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Lauren LyerlaWhen I decided to make the move from part-time medical transcription to full-time medical coding, choosing a school was a no-brainer. I had done my medical transcription training through Career Step in 2010-2011, so I already knew it was a quality school and that I could be successful with Career Step’s self-paced distance learning approach. 

As my son entered his teen years, we found that our family no longer needed the flexibility that a work-from-home, part-time transcription job provided—what we were going to need instead was a college fund. Medical coding seemed like the logical next step for my career, and the timing seemed good as well because of the industry’s planned move from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding, which is adding lots of projected growth opportunities for coders.  I would train in ICD-10 and be poised for the future!

My Career Step Education

I started the Medical Coding and Billing program in September 2013 and cranked through the early sections pretty well.  The terminology, anatomy, and physiology were a breeze after not just studying medical transcription but also working in the field for a while.

Then came the April 2014 vote to delay ICD-10 for another year.  That really knocked me sideways for a while.  I felt really discouraged, and I don’t think I did any studying at all for at least a couple of months.  What good was it going to do me to learn ICD-10 if it was just going to be postponed over and over again?  But Career Step came through with a plan:  Depending on where you were in the program, you could elect to continue studying ICD-10 and then do a free “ICD-9 for ICD-10 Coders” mini-course, or you could go the other way and study ICD-9 and do a quick ICD-10 course at the end.  I pressed on with my ICD-10 emphasis, but I was grateful to know that I would also have the opportunity to learn ICD-9.  I would be ready for anything!  I got back to work.

Those months of doing nothing did cost me.  Once I got going again, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to finish in a year.  I bought an extension.  Even with those extra months, it was still going to be a struggle.  So in October, I put in my notice at my transcription job so I could focus full-time on my studies.  I graduated with Honors in early January 2015, 15 months after I started the program, and I finished the ICD-9 mini-course in late February. 

Getting Certified as a Medical Coder

After I finished my studies, I got to work on revising my resume, beefing up my LinkedIn profile and contact list, and working toward certification. I joined a bunch of coding-related groups on Facebook and LinkedIn and checked out job listings on and Simply Hired. Most places wanted certification or experience or, ideally, both. I figured there wasn’t much I could do about the experience part, but I could definitely do something about the certification!

I took and passed my ICD-10 Proficiency exam through the AAPC right away while my training was fresh in my mind.  I signed up for the next opportunity to take the CPC exam on April 4, and 6 very long days later, I learned I had passed the exam and was officially a CPC-A.

Starting a New Career

In the meantime, I had started going to the meetings of the local chapter of the AAPC. I went to the March meeting and met some great people with lots of experience in the field. At the April meeting, the chapter vice president suggested I contact an orthopedics clinic that was looking for a coder.  She’d actually spoken to them about me, and they apparently liked that I had a background in transcription. I sent them my resume the following day, interviewed with them that Friday, and came back on Monday for a second interview. They offered me the job half an hour after I left the offices, which included a competitive salary and good benefits and the clinic seemed like a nice place to work!

Then I got the word that one of the board members of the local AAPC chapter was moving, and they needed someone to step into her role. I volunteered, because it seemed like a great way to get really immersed in my new field. So in addition to having a new job, I am also now the Education Officer for my chapter.

My Career Step training gave me a solid base of knowledge on which to build. In the near future we will start doing some dual coding with both ICD-9 and ICD-10. This will help us get the practice we need before ICD-10 is finally adopted this October.  It will also allow us to help our doctors learn what documentation they need to be providing so that we can code accurately and completely. I’m really excited to be part of the team that will be helping to implement ICD-10 in our practice.

Recommending Career Step

It’s definitely been an adjustment as this is my first full-time job in 14 years, but I’m enjoying it so far and things look very promising. It’s been an excellent transition for me, and I am grateful for the outstanding training I received from Career Step including the support of student services answering all my questions, the student forum providing camaraderie and encouragement, and graduate services helping me with my resume and more. I’m also very grateful to my local chapter of the AAPC and cannot encourage new graduates strongly enough to get involved as much as they can. You’ll meet great people, learn a lot, and earn those CEUs—and maybe even find a job!

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  1. Marg July 21, 2015

    How did your employer train you in the workplace? I see you volunteered. but once you were an employee what steps were taken to train you on their systems for coding plus any additional training for coding reports?

  2. Darci September 08, 2015

    I was very happy to read your success story. I too am a graduate of the MT program through Career Step and have been working in the MT field for 6 years now and have been thinking I may need a change. I have considered the coding program and will definitely keep it as an option for possibly the near future after reading your story. Congrats on your success!! Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Leslie Mitchell September 08, 2015

    I applied for the single parent scholarship. I was just wondering whrn I might here something from my application. Thank ypi

  4. Career Step September 09, 2015

    Hi Leslie,

    The scholarship applications are currently under review, but the winner and all other applicants will receive a notice within 30 days of the deadline.

    Best wishes!

  5. leah stokes September 16, 2015

    Is the single parent scholarship through the school

  6. Career Step September 16, 2015

    Hi Leah,

    Career Step offers the Mothers Returning to School scholarship as well as several others throughout the year that may be used at the institute of the winner’s choice. You can find more details on our scholarships here:

    Best wishes!

  7. Nancy January 30, 2016

    Hi Darci-
    Could you give me some feedback on why you are thinking of leaving the Medical Transcription field.  I would like your honest opinion, as I am strongly considering the Medical Transcription and Editing course and hope to work from home.  I currently hold a Medical Assisting degree.



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