YUKON – Nearly two years ago, Elaine Simpson’s mailbox provided hope and comfort where misfortune resided.
The optimism did not originate from a prize patrol sweepstakes but in a booklet showcasing classes for adults.
Simpson, 31, of Mustang, said she needed a decent job to make ends meet after having recently given birth to her second child. She completed some college health courses, but she was not eager to work 12-hour shifts in traditional direct patient care.
She read a course description in Canadian Valley Technology Center’s adult and continuing education brochure highlighting the “business side” of the health care industry. Her intrigue blossomed as she dug deeper.
“I came across medical coding,” she said. “It sounded perfect. I figured there was a lot I could learn and still be a stay-at-home mom.”
There were immediate openings in CV Tech’s daytime Medical Coding Specialist program at the Cowan Campus in Yukon. She attended class full-time, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
In 13 months, Simpson completed the course and passed the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam, which is administered through that American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC). The association is the largest organization of coders nationwide.
Simpson earned a CPC-A credential, which means she was recognized as an apprentice. After working in the field for nearly two years, she applied for removal of the “A,” and is now a fully credentialed CPC.
“My last day on October 30th (2016), I got a call for my first job,” Simpson said. “I started working the very next week.”
After five months working as a medical coder for a medical equipment provider, she found a related job with better pay at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. Each year, the clinic serves nearly 20,000 people representing more than 200 tribes.
“I’m on the Chickasaw Nation (tribal registry) roll, so I believe this is the right place for me at this time,” she said. “Everything I learned at Canadian Valley as far as coding and medical terminology and the anatomy and physiology, I am putting to use.”
THE NEXT CHAPTER
Simpson said her new career has inspired her to continue dreaming and upgrading her skills.
“I enrolled in college yesterday,” she said. “When I went before, I wasn’t really serious about it. I have a lot of goals in mind.”
She has chosen pre-med as her major and plans to become a medical doctor.
“I love the fact that I’m getting to know the business side of how all of this works, because my dream is to open up my own practice one day,” Simpson said. “I feel like this will all play a role in helping me make my dreams come true.”
CV Tech’s Medical Coding Specialist instructor, Christi Walker, said Simpson is a classic example of a person who commits herself to reach a goal.
“During her time in the program, I could see Elaine develop her study skills and abilities to meet challenges she encountered in her courses,” Walker said. “When difficult times came, she did not give up and kept her focus on the desired goals of earning her diploma and gaining national coding certification.
“Her focus and determination allowed her to achieve both of those goals.”
CODING CAREER EXPLAINED
Medical coding education provides entry-level general administrative medical office skills through the more challenging medical insurance and coding skills.
Walker said successful insurance and coding skills are the key to the continued success of the medical practice as these avenues provide the cash flow for the business to continue.
Upon program completion, graduates may work in a doctor’s office, a clinic, a hospital, an insurance company, a home-health agency and more. They can also work on the insurance company side of it processing the claims submitted. Skills obtained include patient registration, medical records, charge and payment posting, medical claim creation and submission, medical record abstracting and code selection.
The job outlook for careers in the field is above average at an anticipated labor growth of 13 percent between now and 2026, according to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A recent AAPC salary survey showed that coders with CPC credentials earned an average wage nationally of nearly $53,000. Those with two or more credentials in the field earned substantially more per year on average.
For those with questions about CV Tech’s Medical Coding Specialist program, call 345-3333.