My Study System

By: Jessica

Good morning everyone! I hope you have had an amazing weekend filled with fun and relaxation! Here is to another great week! This week is all about making your school life a little bit easier. I will also add in some things that will help outside of the school life into regular everyday life. So let’s get started!

I know that everyone organizes and learns differently. But here are some of the ways that I like to stay organized. In Course Four, there quite a few tables and what I like to call cheat sheets. I found that these are very helpful and I knew that I could use them in the future when it comes to Medical Billing. So I made copies and put cute borders around them and just made them my own. Then I put them in clear sheets with 3 hole punches in them and created a binder. I labeled the binder Helpful Tips. Here is a list of the tables that I have in the binder:

1. Number of Diagnosis and Management Options

2. Data to be Reviewed Table

3. Risk of Complications and/or Morbidity or Mortality.

4. Quick Reference Guide to E/M Coding

I also made a page for each. You can put them back to back if you need to save space but I just like to put tabs on the edges, so I can just flip right to each table. I get those post-it sticky tabs that you can write on. Some other things I have in my binder are the photos from the Anatomy and Physiology book, like the quadrants and specific body functions, the decision tree for new and established patients from the CPT book. That book also has great big photos of body functions. Yes, of course, you will have the books with you, but like I said before I like to just quickly flip to a tab. You could also use the sticky tabs in your books to help you flip to them quickly.

Weekend design.

Another thing I did was buy a plastic photo organizer. Mine came with 12 photo cases. They are the perfect size for small note cards. I labeled each note card with the course number, chapter number, and the page numbers. So now I have all my important notes that have helped with the passed test and quizzes. They all fit in one box. Now this may look silly carrying this into your new office, but I am 100% positive you will refer back to your notes at some point in your first few weeks. Also, in my binder I like to have a pencil case with the 3-hole-punch and a zipper so I can keep extra sticky tabs and a few pens and markers. Post-it notes are also handy so I can mark pages I find helpful to either take notes from or make copies to put in the binder if I don’t have the time at the moment. I hope this helps you in your studies. I encourage you to make it yours and find your unique system that works for you. Enjoy your week and keep going, you got this!

Addressing Back-to-School Concerns

By: Jessica

Hi everyone! Welcome back to a new week! I hope you had a great relaxing weekend. Today is all about addressing concerns you may have had before you took the leap to go back to school. I’ll also pose the question of whether your concerns have gone away after completing the courses. I know that when you are going to make some type of change in your life or transition there are always lot of “what ifs” and concerns. Do you make a road map of pros and cons or are you the type of person that just jumps in with both feet and enjoys the adventure?

I am the type of person that has to go through every detail before I can make a determined decision. Now my husband, on the other hand, he is a jump all in, no reservations type of guy. I will be the first to say his way is much more fun. But, as always, it depends on the situation, also. For example, if you are just trying to decide what to do for the day on a vacation, I say pick something you have never done and just go with it and enjoy the experience. Vacation time is never wasted! But, on the other hand, if you are choosing to change careers or go back to school, to me that is a significant change and it will always need some research and planning.

Jessica 8-8So, my concern with choosing to do medical documentation was whether I would enjoy the work,  if it was something I could do long-term and whether there would be a need for the position long-term. Those are the 3 questions I asked the AHP representative at the initial seminar. I also chose to look up these questions on other sites, such as Glassdoor, to ensure there was a need. I was very surprised to see that there was a huge need and it has only grown more since I have been in the program. On most of those sites you can also see what the average income level is for different positions. Obviously, if you are going to go to school and invest in something, you want to make sure that you will be making your money back and then some!

Now that I have almost completed the program, do I still have the same concerns? I personally don’t. I know that there is a need for the position because I have already applied to 4 different offices and I have gotten 6 calls from different companies wanting to know when I will complete the program! They want to fill their position ASAP! That is the best feeling, knowing that employers are actively searching for medical documentation specialists. Does that add a sense of urgency for me to complete the program? Absolutely!

Keep in mind, if you have concerns, do some research until you feel comfortable with the answers. Use different resources, also. Then, if you’re getting favorable answers, I say dive in! Change is not a bad thing, that’s been the hardest thing for me to learn to date. I hope you have a fantastic week! See you next time!

How to Achieve Self-Happiness

By: Jessica

Hi everyone, I hope you are having a fantastic week! I know I have been cramming in as much fun in the sun as I can all while working on completing my homework. It is a true balancing act to complete your homework and all your fun time, too.

So this week is all about making yourself happy. There is so much negativity out there, it’s crazy. I mean, do you ever have those moments when you are like, “Ok, I just need a weekend to myself to just sit and do what I want to do or do what I need to get done?” Well, that is what this is all about. Maybe that’s why you decided to check out At-Home Professions – because you want to do something for yourself. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you are being selfish because you want to accomplish something for yourself. Yes, it may cost money and your family may not be where you want to be financially, but you are well worth the money. Plus, in the long run, going to school will pay off way more than your tuition Your income will increase!

Jessica 8-1-2The peace of mind you get when you accomplish something that no one can ever take away from you is amazing. It is not just another skill posted on your resume, but knowledge gained, friendships built, and networking opportunities. There are a ton of colleges to choose from, I have been to a few. But this is the only one that has offered me the most sincere instructors who actually have gone through the program themselves and been through the same struggles that I have had in the program. The instructors are truly there for you. I honestly cannot say enough good things about them.

Maybe At-Home Professions is not your happiness, but you continue to do it because in the end you can say, “Yes, I did it and I finished!” But whatever you find that makes you happy and fills you with a little bit of positivity, I say do it! Positivity is something that shines through, even when everyone else isn’t being positive. If there is one thing you want to do and have yet to do it, I say just do it. They say life is all about taking chances. I say life is what you make it. No one is just going to be all rainbows and sunshine and go passing out big bags of money or gifts. That’s Santa’s job, right? HA! But your happiness is all on you.

So, this week make a list of things that make you happy, and do at least 3 of them. Watch how your happiness will spread to others and also how it will help you in accomplishing things faster and more thoroughly. That is your homework from me for the week. I am going to get back to my quiz and get my stress taken care of by going to the beach and finishing up the fourth course. Have a great week and enjoy! See you next week!

That Successful Feeling

By: Jessica

Hey everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and are ready to tackle the week. I had a great weekend and have accomplished a lot as far as my homework. I am feeling pretty good. You know when you get a bunch of stuff crossed off your to-do list – or even everything off your list? It makes me feel like a million bucks! Let’s talk about that!

Have you completed a course with flying colors? When I was on a roll with my first two courses, I literally finished them in a week. Then I got a C on one of my quizzes and I freaked out. I thought, “Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?” But after calming down and going back over my mistakes, I realized I just need to slow down and read everything slowly to ensure I comprehend things. If you haven’t already guessed by now, I am very impatient with life. I want everything here and now. Life and school do not work that way, as I am learning this the hard way. I do believe I have a good grasp on the material now. I have slowed WAY down. Almost to the point that it’s too slow.

Jessica 7-24

I am in the middle of my summer here in Michigan – we really only get 3, maybe 4, months of warm weather, so I love to be outside and on the beach as much as possible. But as you have read in the previous blog, I have set a specific time frame that I commit to doing my schooling every single day. Monday through Friday 7am to 1pm. Do you know how hard that is to stick to when you have so many friends and family begging you to go to the beach or on random vacations? It is very hard. To be honest, I have caved several times already but I have always either brought my work with me or made sure that when I came home I spent the extra time and got it completed so that I can stay on track.

So, what do you feel like when you are successful? Do you celebrate? When I feel successful I feel accomplished, like I’ve gotten something done that I wanted to get done in record time. By record time I mean before the time that it is due. I love to beat my GPS. If my GPS has an ETA of 4:30 pm, I have to get there any time before 4:30pm or I do not consider that success. We judge ourselves harshly. I know that for a fact because we are the only ones that know what we are capable of doing. So, with that being said, I encourage you to make a goal for this week and exceed it. Then right in your journal or even comment below as to how that made you feel. Did you feel successful? Have a great week!

Getting Back on Track

By: Jessica

Hi Everyone!!! Hope you had a wonderful weekend and got to spend some much needed time with family and friends. Have you ever just had those days when nothing goes right for you? Literally, everything you seem to touch just falls apart? We all have those moments when we just want to put all of our bad days in a locked cellar and never see them again, right? Well, not to be a bubble buster, but it does not work like that, but we can learn from those days and choose to move on with a smile and try again!

Jessica 7-17My recent experience with Course 4 on CPT Coding is just getting the best of me. I slacked off for a while, I know, shame on me. So I tried to just rush through and get the gist of the chapter, then do my quizzes and test. Bad idea!!! Let me repeat: bad idea, don’t do it! Rushing through and getting just the gist really hurt my grade. I am very persistent with having a decent grade when I am finished with my program. With this, it has really set me back. I wanted to just give up like a few of the naysayers said I would. But, hearing them say, “I told you so,” is not an option for me.

I went back and read the entire chapter and went over my quiz again with the correct answers and made sure I understood how that answer was obtained. I even got a message from my current instructor asking if I needed some help because she had noticed a change in my grade and the time I had spent. That is customer service! These instructors really do care and you are not just a number to them. The lesson I learned was, seriously, just take the time that is needed to learn the lesson. Do not rush through it, doing so will hurt you in the long run and you won’t absorb everything you need to for the test. It’s not worth it. It will take you even longer in the end. If you do not have the time to read through, wait until you do have the time or, again, schedule out your study time to ensure you’re thorough.

Here are my study tips:

1. Schedule at least a 4 hour study session, 3 times a week.

2. Read, take notes and/or highlight the important concepts from each lesson.

3. Read the quiz questions before you begin a chapter. This helps me know what I need to remember without highlighting the whole chapter!

4. Answer these quiz questions as you go.

5. If you do not feel confident in your answers, go back and reread that section to ensure you understand the concept completely so you can answer the question. I promise it really is in the book!

6. If you’re in need of help, look in the chat room to find your current instructor. If he or she is not available, send a message. They will reply as soon as they can. You can also contact them by phone!

There are plenty of people who are willing to help you, even fellow students. Just make sure you are not just getting the answer. Understanding why that is the answer and how to obtain the answer is key to actually learning the material! Have a great week!

Testing Tips

By: Jessica

Hello everyone! Welcome back to another new week. I hope you had a great weekend. This week I’m going to discuss testing. Everyone has different feelings towards it. I, for one, used to stress out as a child. Now that I am older and wiser, I just prepare my best and stress out after until I get my grade. I’ve put together some tips that I use to prepare for testing. These works for me, and I am sure there are other ways to prepare! If you have some ideas to share, please feel free to do so in the comments!

Thumbs UpFor those of you that have the actual hard copy of the workbooks, this is why I get the actual hard copies: for preparing for the tests. I like to highlight or even put sticky tags on important information that I need to remember or come back to. For those of you that use the computer only, don’t worry, there are also ways to highlight and sticky note the lesson books digitally, too.

For Computer-Only Users:

I keep notes on my computer by highlighting, copying and pasting valuable info into a Word document. I title these documents by the chapter and then “Notes” at the top of the page. Above each note I also like to put the page number and maybe a small title to what each note pertains to, so when I go back and look at all my notes I am not confused as to what I am looking at. When I have all my notes in place, I will go back and read through my practice quizzes and ensure I know how I came up with each answer. The practice quizzes have really helped me with the tests. Note to self: make sure you have the correct answers, too 🙂

If there are any words that you are not sure of, look them up in the medical dictionary. I know it sounds tedious, but trust me, it helps to know what that word means. That one word could tell you if the question wants to know more about the heart or a certain part of the body! If you do not know what it means, you could think it is about a totally different part of the body!

For Hard Copy Users:

To prepare for tests, I have a million little sticky tags all over my workbook. I have one with the chapter and page number, like a bookmark. Then on the specific page, I have a tag on the paragraph I want to remember and I have that specific information highlighted. It seems like lot but it’s easy to do when you are just reading along. I tag as I go. I always read the practice quiz before I start the chapter so I know what I am looking for. Once you do it a few times, it goes by quickly and practice tests and quizzes are smooth sailing.

Of course, the night before you take a test make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Be sure to eat and be wide awake. Also, don’t rush yourself, give yourself plenty of time! Happy Testing!

How to Stay on Top of School While Traveling

By: Jessica

Hi everyone! Welcome back to another week. This week I will be discussing traveling with homework. There may be times that you will need to travel while also getting homework done. There are so many options and ways to get things accomplished, so here are some of the tips and tricks that I’ve used before. Remember, there is no excuse not to stay on top of your schooling, believe me, I know every excuse in the book. So, here my favorite tips!

1. Take a bag that has lots of pockets or expandable file folders. Organize what chapters or tests you want to accomplish each day. I separate my tests and quizzes. I only do one test a day, but only because tests tend to take me a while. Remember not to overwhelm yourself each day – just start out with adding a little more each day. If you start out with a huge amount to accomplish you will not want to start again the next day.

2. Bring ear buds so you can listen to the audio lesson for terminology. I actually do this when I need to give my eyes a break while on the road. It will help you to sleep and also will help you to remember the medical terms easily.

3. When you go in a restaurant or restroom make sure to put your stuff in a pocket so it wont get lost. Also, pick a few term words or body parts to repeat to yourself while you are walking. My family helped me make jingles Other folks may think you are crazy, but that’s ok!

getfileattachment-12.jpg4. Pick a specific time everyday to study. Let others that are traveling too know that you need to do this and need quiet and no distractions. You will be surprised how willing they will be to help and support you!

5. Come up with fun games to play with others with your studies. The one I did was spelling game. Pick a medical term or body part – I picked short ones at first, like vein. You could use any signs or license plates you see, but you can only use the first letter in a word. The first one to spell it won. We kept score and whoever got the highest score got to get a free dessert or drink, or something like that, next time we stopped. The bigger the word the harder it got! This seems so easy until you forget how to spell a word! Or, when everyone is looking for the same letter!

6. Use a pencil!!! I literally have a whole workbook that looks like a 2-year-old wrote all over it. Roads are SO bumpy. Trains are the same way, stop and go and the rocking.

7. Don’t make the entire trip about stressing over getting it all done. Keep your specific, alotted time each day so you’re on a schedule. I bet you will be surprised how much you accomplish by the time your trip is over. And, the wonderful memories with friends and family will last forever. Especially when you’re working and come upon a medical term from your trip that you needed signs to spell! I still chuckle when I see them!

Enjoy your week and travels if you have a trip or vacation coming up!

What I’ve Learned So Far

By: Jessica

Jessica 6-19Good morning, everyone! I hope you have had a great week! It is hot here in Michigan and I am soaking it all in. So, this week I want to chit chat about what I have learned so far in my HDS program and how I have been able to utilize it in my everyday life. So, here it goes!

1. Terminology – There are a lot of big words. But when they are broken down I can, a) pronounce them, b) there are only 6 to 10 real things to remember, which are where on the body are they (i.e. brain, heart, skeletal, kidney, skin, etc.) Terminology is basically a road map for healthcare. Once you know where to begin, it will guide you through. Just as in life, take things slowly and break it down so you can understand it all. Everything will fall into place if you just take it slow and don’t give up. Just keep following your own road map. As far as doctor visits, after the terminology portion of this course, you will know what all these complicated words mean and understand what the doctor is talking about. No more feeling clueless – and now all your other family members will want you to decode things for them, too.

2. Billing – Insurance and doctors seem like they make this so much harder than it really is. Billing has honestly been my favorite part of this program so far. Just like in life, there are so many options that can be used, so it can be very overwhelming. Again, break it down and it will be much easier. I am the type of person that likes things in black and white, that’s it, two options or I get overwhelmed. It seems, for me anyway, there are more lessons in this program than meet the eye.

3. Human Anatomy – I knew men were confusing (HA!), but there is a lot to know about our bodies! When learning about the human body, it is very interesting and, at times, can make my stomach turn. But, I have a weak stomach, too. This is when the light bulb popped on for me. Learning how things work and why you get sick and how the sickness travels through the blood was eye opening. Don’t get me wrong, there is A LOT of information, but it’s like reading a good book you cannot put down. One word of advice: don’t go to the doctor and tell him, “no thanks, I do not need your services, I know exactly what is wrong with me,” and go on to explain your anatomy and how you have come to that conclusion. He might get a bit upset!

4. Coding – This, for me, has been the most frustrating part of the course. I am still going through this section. I cannot lie, it has made me want to give up a few times. I have slammed my book shut at least three times (and counting). I have persisted, however, and I am starting to get it. Again, the light bulb has clicked on. The only way I can explain it is this: it’s like searching for a word in Webster’s Dictionary, there are so many options for each code. You have to break it down until it cannot be broken down anymore. Patience really helps in this section!

Just like in the real world, everything takes time and patience. Once you’ve accomplished your goal (big or small) a weight is lifted from your shoulders and a big smile is on your face. So, keep going and be patient. See you next week!

Your First Day vs. Your Last Day

By: Jessica

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and are all rested and ready to begin a new week ahead. I’d like you to think back to the first day you began this program; were you nervous or excited maybe? I was all in, rearing to go. I think it literally only took 2 weeks for me to complete the first course. But I had already taken a few courses prior to At-Home Professions, so please don’t feel like you are lagging at all if it takes you longer than that! By the third course I slowed down a lot. This program is by no means easy, and there are some complicated questions and situations you’ll encounter in your schoolwork that I am positive will come up in the workplace, also. But that is what this program is designed for – to give you the real life situations up front so you are trained and prepared to conquer them when they arise!

I’ll be completely honest with you, when I first started this program I was so sure that I was going to complete this program in less than 6 months. But here I am, a year later and I am working on the fourth course. I had given work and other things my focus, and not my schooling. As we all know, it is not easy to juggle school, work and family. But it can be done with lots of planning and support!

GetFileAttachment-1My last day of work until September is this Friday. Starting then, my whole focus will be to complete this course no later than July. If you’re struggling to finish the program and feel like giving up, talk to your supporters or even an instructor to get back that positive energy and excitement you had in the beginning. I cannot wait to feel the accomplishment of checking one more thing off my bucket list. However, don’t let completing one task satisfy you – keep going! Get that dream job of working from home coding and transcribing. I am a firm believer that life is what you make it. There is no limit to how much you can learn or achieve.

Each completed task, or check off your bucket list, will only make you smile brighter and boost your confidence even more. When you complete your last course and get that certificate in the mail, write down your feelings. Send an email to your instructors letting them know how much they helped you or how amazing it feels to get that certificate in your hands. Then dive right into the job search. Don’t ever stop wanting more for yourself and your family.

Another question I’ve received from others is about whether I will celebrate earning a certification? I say absolutely! Any accomplishment needs to be celebrated. Keep going, you’re almost there. If you have already finished, tell us how hard or how easy or just how the course was for you, personally. You never know how your experience may relate to another’s experience!

7 Things You Learned as a Child

By: Jessica

Good morning! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and got to get outside and enjoy yourselves. Did you feel excited and happy like a when you were a kid last Friday? I know I did. That’s kind of what I want to talk about this week. Are there things you learned during childhood that you still use today? I totally remember being in math class doing algebra thinking, “how in the world will I ever use this in everyday life?” So here is a list of 7 things that I use today that I learned when I was a child:

GetFileAttachment-11. If you fall get back up and try again. You know that saying your parents gave you when they didn’t want to hear you cry and whine. Get back on and try again. In adult life it’s called trial and error. I use this all the time. Even now with AHP, you have to find and search for things that work for you.

2. The golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. This will get you far in life. Now, I know it’s hard to do when you’re driving – believe me, I know – but it really does work. I wish more people would try it.

3. Get your schoolwork and chores done before play. I hate this one to this day. But it helps keep me on course. I feel like, as an adult, it’s more like “pay your bills before you use play money.”

4. Pick up your toys. Everything has a place. Yes, as a child everything had its place under my bed. I always knew what side to shove it under. As an adult I am always telling my husband everything has a specific place in order to keep our home looking nice and tidy. Then I realize I sounds like my parents. Growing up is no fun!

5. Make sure to eat a big breakfast. My mom and grandma always said this. You never know when you will get a chance to eat lunch when you are busy. This stands true. I get so busy I forget to eat until my stomach rumbles angrily. I always make sure to pack a snack, too.

6. Don’t talk to strangers. Well, I try not to talk to anyone before I have had my coffee. I am not a very peppy person in the morning. But now that we are older my parents are always telling me to go out and meet new people. The world is full of strangers but they will stay strangers unless you get to know them well. Hmm… trust your gut feeling when it comes to meeting new strangers, even if it is your boss.

7. Knowledge is power. If this isn’t the truth, I don’t know what is. The more knowledge you gain the more aware of things you are. The more degrees or certificates you have the more opportunities will be available to you.

Think about your childhood and what lessons could help you learn more in your everyday life. Life is what you make it. Enjoy your week and see you next week!