Student Review: Jill Smithers

Student Spotlight: Jill Smithers

As I began to see a decline in my options as a secondary public school teacher, I kept thinking about becoming a medical coder. It seemed a great fit for me professionally, and I really believed that the job opportunities would be great because of the projected need for quality coders. Also, I knew people would continually need medical care. As a 22 year veteran teacher, I found out that my options were becoming non-existent as a teacher. You see, I have a degree in Family and Consumer Science, formerly known as Home Economics. With technology skills being in the forefront for the next generation, Home Ec was on its way out. I really felt like I needed to start preparing for a new career, but either time was an issue or tuition costs. So I put it off and kind of forgot about it.

My husband and I lived in Atlanta and loved it…great house, great life, but needing new job opportunities. He found a great job in Boone, NC at a disaster relief organization and we moved to the mountains of North Carolina. I was able to find a part time teaching job, but it didn’t last, and then found a full time teaching position, but the position was cut due to funding. So, here I was with all kinds of time to pursue another career. But what career?

After spending a restless night trying to figure out how to reinvent myself, I remembered my interest in medical coding. I went online and found Career Step. I perused other programs, but they seemed to be lacking content. I didn’t want to just stumble around in a job as a coder; I wanted to confidently know what I was doing. As I read more about Career Step’s program, I found it actually prepares you to be a very competent coder. It’s tough, but I want to be as prepared as possible for my new career. I talked it over with my husband, and he has been 100% behind me from day one. He even pauses medical dramas on TV to ask me what a particular condition is! When I’m using the Dorland’s Medical reference and click on a particular graphic medical condition photo, I’ll ask him, “Hey, do you want to see something icky?” And he comes running! He’s even thought about signing up for the program too! Our German Shepherd, Nena, is the only one who isn’t so supportive. Career Step takes away from our stick throwing time! I have a set schedule, studying 5-6 hours a day (in between the stick throwing with Nena) and try to soak it all in.

I’m learning so much and having fun (well, except maybe for E/M codes!) and am really looking forward to starting my career this summer. The support folks are so helpful and always so encouraging. The resources, the books, the help, the instructors…it’s all going to prepare me to be successful!

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