Meet Elizabeth Morgan
Professional Medical Coding and Billing Learner
When Elizabeth Morgan, formerly a retail worker at a department store makeup counter, became a mother, it changed everything. Although there were parts of her job she enjoyed, she couldn’t imagine leaving her new baby all day. Becoming a mother was a turning point in her career.
But what could she do without a college degree? With unpredictable work hours, Elizabeth could only take one class each semester, and it didn’t make financial sense to go to school full time. Having a baby spurred Elizabeth into action to find an immediate solution that would help her family in the long term. This is the story of how Elizabeth, a hard worker and devoted mom, changed her life for the better with Career Step.
Staying Close to Baby While Training
Elizabeth returned to her retail job 10 weeks after giving birth. It was a rough transition. “I thought, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t leave my baby!’” she remembers. She was committed to being a stay-at-home mom and decided quickly it was time to give her two weeks’ notice. She had a long-standing interest in healthcare, but she wasn’t sure where to start without training or experience.
With her husband, Elizabeth explored options. They were both impressed with Career Step’s self-paced Medical Coding program. To sweeten the deal, with her husband being on active military duty, Elizabeth was eligible for the My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) federal grant that would cover all of her training.
Elizabeth took the course online while caring for her daughter at home. It was a welcome change from the long hours in her former fast-paced role. Elizabeth made Career Step work around her family’s schedule. “I could complete training when my daughter was sleeping at night, during naptime, and whenever I could,” she said. She completed her training with honors within six months. “I have been able to be there for my daughter in a way that I wouldn't have been able to be before, so I just am very, very grateful for Career Step,” said Elizabeth.
During the time she was taking the course, Elizabeth volunteered at the Army hospital to get a taste of working in the medical field, and within just a few months of completing Career Step's training she earned her Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential—the cost of which was also covered by her MyCAA scholarship.
Soon after she completed the program, Elizabeth participated in a group job interview with other Career Step learners and was quickly hired by a major healthcare information management company. “When I was hired,” said Elizabeth, “the company said they really liked hiring Career Step graduates.” In her new job, Elizabeth received additional training in the company’s proprietary Coder Development Program, a 15-week course that gave coders a chance to practice with real inpatient coding scenarios.
When she completed her company’s training, Elizabeth had ambitions to continue polishing her resume. “I utilized all of the Career Step forums,” she said, where she gained valuable advice from other learners. She wanted to make herself as marketable as possible, while taking advantage of company-covered certifications. She started studying for the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) certification, which was paid for by her employer. She passed the required exam, instantly increasing her value as a marketable coder.
Having it All is Possible
After gaining eight months of experience in her first position, Elizabeth was hired by a different company, where she has now worked for a year. “They're a little bit smaller of a company, but it's a really great atmosphere, really great people,” said Elizabeth. Now working remotely from home, she loves her work-life balance.
On a typical day, Elizabeth and her daughter wake up and eat breakfast together. After that, Elizabeth starts checking her emails while her daughter plays or watches a show nearby. Her daughter, now three, doesn’t know anything different than having her mom work at home. “She's gotten to the age where she finally understands that Mommy's working, so she lets me work,” said Elizabeth. “And the best part is that I get to be home with her.”
In addition to not having to leave her daughter, there are even more benefits to Elizabeth’s new career. When she was working at the makeup counter, Elizabeth’s life was scheduled around long retail hours. “There were times I would work until midnight, and then I'd have to be back at work at 7:00 in the morning,” she remembers. Her medical coding career is much more flexible. If her daughter has a doctor's appointment, Elizabeth can easily take her. Her job allows her to work a fairly consistent nine-to-five, Monday–Friday schedule. And she sees this as a job she can keep for years to come–now that she’s not on her feet all day. “I work with women who are in their 60s and maybe even 70s who are still coding and have been coding for years and have no signs of slowing down,” she said. Working from home also hasn’t resulted in a pay cut. In fact, Elizabeth’s contributing more to her family than ever before. “I'm making about $15,000 more a year than I was.”
To top it off, Elizabeth finds her work to be incredibly fulfilling. Coding allows her to help others “in a much more significant way” than she could in previous jobs, “rewarding doctors for taking care of patients.” Elizabeth also likes being on the tidy side of the medical industry. “We get to be behind the scenes but don't have to actually touch or see the blood and stuff. I really love it,” Elizabeth said. “You're always learning new things, you're always engaged; I mean, one chart is not exactly like the last chart. It's very interesting, it's very rewarding, and I love the people I work with.”
Advancing a Career AND Taking Care of a Family
“Years ago, all you needed was a degree to get a job. It didn’t matter what degree it was. Fast forward to now, and the economy has completely changed” said Elizabeth. What was her strategy to standing out without a four-year degree? Career Step and certifications. She sees financial benefits for companies that hire remote workers. Fortunately, for those who want to work from home, there are a growing number of options. “I prefer to work remotely, and it does seem like there are a lot of remote positions out there,” said Elizabeth.
For Elizabeth, Career Step’s Medical Coding program has opened up a whole new range of opportunities. “It was a great program, and I couldn’t be more happy or thankful,” said Elizabeth. From the very beginning, medical coding offered Elizabeth ways to grow her career on her own terms. So, where will she go from here? “When my daughter goes to kindergarten,” Elizabeth said, “I want to go back and get a bachelor's degree and possibly certify as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and be in management. I think I can go a lot further with this career.” For this ambitious mama, advancing her career and taking care of her family are completely compatible.