My Summer Education
My summer reading is neither light, nor conducive to dragging along to a sandy environment. Here are the titles on my summer reading list: Quick and Easy Medical Terminology (429 pages); Medical Insurance – An Integrated Claims Process Approach (700+ pages); 2011 CPT – Professional Edition (794 pages); 2011 Step-By-Step Medical Coding (1058 pages); and the mother of all medical coding textbooks, ICD – 9 for Hospitals Volumes 1, 2 and 3 (so many pages they forgot to number them all)! Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
If these sound like reference books or, more appropriately, college textbooks, it’s because they are college textbooks. Yes, it’s true, I’m back in school! This time, it’s not for a full degree, but for a job designation that might affect my potential earnings within the next few years. Fortunately I gave up going to the beach sometime during the last century, so I won’t know the pleasure or misery of dragging those mothers to such far-flung destinations like the Jersey Shore.
The subject is medical coding, an established career opportunity that enables medical practices and hospitals to bill for their services that is both correct and financially advantageous to their bottom lines. Naturally, the main payer for these services is the health insurance industry, who has worked hand-in-hand with the medical community over the years to create these standards of medical service. Their efforts have created a whole subsection of medical billing - another pillar in the health care financial kingdom - one that is predicted to grow within a few years due to the health care reform laws passed and signed last year.
During an early session of my coding class, we were all asked to introduce ourselves and briefly explain why we were taking this class. The reasons varied from person to person, but at least one theme could be found in everyone’s explanation. The knowledge we gained here could help improve our financial health.
Or as one smart aleck class member eloquently put it, “On the advice of my former employer, I decided to change my career.” Okay, I’ll admit it: I was the smart aleck! I was not too surprised to find there were at least four others in my same situation.
My classmates are a wide assortment of ages and types. There are a few college age adults who are giving up weekends on the beach for the promise of a new career on the horizon. There are a few single mothers hoping to land a better job in the near future.
Most of the rest of us are middle-aged folk who, for one reason or another, want to or have to do something else with their lives. Several are still working in medical offices and crave something different for their careers. A handful of us are disillusioned refugees of the recession either from the health care or the health care insurance field. And yes, as a matter of fact, we’re also giving up our weekends temporarily to improve our lot in our lives.
When I was going for my master’s degree — also in the last century — I attended classes side-by-side with adults who had long passed their bachelor degree years. They ranged from their 30s through middle-age with established careers. Sometimes I wondered why they should want for more.
I never imagined that I might be back in school when I reached their age. Yet, here I am in the same position. Like me, they were either unemployed or underemployed and found what had been state of the art training ten years before was now woefully obsolete for the demands of the current economy.
Sometimes karma is a bitch!
So between the new job and the weekend coding class, I’ll be busy, busy, busy until well into the fall. A month or so after that, there will be a test for all of us to become certified. Perhaps by that time the economy will have finally improved to the point that all of us will find our newly acquired knowledge in demand and highly desirable to prospective employers. Now that sounds like fun.
(Thank you for reading. Please remember it’s never too late to learn more.)