As I mentioned some weeks ago, I recently received my nursing certificate that I had been working on for some time. This was a huge milestone in my life, and I have already started benefitting in my job (I recently enjoyed a nice little pay bump). I’ve had a few of my readers here ask about how I got started in nursing and asking if there is any advice I would offer to those interested in making the leap into the medical field. Here’s my story.
Most people actually don’t know this about me, but my first introduction into the field of medicine was shortly after I had just graduated from high school. I got a part time job as a receptionist for a local chiropractor and while I was working there, the billing person in our office came down with a terminal illness and was not able to continue employment with us. We were unable to promptly find someone to replace her and so I was forced to quickly start figuring out the billing side of the business. Most of our patients were billed through insurance and I cannot describe the headache that I first encountered while trying to figure it all out. Lucky for the provider I was working for, not only am I a quick learner, but I can read anything. I found a textbook entitled “Step-By-Step Medical Coding” by Carol J. Buck, and I plowed through the material as quickly as a I could. Since I was completely new to medical billing and it can be a very technical subject, I actually had to read through the text a few times before I really understood everything.
To make a long story as short as possible, I quickly learnt enough to get by. My boss at the time saw my potential and offered to pay for me to get a coding certificate offered by a nearby community college if I continued working for him for a minimum amount of time. I took the deal and became proficient as a coder. A couple of years after I got my coding certificate, I left that chiropractor’s office to work for a hospital who was willing to pay me much more. I was actually making some really good money in the billing department (You can check HERE to see the salary range for medical billers and coders), but after working very closely with the nurses in the hospital and seeing the changes they were making in others’ lives, I felt “called” to become a nurse myself.
Everyone has their own talents and abilities, but here is the advice I would give someone looking into having a career in the medical field: Go the medical billing route first! You can get your foot in the door much easier that way and you can also get a really good feel for what to expect from other jobs within the field. For anyone wanting to learn about medical coding on their own, I highly suggest “Step-By-Step” textbook. It’s not an easy read by any means, but when it comes to coding you won’t find an easy read. It will, however, give you all of the information you need in a very organized format. Although it might take a few readings, it can help you learn virtually everything you need to know.