Making Your Dreams Become Reality

By: Vanessa

Hello everyone and thank you for following along and reading our school’s public blog. I still love my online learning experience at AHP and the convenience of the HDS program. I’m studying away and preparing to become a Healthcare Document Specialist.

I’ve always wanted to work in the healthcare industry and first set out studying biology, chemistry, and child development when I attended junior college. When some people hear ‘sodium’, they might think of salt or which foods have high sodium and low sodium. I do too, but I also think of the chemical formula, letters and numbers combining and forming new compounds. I have a wide range of interests and later attended junior college again, but to study business, accounting, and tax.

Now, I’m studying intently, sometimes daily, in order to become a Certified Healthcare Document Specialist. My plan is to become a PT Medical Transcriptionist/Self-employed/Remote. I applied for my own business and I’m starting to watch my dreams become reality. Where did I always want to work? A medical office. What occupation did I start my business for? Medical Transcription. Bingo.

Vanessa 8-24

I feel confident in my ability to use computers, text documents, and software. I have a firm understanding of medical terminology, abbreviations, grammar, anatomy and physiology, and the body systems. I am currently preparing for another quiz and I know that I will have to listen to audio for this one. I try to reach, take, and pass a quiz at least once a week. I still go over each practice exercise and check my answers. I think the HDS program is fun, informative, and a great long-distance education program.

Apply what you know. As I was reading along in the lesson book, I read ALT + 248 will insert a degree symbol. Which will be handy for transcribing vital signs. Right then and there, I opened a new Word document, typed ALT + 248 and it happened. The degree symbol worked. I remember that specific keyboard shortcut because I applied what I learned and it became ‘what I know’. The same concept applies to the ‘Resume’. Keep it updated!

If you just started with us at At-Home Professions, you can add that to your resume. If you are on the last course or recently graduated, make sure your resume is up to date. Why did you choose to study this degree program? Evaluate yourself, your goals, and your accomplishments. Turn everything you’ve learned into what you know.

“I’m a Healthcare Document Specialist student with office management, bookkeeping and administrative experience in a variety of industries, small businesses and corporations.”

How You Can Benefit From a Mentor

By: Jessica

Hi everyone! First, I want to ask you how you did with setting your goals? Did you make one? Did you achieve what you have set out to do? If you did not achieve a daily, monthly or even yearly goal, that is OK – we can all try again. The key word is try, do not give up. Also in today’s blog post, I have another handy idea and tip to help with achieving your goals too.

Have you ever heard of a mentor? If you haven’t that’s OK, because I am going to explain what it is, what to look for, and why it may help. First, a mentor is usually a person. I suppose you could have a robot or Siri, but I am not that tech savvy so we will stick to humans for now. Mentors are similar to guidance counselors, parents, and teachers. They are there to help you through a specific subject or life in general. The specifics depends on the person you choose. For today let’s focus on choosing a mentor for our Medical Documentation program!

Jessica 8-23

Now when I say mentor, I do not mean someone who will give you all the answers, because obviously that would be cheating and you would not learn anything. Mentoring is giving advice, answering questions, offering motivation, and being committed to helping someone else. You’ll want to choose a person that you can trust and feel comfortable enough around to ask questions and receive good and bad feedback. Mentors give you motivation to keep going when you want to quit and keep you on track when you want to take a curve going 100 mph.

Why do you need a mentor? This is a choice you have to make for yourself. Having a mentor is not 100% necessary to your success. However, it is a good idea because, most likely, a mentor can help find job leads and be there to show you the ropes. Their experience in the field can be a benefit to you. For example, let’s say you are in the fourth course of the program and are struggling to keep a steady pace. There is so much information being thrown at you all at once and you do not feel like you are absorbing any of it. You feel like throwing in the towel. What would you do? Most likely you would talk to a friend or someone close to you and tell them what is going on and that you feel like giving up. A friend will, of course, advise you to keep going, but they may or may not have any insight or helpful hints and tricks about your specific program. This is where your mentor will and can suggest a few tips to make it easier on you.

What type of people can be a mentor? Instructors are great, doctors, nurses, fellow classmates, and of course medical billers. This person is going to be someone you will be talking to a lot, so make sure you like them and let them know in advance that you need someone who can commit to mentoring. Most people that get asked to mentor are very happy to do so. Try it out and keep working on your goals, you will get there before you know it!

Coding Like An Olympian

By: Annie

I must admit, the combination of summer weather, the knowledge that our warm weather will soon be coming to an end, and the Summer Olympics have derailed me from my studies a bit. We’ve been doing lots of family things and day trips which have been so much fun, but I certainly need to find the balance of home life and studying once again.

The Olympics have been so fun to watch. I love to see the camaraderie between the American athletes and the competitiveness between all the countries is pretty interesting too. The hard work and dedication is so evident and it shows on all the participants’ faces when they win or lose.

Another thing that is evident and something that the broadcasters talk about endlessly is how much practice each athlete puts in to compete in the Olympics. Most of the athletes begin practicing their discipline when they are just children. They literally train their whole lives for a chance at Olympic glory. The old adage, “practice makes perfect,” is certainly in full effect at the games.

When pondering what to write about this week, I took a look at what’s going on in my life at the moment. I’ve been so engrossed in the Olympics and I thought, “well maybe I can find a way to relate that to my studies,” and I did! Just like these amazing athletes practice and train every day for their sport, we have to practice for our chosen careers. For me, practice, practice, and more practice is what has brought me success in medical coding. I understand the steps and how coding works, but the thing that really helps me is doing the practice exercises and getting the real world experience aspect of coding.

I’m hoping to wrap up Course 3 this week. My Course 4 materials came in the mail this morning and I ripped the box open like a kid on Christmas. I ordered the hard copy of the book so once that arrives I’ll be in business! I hope your studies are progressing well, too. Don’t forget to practice, practice, practice!

Typing Practice, Tests & Transcription

By: Vanessa

Today my blog post is about developing better typing skills and how to get some practice at home while studying. This presents more of a hands-on approach to typing data and being productive all at the same time. I have recently started Course Five: Medical Transcription and Editing and I definitely want to practice typing before I graduate, even though I can already type 60+ wpm. I know that I can type fast but I have never worked as a medical transcriptionist before and I want to be ready for when I do.

Typing: One way to write notes or rewrite notes is to type them and save the notes electronically for future reference. Typing the notes you have already written is a good way to study, practice typing, and clean up that messy notebook. I have read through several lessons in which I typed up notes directly to a document or later typed them off my notebook. Some examples are:

  • Code first, code also, use additional codes
  • Evaluation & Management- E/M Level of Service
  • Explanation of benefits
  • Insurance programs
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Lesson 1 Flashcards
  • Medical plurals
  • Procedural definitions
  • SOAP format
  • Steps to CPT coding

This exercise could take several hours and would be great practice to get better at typing. After a length of time or whenever completing a sheet, I save the file I’m working on. If something happened and I lost data before finishing my work, then I could restart from the saved file.

After I type important notes, I print the document and alphabetize them in a small binder I have with all my HDS notes. My plan is to be able to go straight to my binder to find something before looking at my notebook or lesson book. I’d like to keep the binder right here at my home office for future use.

Keyboard Shortcuts: Keyboard shortcuts make data entry, navigation, and accuracy easier and faster by using the keyboard to select the buttons that coordinate with a rule.

Vanessa 8-15

Typing Test: There are lots of free typing tests online, too. All you have to do is browse the internet and search for “typing test”. There will be several options and different links to pick. I usually pick tests that last five minutes long, but some tests are only one or three minutes and all of them are good practice.

Transcription: I’m still reading the first lesson, trying to set up my software and foot pedal, and put it all together. I am reading through the Express Scribe Tutorial and the Transcription Reference Guide along with the lesson book. I am super excited to be on the last stretch of the HDS program and I can’t wait to work as a Medical Document Specialist.

The Importance of Asking for Help

By: Jessica

Jessica 8-15-2Today I’m going to discuss something that’s very hard for us to do as adults. Everyone has been there. It’s that stage in life where you know you are a grown adult and shouldn’t have to ask for help, but guess what? There is always a point in our adult life that we need just a little (or a lot) of help once in a while, sometimes this could be several different instances where we need help. So why is asking for help such a hard task to do as an adult? But as children we have no problems asking for help?

The answer, I think, has a lot to do with pride. We’re taught that when we get older, or into the adult stage of life, that we should be able to handle things (like our schoolwork) on our own, right? This is true – usually we’re all capable of doing this. Now if you were in an actual classroom and had to raise your hand to ask a questions, would you? Or would you feel shy or embarrassed because you should know this answer? With At-Home Professions, there is no hand raising. The instructors are a click or a phone call away. No one but the instructor and you will know that you asked a question. But there is still hesitation to ask for help. I know that I, personally, have gone out of my way to not ask an instructor for help just because I was embarrassed. And it took me getting a low test grade to come to my senses and ask for help because I just was not understanding the information that was in front of me.

Not only is asking for help hard when it comes to school work, it’s even harder to ask for help in life situations that deal with finances, children, or even marriage. I feel like it shows one’s character when someone can ask for help when they need it. This is not a sign of weakness at all. It’s a sign that you’re being honest with yourself, as well as a sign of maturity.

Especially when it comes to your At-Home Professions program, there are so many resources at your fingertips. Look at it this way; this program was created so that you would ask questions. You chose this program because it was something you wanted to learn about right? So if you have any doubt on any information in any chapter, make a list and get your questions answered – your instructors encourage it! I like to look at it as though I am coming to terms with myself and I just flat out need to ask for help. Otherwise I am going to drive myself crazy or come up with the wrong answer. I have a challenge for you this week. It is going to be tough, but I assure you, it will be worth it. For this week’s challenge: Send an email to one instructor of your choice asking them a question about the program. It can be a question that you have been holding on to, or even a get-to-know you type of question, such as “how long have you been an instructor?” I love that I can just type an email and within a day or two I have the answer right at my finger tips!

Almost Only Counts in Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades

By: Annie

I recently wrapped up Quiz 19 in Course 3. It took me a little while to get through the chapters and lessons for a few reasons. First, I was going at a slower pace than normal because of all the information provided in each lesson. I waded my way through all the new terms and was successful in matching terms to the diagnosis given in the practice exercises.

The second reason it took me longer than normal was, of course, life and the effects of having a baby, a job, a husband, and acquiring a new pet—yep, my husband decided we needed to add a kitten to our brood so Sarge Strickland is our newest family member!

Although it took me longer than normal to make my way through Quiz 19, my confidence didn’t waiver. I was acing the Practice Exercises and surprising myself even that I was getting so good at looking up codes. Perhaps I was getting a little too confident in my abilities because it came time to submit my quiz for grading and I was very unpleasantly surprised.

79%. Umm, what? I had to double check my score to make sure I read it correctly. That’s the lowest test grade I’ve ever received in my educational career—and I’ve taken a lot of tests! The score started to sink in and it felt like a punch to my stomach.

I gathered my emotions and decided to investigate just where exactly I went wrong. I aced the multiple choice section with flying colors. I figured that is not where the trouble lay as I usually look each answer up religiously and don’t choose an answer until I can find it word for word in the text. Just as I suspected, the problem came in the section of the test that we had to try our hand at coding.

Every single code that I got wrong I was only off by a code point or two. Every. Single. One. How could I be so close, yet so far away? To me, that’s almost worse than getting the code completely wrong because it means I was on that right path, I just got off about an exit too short. I would have rather been way off instead of getting so close and falling short.

Annie 8-12

I came to the conclusion that I just wasn’t being careful enough. Sure, I had aced the Practice Exercises, but once I get a job in this field that won’t be a good excuse if I fail to code real patients’ diagnoses correctly. I have to consistently code correctly or I will be in for a rude awakening. I’ve made the resolution that I really need to focus and take my time when coding. I can’t take for granted the fact that I’ve gotten codes correct in the past.

I’m not going to dwell on this bad grade, I’m going to learn from it and do better (it’s kind of hard to do worse than 79%, haha!) My goal this upcoming week will be to get through Quiz 20 and be confident in my abilities again. Wherever you are in your studies, I hope you are having success and getting some good results from your hard work. Happy studying!

Interview: A Montana Midwife

By: Vanessa

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work for a specialized medical office? Even though midwives cannot bill insurance for every visit, I’d still like to work for a midwife and bill when applicable. Am I ready to work for a midwife? Do I have to study up on how they run their practice? I am full of questions and looking for answers. Let’s see what I can learn from a local midwife in my area.

THE INTERVIEW

VANESSA: Carrie, thank you for your time and for agreeing to be interviewed for my school blog. I’ll briefly introduce myself and explain why we are meeting today. My name is Vanessa and I am a student blogger at At-Home Professions. I enrolled in the Healthcare Documentation Program to learn medical billing and coding, transcription, and the newest ICD-10 coding. I’d like to specialize my training to work for a Midwife.

VANESSA: Could your office use a certified Healthcare Document Specialist to assist with your medical billing, coding, or transcription?

CARRIE: We currently utilize the services of a medical biller, and are extremely happy to NOT have to deal with insurance companies!

VANESSA: How big is your team at work currently?

CARRIE: Just myself and another midwife, and then our biller who is located in Florida.

VANESSA: Do you prefer for the medical billing and coding team to be in the office with you, or work remotely?

CARRIE: Remotely

Vanessa 8-8VANESSA: What has your office done recently to make your patients happier or more comfortable?

CARRIE: Happy, comfortable patients (we call them clients) are our specialty. Midwifery is about meeting families where they are at, on their own terms, and with their specific belief systems and lifestyles in mind. We haven’t implemented anything specific as of late, aside from a few fun gifts.

VANESSA: How do you best keep up with the ever changing demands in the medical field? Are you a member of any organization?

CARRIE: We are members of the Montana Midwives Association, and The North American Registry of Midwives. We complete many hours of continuing education credits on various subjects, and we are always studying.

VANESSA: What small piece of advice can you offer me to prepare me for work as a maternity biller?

CARRIE: Go with the flow!

VANESSA: I appreciate the time you took out of your busy life to answer my questions. I’ve learned a lot from you about working for a midwife, thank you! I am more motivated now to stay focused on learning all that I can from AHP.

What to Consider When Choosing a School

By: Jessica

If you are reading this blog you are either enrolled in school or thinking about going back to school. Have you made any mistakes when it comes to choosing a school or actually going to a school and halfway through realizing that this is definitely not what you are meant to do? What type of mistakes have you made?

There are plenty of mistakes that you or I could make, but there are a lot more tools and resources at our fingertips to help us not make these mistakes. For example, most schools will post videos or blogs on Facebook and their websites so you can actually see how things work. For example, At-Home Professions has a ton of video footage on the site. Plus, they have seminars set up so you can talk to a real person that will answer all your questions, or get you the answers as fast as they can. This seminar presenter has already gone through the courses, so they can explain what it is like to have first-hand experience as a student. That’s my favorite part. Many people who work for At-Home Professions have gone through a course just like me and can relate to the challenges I’m facing.

Another example; you can actually try out Course One for a week and see if this is the course you want to be involved in!

I went to a local college in my area right after high school, and I can honestly tell you that I made the decision to go to that school solely on the fact that over 20 percent of my friends were going to be there. But let me tell you, do not go to a college just because you want to be near your friends from high school. You will meet so many more people in your life, that’s why it’s silly to make such an important decision based on who you know in high school! You may still be friends with your high school friends, but after growing up, I have more friends from post-high school than I do from high school. Make your choice in school after doing as much research as possible. This is a very big, expensive decision, so you want to thoroughly do your homework and choose the right fit for you and not anyone else.

Another mistake to avoid after you’re enrolled is blowing off your work just to go hang out with new friends. If you don’t take the work seriously, you’re probably just wasting your time.

So, let me ask you this: so far in your courses with At-Home Professions do you feel like you fit into the classes? Is there anything that you would like to go back and change? What have you found most challenging about at-home learning so far?

The Code That Changed Everything

By: Annie

There are lots of words used to describe me. In my personal life I am a daughter, sister, cousin, niece, wife, and mother. Professionally I am a student, college graduate, development assistant, former client coordinator, social media specialist and marketing professional. To my friends I am loud, funny (I hope), opinionated, big-hearted, compassionate and understanding. To the world I am a dark-haired, grey-eyed, fairly tall and a little overweight woman. In the Medical Coding world I am an E28.2, among other codes. I pinpoint this specific code because for 8 years this code has affected every aspect of my life.

It started when I was 17. I was a happy, free-spirited senior in high school. I had just begun what was supposed to be the best year of my high school career when I suddenly gained 30 pounds. Since I was in volleyball and exercising regularly my family and I became concerned immediately and I was sent to the doctor. My doctor asked me a few questions and looked over my chart, and not long after I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), although in our ICD-10-CM it is listed under disorder.

My classmates quickly commented on my weight gain, my uncontrollable acne, and presence of unsightly body hair. Being 17 and already quite self-conscious, my confidence plummeted. I did everything I could to lose the weight and I didn’t dare to wear makeup in fear my acne would just increase. At this point in my life, I didn’t even consider that PCOS would threaten my dreams of motherhood; I was just focused on the physical effects of the disorder. E28.2 was “ruining” my life.

Fast forward to age 22. I had been married for a little over a year and had been off birth control for that same amount of time. I hadn’t gotten pregnant so we went to the doctor to see if we could get some medical assistance. Three different doctors told me that our chances of conceiving naturally were dismal at the best. I was heartbroken; we had certainly considered adoption, but my biggest wish was to give my husband the gift of a biological child. At that point E28.2 was crushing my hopes and dreams.

We went through 5 rounds of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) with no luck. At this point I had been pumped so full of different drugs and hormones I was a crazy woman and my body wasn’t handling it well. My hair started drying out at first and then falling out. I was a wreck emotionally and as a result my marriage was rocky to say the least. The whole process was one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. We were told our only hope of having a child of our own would be to start IVF. E28.2 had completely broken me in every way.

I talked to my husband and we decided we were not financially or emotionally ready for IVF so I took a break from all the hormones and started looking into more natural remedies and options. I found a new doctor who changed some of my medications around and three months after my first visit with her I ovulated on my own for the first time in my entire life at the age of 24. The furthest thing from my mind was getting pregnant; my plan was to just be healthy and have a positive mindset until we were able to afford IVF treatments. But that’s exactly what happened. We conceived our miracle baby, as I call her, 100% naturally (with the help of my medications). E28.2 had challenged me, but it did not win.

Annie 8-5

Looking back on this part of my life and knowing what I know now about medical coding, PCOS is just a simple code. It’s a combination of four letters and digits and takes up very little space on a patient’s chart. For people that suffer from PCOS, it isn’t a little thing. It was a huge thing for us and it truly affected every aspect of my life and our marriage.

I will be aware of this as I pursue my career in Medical Coding. Each code I document will be a person and that code is a part of that person’s life. For some it may be a miniscule part of their life, but for others it might be a huge chunk of their life like it was for me. I will not take this perspective for granted, that’s for sure.

I am well on my way in Course 3 and I would guess at this point I’m over halfway done with Course 3. It’s truly been a struggle to memorize all the terms and conditions, but I don’t move forward until I am confident and comfortable with my knowledge of the terms. I hope you are all progressing with your studies successfully as well!

E-Learning Advantages and Disadvantages

By: Vanessa

Are you contemplating whether or not to order the hard copy version of the lesson book? I thought about this often after starting the HDS program with At-Home Professions. I am now on Course Four: Medical Coding II and I will share my experience with e-learning advantages and disadvantages. I decided to study offline via PDF rather than purchase the hard copy lesson books, assignment packs, and materials.

Vanessa 8-2

The entire program is accessible to every student online, but we have many options available to us. We can, of course, study online, or purchase the hard copy lesson book and materials for each class for an additional fee, or download to an eBook reader or PDF format. Since the internet is not necessarily a safe place, I study offline using my PDF lesson book, assignment pack, and materials. I trust At-Home Professions is a safe website to visit so I do sign-on to briefly cover the lesson again and then take the quiz.

I can personally say with confidence that it is possible to learn by electronic means rather than paper if someone wants to save money, be eco-friendly, and adapt to the work-at-home environment.

E-LEARNING ADVANTAGES

While learning online, you are already adapting to the remote world of working online. If you can easily navigate the online course, PDF lesson book, assignment pack and materials, then working virtually should come easy to you as well. In other words, if I can stare at a computer all day, read and scroll through files online or offline, minimize or maximize windows, use the two screen feature, and navigate between files and programs, then I know that I can definitely work remotely because I will be able to complete all aspects of healthcare documentation without ever touching the physical patient file. Adapting is an advantage.

Who else likes to save money besides me? If you don’t buy the hard copy version for an additional cost, then you can save up to $150 dollars throughout the program. Saving money is essentially the reason why I chose to study electronically.

Convenience is also a benefit to e-learning because I download the lesson and materials to a USB drive to save space in my home office. By using a USB drive, excess data is not stored on my computer. Also, the USB is small and sits nicely on a hook on my Healthcare Document Specialist tray.

Are you eco-friendly like me? Downloading the materials and opting out of the hard copy lesson is a way for students to reduce their carbon footprint.

E-LEARNING DISADVANTAGES

I haven’t come across any disadvantages to learning electronically, but I will give this section fair consideration…… Okay, I still can’t think of any disadvantages to e-learning.

For those who are contemplating whether or not to purchase the lesson book, I hope this blog helps you decide. I always felt comfortable starting out with the PDF version because I knew that if I really wanted, I could always purchase the hard copy later. Thankfully, the important matter- the diagnostic and procedural coding manuals are delivered right to our door step. How do you learn?