I Need a New Career

MizAnnThropeFebruary 9, 2013

I'd like to start over and do something different.

I've been reading that medical records/technology is a burgeoning field. Does anyone have any experience in this field that can attest to this?

I can't do anything epic, along the lines of an Oprah or More magazine makeover. I'm in my late 40s, so I'm not about to undertake a new "big" career, i.e., become a veterinarian, doctor, engineer, pilot, or do something too physical. Can't start my own business - no funds for that.

Don't mind getting more education, but I'm not willing to take on a lot of debt. I love to learn, though, and am a quick study, so not at all averse to acquiring a whole new set of skills. I'm not destitute, but self supporting since my divorce, so earning a somewhat decent living is necessary.

Of course, I'd love to be an artist or a rock star, but those ships have sailed. ;)

There's a diverse group on this forum, so I thought it might be interesting to tap into your experience. Do you have firsthand info on an area that is growing? What would you do if you were to start over, and why?

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I work at a non-profit medical clinic. I guess it really depends on what aspect you are interested in.

Right now we are in the process of converting all our records over to electronic form. Clinicians will enter records directly, eliminating much of the work done by support staff. Almost no one uses dictation/transcription anymore, although

Where will the new jobs come from? The technology side. And even there, most of those jobs will be on the development and implementation side, done mostly by IT people with some understanding of the industry. I doubt many clinics or hospitals will be adding to their own IT departments, because the new systems will come prepackaged. Yes, there will be training to be done, but after the first big flurry, things will settle down. Many of the previous support jobs will be eliminated.

On the other hand, as the laws and insurance requirements (especially Medicare) become more stringent, compliance becomes a big issue. Making sure the medical providers use the correct codes for the services they provide so that billing stands up to audit is very important. Many medical staff find all these regulations and details to be an irritation and a hindrance to good medical care. To enjoy this job, you would really have to like detail work, regulations, and herding cats. And have a very high threshold for frustration.

So, I see the real growth on the development and implementation side. The developers will need good training teams and, of course, good programmers, analysts, etc. But as far as this change increasing staffing at local medical offices, I don't see it.

But this comes from my relatively limited perspective.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:01AM
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Sorry -- I left a sentence hanging, and can't remember what I was about to say!

One other thing: Many hospitals and clinics are having a hard time making ends meet; some are suffering lay-offs. I don't know what the prognosis is going forward, but around here the opinion seems to be that the future is not especially bright. I think that the best area to concentrate your efforts would be on the IT development and training side.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:46AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

My gf has been in medical support field her whole life....no longer doing medical transcriptions she's now the desk person at a cancer treatment area in a hospital where she works for a doc part time and is per diem part time involved in scheduling for radiation treatments. I think the patient-facing positions will continue to be in demand. But those positions can be emotionally challenging as you get to know so many patients who come for treatment...and then come no more. Very sad.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:47AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

If you want to get a sense of which occupations are going to be in demand as well as what each position consists of doing, check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook put out by the BLS...interesting and thorough

Here is a link that might be useful: Occ Out Hndbk

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:49AM
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What's your experience so far? I can certainly understand not wanting to continue doing whatever it is you're doing now -- but you don't want to have to start over *from scratch* in your late 40's when you've got skills that are transferable. A back-step or two followed by a side-step with a clear path forward is so much better.

What do you like doing? (Especially things that most people are bad at or dislike.)
What do you do better than anyone else?
What kind of paper qualifications can you bring to the table?
Social and professional network?

Yeah, there are some opportunities in medical technology, but there are also a lot of low-skilled dead ends with virtually no employment benefits. The kind of jobs you see advertised on daytime TV "Work with doctors!" generally aren't what they sound like; and anything you can train for in under two years is a field that's likely never to pay well, since barriers to entry are low. And sad to say, historically female occupations chronically underpay.

For what it's worth, not all entrepreneurial ventures require a lot of start-up capital. Mine cost almost nothing...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 12:49PM
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I was surprised to find that RN's only require a 2-year degree and do quite well on the pay scale, comparable to those with 4-year degrees. I'm also surprised to hear there are layoffs and slim opportunities in the HC field since it's promoted as being one of the most stable and growing areas to enter.

What is it that draws you to medical records? It sounds terribly boring and monotonous. I always like to be learning something on the job.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:10PM
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What is your current background/education level? That would help.

Health care careers are stable, and I would recommend perhaps two-year programs in nursing or physical and occupational therapy assistant programs. However, not everyone is cut out for a health care career that involves patient contact, and you have to do well in the sciences. Even still, PTA and OTA programs are extremely competitive, and there can be waitlists to get in.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:41PM
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Before I had my twins I taught nursing at our community college.

We had both an LPN and ADN programs.

You can become an LPN in 1 yr. Lots of jobs and pretty darn good pay. Then you can continue your education and become an RN while working as an LPN. The other option of course is the ADN program which will take about 3 yrs with the prerequisites.

My best students were often the older students. They knew what they wanted and they didn't fool around.

Just an option. Nursing is a great career.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 1:50PM
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With the increase of modern medical knowledge, more babies are saved but left disabled. Special Ed consists of about 40% of our public school budget. Then there is prevocational and vocational training needs when they age out of school.

You may want to look into that industry...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:00PM
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I would looove to do Special Ed. I thought it took advanced degrees?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:26PM
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Snook, head out toward the adult segment. Lots of jobs exist for people without degrees.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:31PM
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With that screen name, I'm not sure if nursing or special ed would be the best career path. :-)

Actually, I was also going to recommend Nursing, if you have the stomach and skill set. There are so many directions you can go with nursing: hospitals, drs office, insurance companies, school districts. But it isn't for everyone.

There is increasing need for special ed but programs keep getting cut and eliminated causing greater competition for the existing jobs. Maybe as the need increases more jobs will be available? Like nursing, it isn't for everyone.

Your local community college would be a good source to discover what fields are growing in your area and what programs they have to meet that need.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:31PM
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Really, that's interesting. When I poked around, advanced degrees seemed to be required. Of course, everyone seems to be asking for degrees these days, even for secretaries, which is understandable but still surprising.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Do you have a college degree? That is all that is needed in some states to be a substitute teacher.
I know someone who has made a career out of this. She has to call a number and it will list what jobs are available for the next day. Teachers are supposed to be sick, so that is why they are posting at the last minute.
What it good about this is that you can work every day or not. Take time off when you want etc.
I don't even think you need your degree in education. Of course, you have to like being around children.
You might even be able to work with Special Ed as suggested and this population might interest you.
My sister is a PTA and from what I am hearing, there are more PTA programs than ever before and they are churning out graduates at a record number. Annie's advise about looking at outlooks is a good one. But, I think things also depend on h=where you are.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 4:00PM
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I substitute teach and have a BSW. Without a teaching degree, I can only do middle and high schools. I HAVE subbed in the special needs classroom and had no prior experience with that population of people. I found that I really enjoyed it. In Iowa, you have to take a substitute authorization class.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 4:17PM
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Thank you all!
I'm not really drawn to the medical field, more the tech side.
Great link, Annie, thank you.
Sweeby, what is your business?
Snookums, that is my fear - that it would be too boring.
Yes, HHireno, name is telling. I volunteer and have lots of friends, but that's all on my terms. I don't think I could be a teacher or nurse, esp after hearing stories and seeing burnout of friends in these professions.
I love technology, but am afraid that I couldn't compete with young students as far as programming, bc they have way more time and energy to devote to honing those skills. I looked at systems analyst, but depending on the day, news stories indicate the job market seems to be in need, or saturated.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:41AM
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I'm in the medical records field, but not the tech side, so I don't know if what I do will interest you. I work as an inpatient coder for a large hospital. It's a great job if you're okay with sitting at a desk all day, have an interest in the medical field and work well alone (most of us work from home now). I went back to school in my early 40's and got my associates in Health Information Technology. There were a couple of young people in my class, but most of use were older, which made me feel alot better about going back to school. The majority of people with my degree go into coding, but there's many other opportunities within the field. If you decide it's something you might be interested in, go to ahima.org and look for an accredited program. There's a lot of courses out there that cost a lot of money and claim you can get a job after a short amount of training. My hospital won't even interview someone that hasn't attended an AHIMA accredited program.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:56AM
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Are you willing to travel? If so you might look into an implementation position with a healthcare IT vendor. These positions usually don't require deep technical knowledge, more an interest and aptitude in using it. Do you have a college degree? At our company that would be a minimum requirement.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:12AM
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I don't know if you need benefits or are flexible on hours, but I am always impressed by how much tutors are paid. Where I am in CT, it is common to pay $80 an hour for an in-home tutor, and this can be as early as elementary school. I guess it might be more for SAT prep and the like. Of course, you usually have to work after school, so you may not like the hours.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:37AM
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If I could start over? I'd move abroad. When I was in college, I was all set to teach English in Taiwan after graduation, but then my uncle died and I decided life was too short to live away from family.

So, if family doesn't keep you here, travel and explore.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:43AM
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About six months ago, I needed a second job and started working with a company located in another state scanning medical records. They provide the equipment and a route and reimburse for any expenses. Most of the time it's part time and fairly flexible but there are full time positions available as well depending on where you are. The scanning we do is to ensure any documents provided to other agencies are HIPAA compliant.

If you're interested in learning more, you can send me an email privately via the site and I'll be happy to answer any questions if you're interested.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 11:49AM
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Lukkiirish...I sent you an email.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:56PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I am a medical transcriptionist. It is a dying field and part of it's demise is likely to be attributed to technology. Voice recognition technology is lessening the need for transcriptionists as is outsourcing (much, much, much transcription goes to India). Electronic Medical Records (EMR) is also doing much to replace transcriptionists. My guess is with these new changes, there will be an increased need for tech for a time, but I would try to be flexible enough that when the need slackens, you are ready and employable for something else. I would be surprised if my job lasts another 10 years.

As far as coding, many transcriptionists have been leaving the field and trying to get jobs as coders (with appropriate schooling) and the word is that many are having a difficult time as they have no experience.

The questions I would ask right now would be are you looking for some way to just make money or are you looking for something fulfilling too? If you want something fulfilling, what fulfills you, is it helping/serving other or the mental challenge/stimulation? Of course, those do not need to be mutually exclusive. The other question is a question of outside contact. Do you want something working at home where you do not have to deal with people as much or do you feed off of interaction with others?

I can tell you, when my kids grow up (12 years before the last finishes high school) I am considering going to get a master's in social work, but I have time to decide.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 7:13PM
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I'm not sure how much longer coding as a separate job will be around, either. Our clinicians will all be doing the coding themselves as they enter their office notes.

However, making sure they understand and comply with the coding standards will still be a viable job, at least for the immediate future!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 7:24PM
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I'm a few years older than you and started over by going to law school four years ago when my job as a journalist ended as part of the newspaper industry's downward spiral.

It's been a great experience for me, but I would never recommend law unless a person is totally driven to be an attorney, and/or has a marketable background that is enhanced by a J.D., and can do so without accumulating a lot of debt. The market is saturated and there are too many people who go to law school because they have unrealistic expectations about their earning potential, don't know what else to do with their lives, or can't find a job after undergrad decide to stay in school and postpone the inevitable.

I know several women who were laid off from other careers and went to a local community college to earn a paralegal certificate. Although experienced/stand-out paralegals still seem to be in demand, the inexperienced ones I know are having a difficult time finding jobs. Plus, unemployed attorneys are vying for paralegal positions because they're so desperate to find work. In the end, it might be an option depending on your background and the market in your area.

I'd suggest first figuring out what you love and are good at, and then how to make money doing it.

As a little inspiration, I've linked to an Alan Watts talk/video a friend posted recently on FB. I wish someone had shared the insights with me 30 years ago.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alan Watts - What if money were no object?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 8:41PM
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Have you seen attached article? Very interesting . . .

Here is a link that might be useful: law school

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 1:34PM
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Snookums, it depends on the state if you need B.S. or M.S./M.A.T for teaching. Where I work you only need B.S., but masters will get you more money.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 7:43PM
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