Graduate Spotlight: Lourdes Paez
CHOOSING MEDICAL CODING AND BILLING
I have been a stay at home mom since 2009. Prior to that, I worked in the medical field in the Philippines, where I lived and grew up. I immigrated to the United States in 2009. At the time, my kids were young and I wanted focus on raising them. By 2013, both of my kids were in school, which meant I had more time for myself and I felt that I was ready to go back to work. Medical coding and billing seemed like a good choice for me because I would be returning to the medical field and it was a career that had lots of room for growth with the opportunity to work remotely.
STUDYING WITH CAREER STEP
My friend took a Medical Transcription course through Career Step, which is how I first learned about the school. I did my own research and read good reviews. I liked that it was online, that I could study at my own pace, and that the tuition was also affordable with reasonable payment plans.
In February 2014, I took the plunge and enrolled in the ICD-10 Medical Coding course. With a medical background, I thought the course would be easy for me, and I breezed through the medical terminology, anatomy, and pathophysiology courses. I took a break from the course for the 3 months during my kids’ summer break. When they went back to school in August, I resumed studying too. Once I got past the initial sections that were easy for me, the course was pretty intense. The practicum was quite challenging, especially the inpatient coding.
Throughout my Career Step education, I tried to make use of the online forums and chats. I also emailed instructors frequently whenever I had a question. They were very helpful, always immediately got back to me, and were very patient in answering my questions. The forums also helped me stay on track, especially when graduates posted success stories. Their experiences inspired me to set goals for myself, knowing that one day I would also be sharing my own success story.
I took another break toward the end of my course to visit my family in the Philippines. Once I got back I took the ICD-9 for ICD-10 Coders course, which Career Step offered for free with my program, and I was able to finish it in 2 weeks. I graduated in May 2015 with honors!
GETTING CERTIFIED AND FINDING A JOB
I started reviewing for the CPC in August 2015 and passed it on my first try in October 2015. As I started working on my resume, Career Step’s Graduate Support was very helpful. Micah Richards edited my resume and made it look amazing, and I honestly believe it helped me in getting a lot of job interviews.
I posted my resume on different websites like Indeed.com, Career Builder, and Glassdoor. I was very particular with what I wanted in a job, I did not want to work very far from home because working was not worth it if I had to travel long hours as I would have to put my kids in after-school care. My goal was to work from home, but I knew in my heart I was not ready yet. I really felt I first needed on-site job experience first.
After 1 job interview I thought I got the job only to be told they wanted someone with experience - I was so disappointed. A friend gave me some great advice though. She said that maybe that job was just not the one for me and that when I found the right job I would be surprised at how it was just the perfect fit! Because of her advice, I did not let this setback discourage me, and I kept applying for jobs.
In November I saw a job posting that seemed ideal for my credentials. I submitted my application, was interviewed, was offered the job, and started working as a CDI trainee in January 2016! The office is only about 8 miles away from my home, and the hours are very flexible. I am now reviewing for the CCS and plan to take it in April or May.
Looking back, I can say Career Step prepared me well and equipped me with the necessary skills to be an efficient and professional medical coder. I am enjoying my new job, and I am thankful to Career Step for helping me in my journey to a new career!