Not all healthcare professions involve direct patient care. There are jobs available right now in which workers never step foot inside a treatment room. No needles. No blood.
Latoya Stiles said that is part of what attracted her to Canadian Valley Technology Center’s Medical Coding Specialist/Patient Account Representative program. A friend recommended it to her.
Students may choose between either of these two similar career paths within the healthcare industry.
Stiles, 40, of Oklahoma City, chose to focus on Medical Coding Specialist. She said the program was also attractive because of the hope for normal office hours. No late nights or overnight shifts. She completed the program last May and was hired at Surgical Partners of Oklahoma in Yukon.
“My duties include answering phones, check-in and assisting outpatients with billing,” Stiles said.
Students also learn medical anatomy and terminology, administrative medical assisting, coding for inpatients and outpatients and medical insurance.
Instructor Christi Walker said the program is geared toward helping students pass the post-secondary Certified Professional Coder exam, which is a requirement of employment in the field.
“This is a career, not a job,” Walker said. “Career growth is available within the industry.”
Patient Account Representative, then, advises students on the proper way to greet patients at reception and with scheduling appointments as patients exit. Students also learn about computers for medical office, administrative medical assisting, medical insurance and electronic health records.
Many students prefer a shorter educational timeframe. Patient Account Representative is just 624 hours in length, while Medical Coding Specialist is 1,000 hours. Most of CV Tech’s other full-time programs are 1,050 hours.
Median pay (half earn more and half less) for the similar careers is $22.43 per hour, according to information supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Starting pay is less, though Walker said even with a little experience, a wage of $18 to $20 per hour is achievable. BLS growth projections for the occupation are at 7 percent, which is as fast as most.
All coursework is done at CV Tech’s Cowan Campus, located two miles south of Yukon. Adults have the option to enroll part-time (three hours each day) or full-time (six hours per day).
Stiles, a single mother of two, said she hopes her long-range career plans include medical coding for cancer research. She said CV Tech’s program “completely” prepared her for the workplace.
“I would absolutely recommend it to others,” she said. “I had such a great experience. It was affordable, and it prepared me for my job. Also, I had an amazing teacher who went above and beyond to help me succeed.”
CV Tech students under age 24 qualify for free tuition using the Next Step Scholarship if they live in the school district and have a diploma or equivalent. Books and fees are extra. Otherwise, in-district tuition for adults is $2 per hour, plus 15 cents per hour in fees. Out-of-district tuition is $5 per hour, plus 15 cents per hour in fees. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.
Other health-related programs at the Cowan Campus include Biomedical Sciences, Health Careers and Surgical Technology. Plus, enrollment is underway for a new Eye Care Technician program that opens in January. For more information, visit cvtech.edu or call a career counselor at (405) 345-3333.