Education programs....I need to vent! (kinda long...)

doucanoeJanuary 18, 2011

In a nutshell...I would like to go back to school for Medical Coding.

In November I met with an admissions counselor at a local college that is very reputable. As much as I would love to enroll, they will only accept 24 of my 80 college credits which means for this program I would need to earn 62 more credits to earn a 2 year degree. At $420 per credit I simply am not sure I can or want to go that far into debt at my age.

The week before Xmas I called (twice) the program director at a local technical college that offers a certificate program and left a message. I also e-mailed (twice) the head of an online school that was recommended by a friend of mine that graduated from their transcription program. I have not gotten a reply from either of these institutions.

I finally reached someone at the technical college today from their admissions office. He tried to answer some of my questions, and told me that they only offer about 50% of their classes online and I would have had to start at the beginning of the quarter (2 weks ago). I told him I had left a couple of messages with hopes of doing just that but had not gotten a response.

So now I have missed the beginning of Spring quarter and if I enroll there I could not begin there until April or May.

I thiught maybe I could find an online school that I could do lessons around my own schedule, where I am not bound by quarter and semester start times, where I can start when I want and work at my own (reasonable) pace. The one recommended by my friend and also the expensive school had that option.

However, looking at online schools I just don't know how to figure out which schools are good and which are not. I went on the AHIMA site and they linked to a few schools, but none have an online program that will fit my needs, and they also link to the expensive school I mentioned earlier.

When did it become so damn difficult to try to get an educaton?


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Congratulations on your efforts to go back to school!

I feel your pain and it's not just your schools with staffs who seem inept. My DH is the head coach at a local college. This year he has give scholarships to 24 student athletes. With no exaggeration, he is spending 3 hours a day dealing with getting his athletes registered. These kids and their parents call him at all hours in tears; much of the day and night he is texting them; he has to go to the college several times a week trying to get transcripts accepted and books released and dorms made available.

He is stilled owed $$ from a scouting trip he took July, 2010. He had to...well I could go on and on but that won't help you! Just know that you are not along in your frustration.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 6:31PM
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When I went back to school one year ago last week, some of it was paid for by stimulus $$$$ and also some free class and test vouchers from Microsoft. I had considered medical coding. A friend who I've lost touch with did that from home for few years before she retired I believe she took the program online. She used to work where I do.

Speaking of medical coding - this will make you laugh. A few years ago I had a doctor's appt for something - I don't remember what. The nurse looked at my record to see something from my previous visit. The coder had typed a code she was not familiar with so she looked it up. The diagnosis for that code was edema of the male organ............I swear I'm not making it up! We laughed so hard. That nurse retired at the end of 2010. My doctor told me that when asked to recall some of her more memorable moments in her 23 years with the clinic - the edema of the male organ was one that still made her laugh!

What do you do for a living now Linda?


    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 8:45PM
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Teresa I work part time for two medical centers. Front desk/scheduling work mostly. I used to work in Radioligy as a scheduler and I really liked that but unfortunately as people lost their jobs and consequently their medical insurance they started putting off many of those procedures.

Hours got cut so I found another part time job at the other facility. I don't really care for it, but it's a job.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 8:38AM
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I have worked off and on for a community college for three years. First of all, when colleges are not in session, you will not find anyone "home" to answer your inquiries. Unfortunately you have to plan quite a bit ahead to register. Christmas break is quite long, my colleg is only just starting. You might try to late enroll, I know colleges do that.
Understand that colleges too are being caught by budget crunches, particularly trade schools and technical colleges that get a lot of state funding. Our enrollment went up 15% but our budget was cut and we laid off people. Many secretaries (the folks who answer the phones). Also, when full time secretaries retire, they are most often replaced by part time people.
Keep looking and asking around, because every college is different. For example, I was thinking about getting my medical tech certificate at my local community college, and when I finally talked to a counselor, she said that while the degree was on the books they didn't have very many students and often didn't run the classes. Not good. Then I checked my college, and they had a reciprocal program with a local university, and when I checked the University's web site I could get a MASTERS degree in med. tech. in about the same time as I could get the certificate, obviously a FAR better way to spend the money.
Some classes were free, depending on the state. But those programs are getting cut too.
I say wait and do the local community college with the online program and the good reputation. You will not regret waiting.
Get with a counselor and then a financial aide advisor. Keep pestering them, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Find their E-mail addresses, then you have a record of how many times they ignored you, and call every day. It is quite possible that you may qualify for financial aide or may be able to get scholarships. Since you're only working part time, make this your other part time job--finding a good program and most important, getting financial aide and/or a student loan.
"Summer" semesters might be an option for you, they actually start in the spring.
The whole college credit thing is a complete racket, don't get me started on that. And you don't even want to know about teacher certification. You can pay hundreds of dollars to get certified in one state, and then move and have to jump thru all the hoops and pay all the fees all over again.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 9:00AM
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Just want to say that that sucks. Navigating the red tape at any larger institution these days is one big headache. LPink has good advice. As you probably know, you have to do things on the college's schedule, not yours.

Stick with it! It's worth it in the end. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 9:29AM
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Before you enroll in any college, you may ask around (and you probably already have) about the possibility of actually getting a job doing what you're studying for. I've spoken with people that are losing their transcription jobs to, you guessed it, overseas. Yes, medical transcribing is being outsourced. I don't know about medical coding, but it's worth checking out before spending all that time and money learning to do it. Of course, I hope I'm completely wrong about this, as I've only talked with a couple of people that had this happen to them.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 11:46AM
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Oh sorry Linda, giving advice is my way of "helping" which is not always "helful" when you just want to vent. It does totally suck. Colleges are being hit with unprecidented demands and the landscape for them is rapidly changing, with online and retraining and students looking for more value for their education bucks. Colleges are scrambling to keep up. Some are doing it better than others. If you can find one that is doing it well. Sadly, some good programs have terrible administration, since each department in a college is a country unto itself. Again, some are better than others at collaborating and thinking outside the box. Keep trying, don't get discouraged!! (Ask me how I know, lol! I am bumbling towards either another Masters degree or a doctorate, I've spent a lot of time at various colleges in the past couple of years). You have to get their attention somehow!! Also, if you can just find/reach ONE professional person who is on the ball they can really move things forward for you in an amazingly expedient way, if you can just FIND the right person who knows what to do. That's the battle!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 11:51AM
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Great advice Lpink, thanks! Kinda puts it in perspective.

Sally, I know of several transcriptionists that are either out of work or have had their hours/pay cut. Outsourcing overseas is really hurting our country and I hate it!

I have been told by a number of people at the medical centers I work for that Medical coding is not likely to be outsourced. They predict better than average growth in the field. Another significant factor is that they are revamping the entire coding process and some people feel that those who are abe will retire when the new codes are implemented rather than go back to school to re-learn their jobs.

I'll figure it out, it's just frustrating. I don't recall this much red tape when I was a student years ago.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 4:11PM
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Linda, welcome to the wonderful world of college classes. Ugh.

I've had a constant battle with both of the girls, getting them into classes, having classes be "unavailable" but required for the degree, so it takes an extra semester to get to the degree, and it's expensive.

Amanda got her degree in special education but has been a stay at home Mom. Now she needs to take a bunch of new classes because her old credits have "expired". In less than 5 years! She just went and took a CNA class instead, it was shorter, cheaper and there's more work. Sheesh.

Good luck, I think Lpink is right, go with the Community College with good credentials. Elery's daughter did on-line classes with Montana State University, and it was a nightmare. Plus it was astoundingly expensive. Go local, so when they screw it up you can actually stand on their doorstep and raise heck!


    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 10:28PM
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I've taken some classes at the local Community College, since they transfer to my current 4 year school and are much cheaper and closer to home. While the classes themselves have been wonderful - great professors, good texts, lots of support, great schedule, dealing with the administrative process is a NIGHTMARE.

Seriously, no one in administration ever picks up a phone or returns a phone call or email. Ever. Even when I go there in person, unless you get the rare staff member who knows what they're doing, there's a good chance something will be screwed up. I just sent in a letter to try and get transcripts sent somewhere and I'm sending all the positive thoughts I can that this will go smoothly. I may double order, just in case. Even the information desk staff is rude and grumpy.

At the 4 year school in which I'm also enrolled, staff is a dream. Very helpful, kind and completely competent.

I've also taken online courses, one from a school in Utah - Weber State University. It was a biochem class with lab and it was outstanding. Great class, and while the registration process took a little navigating, it ended up fine.

Thankfully, I'm almost done with this process.

So, yes, I feel your pain. In a big, big way.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 8:28AM
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It's good, Linda, that there are still jobs like that here.

My son has had all kinds of problems working the red tape with going to school on the GI bill. Yes, it's a wonderful perk to have after serving in the Navy, but he's had lots of problems matching up what he can take that qualifies for the GI bill. He attempted college before joining the Navy, and failed miserably. Now, there's some classes he failed previously that he wants to re-take to bring his GPA up. He was in the middle of a semester when he found out a class he was taking wasn't covered, because he had it 5 or 10 years ago. He had to drop the class, and re-work his degree plan completely. He's dealing with the college people and the navy people, and they don't always communicate or agree. Frustrating.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 10:44AM
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I'm just a lurker, and I realize that you don't "know" me, but I figured I'd add my 2 cents' worth.

DH works at a community college, and, as mentioned, enrollment is going up while staffing is going down. It is only going to get worse.

My only suggestion is that you maybe take some time to research the passing rates for the CCS and CPC (I think those are the two) exams from all of the schools you are considering. I do know that in most of the country, new coders are not being hired without passing certification tests first, and even then sometimes it's hard to be hired without the 2 years of experience. So, I think that the passing rates for each of the schools is crucial to know.

If you have not investigated the Andrews School, I have only heard good things about them, both for transcription and coding. Linda Andrews is the owner, and she's pretty on the ball.

Good luck. Oh, and I don't have any personal knowledge of coders, but I am a working transcriptionist, so most of my coding knowledge is only peripheral.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 7:52PM
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Mandie, Good advice about checking the passing rates. Never thought of that.

I didn't want to mention names, but Andrews is one of the schools I have not heard back from. It's the school recommended by my transcriptionist friend.

I have e-mailed Linda Andrews twice (once in December and once about two weeks ago). I've gotten no response from her or anyone at Andrews.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:35AM
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Ugh, having problems posting this morning!

Linda, if you're still interested, I would try phoning Linda next week. It's not normal for her to not respond to an email. I did see on her website that she mentions that often the results from the pre-program testing can get sent to spam folders, so maybe that's what is happening? I don't know. If nothing else, maybe her answering machine will yield come clues.

I did see that she has some good information about the certification exams on her website as well.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:04PM
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