My Career Step: Evelynn McCulloch-Owens

Coding and BillingCareer AdviceStudent ReviewsNo Comments

Evelyn McCulloch-OwensAt 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.


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  1. Shakila July 16, 2015

    Hi Evelynn,

    I just finished reading your story, and I am looking into Medical billing and coding. I hope to start with Career step in August of this year. Can you give me some tips on passing the CPC exam, for instance what areas to really focus on. Thanks in advance.

  2. Debra July 16, 2015

    Evelynn, congratulations on your success. I have been thinking about doing the coding program but I am very nervous on if I will get a job.  Seems like everyone wants experience.  I also want to work at home and I am concerned that I will not be able to get this type of opportunity. Can you shed some light on my fear.  Thank you for your time, Debra

  3. Evelynn July 24, 2015

    Shakila, I suggest getting a CPC study guide prior to taking the exam. It’s a tough exam and the time is your biggest enemy. I finished with 30 mins left but there are some taking the test that I know did not get to answer all the questions. The Career Step course along with the CPC study guide helped me be confident and I passed on my first try.

    Debra, there are more and more work from home opportunities and there are some companies willing to give coders with no experience a chance. I suspect this will continue to be the case once ICD 10 has started. Indeed.com is your best friend when it comes to finding remote opportunities. Linkedin is also good and if you can join a local AAPC group, they often mention job openings.

  4. Carol July 31, 2015

    Congratulations Evelynn on sticking to
    your plan and reaching your career goal.Your story gives me hope !

  5. shakeida January 04, 2016

    Hello Evelynn,

    I have read your review and it has really inspired me to start the program. Reading all the reviews good and bad. Does this class take more than 4 months to finish. I seen a few say that they would not recommend this online class.

  6. Career Step January 05, 2016

    Hi Shakeida,

    Hopefully Evelynn gets the chance to respond to you. But our classes are designed to be completed in 4 months of full-time study. However, you will have access to the course for 12 months in case you need more time or must work at a slower pace.

    Best wishes!

  7. Anita Daly January 19, 2016

    I have been wanting to take the medical coding and billing course but am worried I will not find employment. I am also concerned about remembering all the information needed to do the job. Snita

  8. Career Step January 19, 2016

    Hi Anita,

    Included with the cost of tuition is access to our Graduate Support, where we have many different resources to help you turn your education into a job. You can learn more about those resources here:

    http://www.careerstep.com/medical-coding-graduate-resources

    If you’re interested in learning more about the curriculum, you can contact an Academic Advisor at 1-800-411-7073 who will be more than happy to answer your questions.

    Best wishes!


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