Kimberly King, CMA (AAMA), has vivid childhood memories of playing with a toy doctor’s kit. “I always wanted to be in health care since I was probably 6 years old,” she says.

However, her path to the medical field took some unexpected turns. After high school, King joined the United States Coast Guard as a search and rescue crew member. Four years in, she fell and broke her neck while performing a rescue. “My ambition was to go to medical school and become a pediatrician. When I got hurt, I missed my spot to get in because of the rehab,” King says.

After her recovery, she transitioned into the Air Force as a flight crew member of the Air Force Medical Service Corps. “I did that for nine years and really got my feet wet in medicine,” says King. She also met her husband during her service.

When she left the military, she planned to attend nursing school, but her discharge date was past the program’s acceptance and start date. While meeting with an advisor at Carteret Community College in Morehead City, North Carolina, King learned about the school’s medical assisting program and CMA (AAMA) certification, both of which she found to be a perfect fit for her. She graduated with honors in 1990 and soon after obtained certification.

King’s first job as a medical assistant was in a family practice office. “When we moved to Kansas, I worked for a big hospital system as a clinical supervisor with about 10 medical assistants working underneath me. I did that for seven and a half years and have been in a supervisory role since,” she says.

When her husband was transferred to Georgia, King began working part time for St. Mary’s Family Practice—her current employer—where she is the primary medical assistant for one of the physicians. Caring for veterans in the community is King’s favorite part of the job.

“Being a veteran, I have always felt that I wanted to give back,” she says. “My husband retired in 2015 from the Army after 30 years of service. He’s a combat-disabled veteran, and he has a traumatic brain injury from being in Iraq. I have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be a caregiver, and I know the importance of proper health care for veterans.”

King also volunteers at various organizations, including Wounded Warrior Project, Step Up for Vets, the Warrior Initiative, and more. She also focuses on helping female veterans with children. “The government doesn’t have the facilities to support homeless female veterans in shelters with children,” King says.

She also helps homeless veterans access transitional supportive services for health care and screenings. “My medical assisting skills have allowed me to do that, especially when I’m volunteering with clinics where we [assist with] medical assessments or where we bring in homeless veterans and give them a free day of screening,” King says.

The drive to help veterans has pushed King to continue her education. In 2016, she received a master’s degree in public health, and she is currently working toward becoming a nurse practitioner.

“My goal is to work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and help those who suffer from traumatic brain injuries and PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder],” she says. “Medical assisting is the reason I’m able to move forward. Working in this field has been my solid foundation. It gave me opportunities, knowledge, and skills that I will always carry with me.”