Medical Coding, Administrative Medical Office Specialists Highly Sought

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Hailey Lugo very much enjoyed her time as a stay-at-home mother while raising two children.

As the children grew, she longed to re-enter the workforce but preferred to do so from home. A friend recommended she consider a career as a medical coder, and she quickly identified Canadian Valley Technology Center as an educational provider that was not only affordable but close to home.

The school’s Cowan Campus is conveniently located just south of Yukon, minutes from her Mustang home. Lugo, 32, enrolled as a full-time student. Coursework required lots of reading, she said, though CV Tech instructor Christi Walker was available to offer assistance at all times. Walker is a certified coder and adds real-world experience and beneficial group projects.

“Working 9 to 5 did not fit with two small kids in the house,” Lugo said. “The fact that I could work as fast or as slow as I needed to really appealed to me. I often read material at night and on weekends at ballgames. I am kind of a book nerd.”

She completed coursework in eight months and passed the national licensure exam, which is now the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS). A CCS-P (physician) exam may also be taken. Curriculum includes an exam prep course.

Shortly thereafter, Lugo received a job offer to work within the St. Anthony Health network as a medical coder. She was required to work on-site for three months but was permitted to work at home afterward. Lugo has since switched to INTEGRIS Health and still works from home.

Most certified coders work in physician offices, clinics, hospitals, insurance companies or home-health agencies. Medical coding education provides entry-level administrative medical office skills, such as patient registration, medical records, charge and payment posting, medical claim creation and submission, medical record abstracting and code selection.

“A coder is important to provide the best level of care and value for patients,” Lugo said. “Coders must ethically represent what happened to a patient during treatment.”

Employment is expected to grow at a strong rate of 11% through 2028, easily outpacing the average for all occupations, according to information supplied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Median pay (half earn more and half less) is $40,350.

An Added Option

This program also prepares students for licensure as an Administrative Medical Office Specialist. Arnisha Reeves, 39, of Oklahoma City, recently completed the class and now works for an area dentist.

“I always wanted to do something medical,” she said. “Years ago I took a medical assisting course. I knew that I did not want to be a nurse.”

Reeves also preferred receiving an education close to home, and she said she appreciated the shorter class length. Most can complete in eight months. Her duties include patient check-in, processing paperwork and filing. Reeves said she enjoys the work and would only consider a change if she could become an office manager. Median pay is $33,610, according to the BLS, which also predicts a much-faster-than-average, 23-percent growth in the field.

Administrative Medical Office Specialists also schedule appointments, process patient payments and provide general clerical assistance to physicians. Knowledge and skills prepare graduates for work in a medical office setting, and instruction also includes daily operations, medical records, medical billing and financial and practice management.

Enrollment begins each month for both Medical Coding Specialist and Administrative Medical Office Specialist. Students may choose either part-time or full-time status, with classes running from 8:25 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. Financial aid is available, and high school graduates under age 24 – who live in the district – are eligible for the no-tuition Next Step Scholarship. For more information, call (405) 345-3333.


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