My Career Step: Debi Hammond

Debi Hammond

Debi's Goals

  • Be available at home to take care of her sons
  • Contribute to her family's income without compromising her responsibilities at home

Benefits of her Career Step Education

  • Real-world experience in the course that prepared her for certification and the workplace
  • The support needed to get through the course and working
  • Securing her “dream job”—an enjoyable career from home

Discovering My Adventure

I have three sons and have always taken pride in doing something from home to help support our family—tax preparation during the tax season, childcare, etc.—in order to be at home with my boys. My youngest son has special needs, and I need to be available for doctor appointments, therapies, and activities at school. As my boys have gotten older, I have not needed to be home as much, but I still did not want to go to work every day with all my responsibilities at home.

I came upon the Career Step Medical Coding course quite by accident. A few years ago, a good friend of mine for whom I was doing childcare mentioned in passing that I should take a class in medical transcription or medical billing in order to work from home. I said “Yeah, yeah,” and that was the end of it. However, one day the newspaper included a booklet from our local community college. As I was flipping through it, I saw an ad for an online distance learning course through the local college in partnership with Career Step. It was a new program, and the community college offered both Medical Transcription and Medical Coding. My husband told me to call and check it out, but I was really hesitant because here I was over 50 and just thinking about going back to school.

I did make that call, and the career counselor took my information and said she would get back to me if and when the program started. After a few weeks, I got a phone call and everything was set up. I paid for my class and waited for my information and books to arrive. I have to admit that I had second thoughts while I was waiting! The books arrived—really big books. Then I got an email that led me through setting everything up and accessing the course material, and off I went on my new adventure!

Journeying Through the Program

I flew through the first half of the course; it was soooo easy—little did I know what was to come in the second half! Learning all the coding guidelines took some time as did retaking quizzes and tests, but the platform was very easy to use. It was just a lot of information to put into this old brain. All along the way, the Career Step support advisors were there to answer questions and lend their support, making concepts that seemed so complicated much easier to understand. I also found the Career Step student forum and used it to connect with others who were having the same problems and successes as me.

The practicum (the practical section of the course) was long and grueling—I had more do-overs at the beginning than I have ever had in my entire life—but then, all of a sudden, things started to make sense the more practice I got. I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I passed my final exam with high honors and scheduled a time to take my CPC (Certified Professional Coder) exam about a month later. The skills I learned through Career Step—especially all the real-life practice in the practicum—as well as a very good study guide I purchased helped me achieve my goal of passing the CPC exam on the first try.

My Adventure After Graduation

After getting my CPC-A (Certified Professional Coder – Apprentice), I started to apply for any and every job that was even remotely related to medical coding, as my Career Step support advisor had recommended. I brushed off and polished up my resume and had my Career Step advisor check it over for me. I also had a graduate consultation with my advisor and got pointers on where to look for employment as well as tips for the interviewing process. Career Step’s policy of supporting graduates after graduation was immensely helpful. I could call or email my advisor anytime and get answers to my questions or just have someone to commiserate with about the lack of coding opportunities for new grads.

Ultimately, it was my advisor who let me know about a company that was looking for high honors graduates to test for remote coding work. I sent my information to the contact person and followed up with several phone calls over the next few months. I eventually gave up on the lead and after thinking nothing would come of it, I took a position working second shift, of all things. Upon coming home late one night, I sat down to check my e-mail and was about to delete my entire spam box when a company name popped out at me. It was the company my advisor had told me about—and they wanted me to test for a radiology position with them! I have now been working for them remotely—my dream job—for about nine months and love every day.

Coding is the best job for me. I love the challenge it offers, reading a report and having to research to find out the correct diagnosis codes, and I love the flexibility of being able to take my job with me wherever I need to be.

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