but feels more productive without them.

Her penmanship is better than most doctors.

“She has perfect attendance and to me that’s harder to achieve that earning an A or a B,” said Stephanie Suddendorf, the medical assistant program director at Concorde.

For those who doubt her, Kiera explains that what’s left of her arms is an asset.

“My nerve endings are hypersensitive and that helps me maneuver during something like a blood draw,” she said. Modifying the sterile gloves was her biggest obstacle and she knows there will be others,“It does make me nervous thinking about whether people will accept me.”

After working with her, some see her charm as an asset too.

“If I were a patient and she came to the waiting room to get me, her smile would instantly make me feel better,” said her instructor.

“I really just need a chance", added Kiera. "Once I get that, I can show people I have the skills to be a medical assistant."