With an aging population and ongoing health problems, the medical field is constantly expanding to meet the growing need. When most people think of jobs in healthcare, they automatically think of doctors and nurses, techs and aides. What they may not realize is that there is a successful medical program, featuring graduates that never set foot inside an emergency room, treatment facility or doctor’s office. The best part? You can go to school for it here in the mountains and stay here at home to work.
Judith Fields got into the medical information field back in the 1980s. She’s still doing it today, because it’s something she loves, something she’s made a career out of.
“Medical Coding is a career, it’s not a job. It’s all like one big puzzle. Coders look at doctor’s diagnoses and work to make all of the pieces fit into place. It’s pretty interesting to see how it all works once it comes together,” Fields said.
Fields is the instructor for the Medical Coding program at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. She says she has had some amazing students over the years, many of whom have gone on to successful jobs, making good money. Fields says while the program starts with graduates getting a certificate, it doesn’t end there.
“A lot of people when they find out when they get into the program that there is more to it than just coming to class and graduating with that certificate at the end of the semester. All of our students continue to study hard, going on to earn national coding certifications so they can work anywhere,” Fields said.
According to the American Association of Professional Coders, a coder can make anywhere from $48,000 a year all the way up to almost $70,000 a year with additional certifications.
Many of the graduates of the Southeast program have chosen to stay in the region, keeping money and jobs here at home.
Several of those graduates work at the Appalachian Regional Healthcare hospital in Harlan. All of the coders we talked to all come from different backgrounds, but agree on one thing. They love their work as coders.
“The coding program was a much needed stepping stone to my future, to a new career, to a path that I chose. It allows me to work from home and to go wherever I need to go and still have a working mentality. It’s nice to be able to control my environment,” Victoria Cox, a graduate from the SKCTC program said.
Not all coders have to work at a hospital or healthcare facility. Some work from home. Most coders work during the day and are off on weekends and holidays. Some of the students already had other jobs, but loved the coding classes so much, they switched over.
“I have a background in billing and that’s what piqued my interest in the medical coding program. I just started coding and I absolutely love it.”
The next round of classes will start in January on the Middlesboro campus. The program rotates to a different campus every semester. If you are interested in taking classes on in the Medical Coding program by calling Fields at 606-664-2644 or by emailing her at [email protected]