My Career Step: Evelynn McCulloch-Owens
At the end of 2013, I decided I wanted and needed a career change as I had been working as a dispatcher for almost 10 years and had no room for advancement. I wanted a career in the medical field and to have opportunities for growth, but I wasn’t exactly sure what area I wanted to go into.
I began by making a list of career options that included jobs as a radiology technician, medical assistant, and phlebotomist, but I soon came to the realization that I preferred a desk job. I began exploring a career in medical coding and billing and as I learned more about the field, I knew it was the right choice for me! I then spent several months researching local and online programs that offered a flexible and affordable course. I decided on Career Step because it was accredited by AHIMA, flexible and affordable, and I was impressed by the graduate success stories on their website.
My Career Step Education
I started the ICD-10 coding program on April 9, 2014. I had set a goal for myself to finish in 7 months. I knew it would be hard work as I was working 30 hours a week and caring for my 3-year-old daughter. Studying was often difficult between taking care of my daughter and working, but I set a pretty strict schedule for myself and used the program tracker religiously to make sure I stayed on track.
Throughout the program I used the online forum daily, participated in coding chatrooms, and emailed instructors whenever I had any questions—the help I received from all of these sources helped me stay motivated! I would study between 4-6 hours a day during the weekdays and sometimes a few hours on the weekend. Some modules were harder than others to get through and others, like medical terminology, came easy to me and didn’t take much time to get through. I loved how the modules were set up and the overall look and feel of the program. I finished the program within my 7-month goal on my birthday, November 5, and graduated with honors. I immediately started the ICD-9 for ICD-10 Coders program and finished that within 2 weeks.
My advice to anyone in the coding program would be to make yourself a schedule and stick to it, use all the tools available to you, and keep on going—the hard work is so worth it!
Getting Certified and Starting a New Career
While I was preparing to take the CPC exam, I contacted graduate support to get help with my resume. Micah was so helpful and made my resume look amazing! On December 27, 2014 I took the CPC exam and on January 2, 2015 I found out I passed! The next day I applied for a 2-week HCC remote coding contract and even though it said that 6 months experience was required, I got the job! It ended up being a 6-week contract, so it was nice to get some experience, and now they have asked me to come back in the fall during the next HCC coding season. I also used indeed.com to post and apply for positions and got many phone calls for coding positions.
During the beginning of January, I also applied for IOD Incorporated’s March 2015 CDP program and found out in February that I got accepted. I began the 13-week coder development program on March 2 2015—it was very difficult, but I got to learn so much. I made it through the training and graduated from the CDP program June 1, 2015, and I am now employed with IOD and will begin coding for a hospital in New Jersey this week. I am also studying to take the CCS exam in the next few months.
Career Step has prepared me not only to get certified as a professional medical coder but has also given me the knowledge, skills, and confidence to begin my new career.