Graduate Spotlight: Ken Sloan

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Ken Sloan
Deciding on a Career in Medical Coding and Billing
I started looking at the medical coding field for several reasons. I have a few health problems that severely limit the kinds of jobs I can do, so I brainstormed in-demand occupations that paid well and interested me. Medical coding made the list because I’ve always been fascinated by all things medical, I have a photographic memory (my brain is a sponge), and I also already had experience working in the laboratory side of the industry.

A career (not just a job) in medical coding would allow me the flexibility to work anywhere and also offered many opportunities for advancement. However, the most appealing aspect of this career was that I could help with the quality of patient care.  I could help ensure the right patient got the right medication or treatment, the right diagnosis was assigned, and potential adverse reactions were avoided. Playing a role in the quality of patient care was a very appealing and potentially rewarding side of choosing this career. Through my research, I knew a career in medical coding was a perfect fit for me and was exactly what I was looking for.
Choosing Career Step and Working through the Program
I was aware of Career Step before I started researching medical coding, and I knew they were highly respected in the medical transcription industry. One of my family members took a course in medical transcription, which was very thorough and intense. I thought that if their coding program was anything like their transcription program, I’d be beyond prepared to get my foot in the door as a beginning coder.

After researching and reading online forums, my opinion about Career Step were reinforced. I ultimately made my decision when I learned I could work through the course at my own pace and that Career Step’s program is approved and recognized by AHIMA and AAPC.

When I decided to start the Medical Coding and Billing training program, I had just been laid off so the timing was perfect. I took advantage of my savings, unemployment, and a well-planned budget so I could focus 100% on the program. I approached the course as if it was a job and devoted 8 hours a day to studying and took the weekends off. Overall, that schedule worked great, but there were some days I only studied 2-3 hours where other days I would study for 10 hours—it just depended on when my brain started to turn to mush from information overload.

Even though I was treating it like a job, I still had more than enough time to enjoy life with hobbies, friends, and family. That’s the beauty of working at your own pace in this program. Do a chapter, go run errands, do a few pages, take care of some things around the house, do a chapter, go have dinner with friends or family. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of looking over flash cards, every little bit of time put in helped me progress through the course.

One aspect of studying with Career Step that was especially helpful were the online forums. I picked up many tips, had a lot of questions answered from people who had previously asked the same question, and felt a lot of relief when I saw others were struggling where I was. The instructors also provided great feedback and were excellent at explaining the “why” behind their answers.

Starting a New Career

From start to finish, it took me just about 6 months to complete the course. I began my job search by submitting my resume all over the place—I got a lot of interest and interviews, which felt promising.

I eventually began working with a medical staffing agency. Initially, I didn’t meet their requirements because I didn’t have the years of experience they were looking for, but I wanted to work for this provider, so I took a chance! When I interviewed on the phone, I impressed the interviewer so much she didn’t believe I was a new coder because of the way I spoke and the questions I asked. When I had my in-person interview, I dressed in a suit, was well-spoken and asked good questions—and as a result I blew away my 4 interviewers. I had to take a coding assessment, passed it, and got bonus points for pointing out some errors on the test. I was hired!

A month after starting my job, I was doing so well with E/M coding that they offered me a position coding pathology. They really needed someone who was proficient in pathology, and in the Career Step program I breezed through pathology and loved it. I’m now a full-time pathology coder for Oregon Health and Science University.

I worked hard, kept my nose to the grindstone, didn’t let their requirements stop me, and took a chance that paid off—and studying with Career Step paid off! I can honestly say I have never had a better, more fulfilling job with more amazing co-workers and an even more amazing boss than with this opportunity working for such an exceptional institution.

Through the intensity and thorough nature of the Career Step program I was more than prepared to set foot in the coding industry. I wholeheartedly, without a second thought, would definitely recommend Career Step to anyone. They more than prepare you for the industry through a program that familiarizes you with the information presented and prepares you to quickly and accurately find answers to questions. Working at your own pace allows you to still have a life while bettering yourself, preparing for your future, and helping you excel in the industry.  Career Step isn’t a training program as much as it is an investment in yourself and your future.

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  1. Susan Roscoe April 26, 2016

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I was worried about not having years of experience when it comes time to look for a job. I am currently a full time Paramedic in SC. I love my job very much and helping people is my passion. But after 14 years in this business, my body is starting to fail me. I’m 56 yrs old and this work is strenuous on me physically. I needed a “plan B” and I decided on medical billing and coding.  I started the program with Career Step in January and it’s going very well.  Your words give me hope that I will succeed in this new chapter in my life.  Thank you very much.

    Hi Susan-

    Thank you for comment! Good luck in your Medical Coding and Billing course and we commend you for your willingness to pursue new goals!

    Best wishes!

  2. Malinda Walker May 03, 2016

    Ken thank you for sharing your story. I to like Susan had fear about finding a job after graduation. However after reading your story and doing research today My fears are put to rest.  Employers need certified coders that are able to hit the ground running.  I really do feel like this is the type of training I am receiving threw Career Steps.  Thanks again Malinda

    Hi Malinda,
    We will pass your comment to Ken! Good luck with your course!

    Best wishes

  3. nicole May 18, 2016

    Thanks for sharing your story Ken! I have researched different careers as well. Looking for something I enjoyed while helping others and coding and billing kept coming in first place! I have worked in the hospital before also but in admissions some years ago. I was weighing my options on taking a coding class and hoping I would not waste time and money and not be able to find a job due to a lack of experience just coming out of school. With working in pathology, would that also open another career opportunity Certied Tumor Registrar? Is that also tied to medical billing and coding?  If a career step representative could answer those questions that would be great!

    Hi Nicole,
    Thanks for your comments!

    The Career Step courses are designed to help you gain all of the skills you need to succeed in the workforce, and after graduation you’ll also have access to a number of resources designed to help you turn your education into a job.

    Resume and cover letter review – Our experienced Graduate Advisors will work with you one-on-one to make sure your resume and cover letter are up to date and as polished as possible before you start your job search.

    Personalized interview tutorials – We know it’s almost impossible to get hired without a good interview, so you’ll also have access to personalized job interview tutorials to help you develop the skills you need to nail the interview and get hired.

    New job opening notifications – Career Step works hard to build relationships with employers nationwide, and many will let us know when they have entry-level positions available. We’ll let you know when companies matching your preferences are hiring so you can be sure to get your application in.

    Career Step Help Hotline – When you’re the new kid at a new job, asking for help can be intimidating. As a Career Step graduate, you’ll have access to the Career Step Help Hotline after graduation in case you need a little help or advice as you’re building your career.

    All of these resources are provided with the end goal of helping you turn your education into a job. With this individualized help and attention, the majority of our graduates are hired within a few months of graduation.

    To answer your question about a certified tumor registrar tying in with medical coding and billing, they are actually separate careers and don’t overlap.

    Best wishes!

  4. Roxanne November 17, 2016

    I would like information on billing and coding. Price?How long does it take to complete

  5. Career Step November 21, 2016

    Hi Roxanne,
    Thanks so much for your interest in our medical coding and billing course.

    With Career Step Medical Billing training you can develop the expertise you need to excel in your new field for only $2,995.

    The Medical Billing training program includes 180 hours of curriculum and is designed to be completed in 3 months of full-time study. However, the online format allows you to study on your own schedule and at your own pace, so your enrollment includes 6 months of program access in case you need extra time.

    Take a look at this link for more information on the course:

    In addition, our academic advisors are available to answer questions and help you register for the course when you are ready. Feel free to reach out to them at 1-800-411-7073 or at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    Best wishes!



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