Inna Shklyar Interview

I came to United States in April, 2002 from Russia. I was pretty lucky and found a job on the 12th day of my being in USA. I had a Master’s Degree in Dairy Production back in Russia and found a job with the Dairy Manufacturing Company in Chicago. It took almost 3 years of my life to realize that this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Why were you interested in medical coding training?

When I made a decision to change the job I asked myself what else can I do here, in the USA? I was 39 years old: I did not feel like going to any prolonged educational program, I knew very little about computer, and I could not provide a perfect customer service on the phone (I have a very strong Russian Accent). Medical Billing looked pretty suitable: education would take 2 – 6 month depending on the program, I would work in the office, with some computer software as a user (not programmer), and phone conversation would be occasional, not on a regular basis.

How did you choose the medical coding program you attended?

I was searching internet, looking thru Russian newspapers, asking my friends. The following information was taken into consideration: the cost of education (of course), duration of courses and school location. Finally, I found a school that was pretty close to my home.

What did you like about the program?

We were a very nice, small group of 6 women who wanted to change something in their lives. Our teacher had a perfect sense of humor and deep working knowledge of the subject. She gave us a lot: not only the knowledge of the billing software, CPT and ICD-9, super bills, Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurances. She helped with resumes, typing skills, explained the culture of a phone conversation, and how to handle interviews. It was very helpful and it was a good time…

What did you not like about the program?

Personally, I hated the language of medical terminology. You have to remember so many words, that you almost never use. I forgot most of them as soon as I finished my school.

What types of jobs did you and your fellow classmates get after completing the training? How much did these jobs pay?

At first, I work for a phlebotomy laboratory. It was more like a data entry. I was given some rules for adding ICD-9 codes to CPT codes. I was supposed to be very accurate and that is it. I had nothing to think about. Very easy, but very boring. $10.00 per/hour.

Later, I found a job with an ultrasound clinic. For this company I did a full cycle billing: from the very beginning to the very end. Much more interesting and I earned from $16.00- $20.00 per/hour.

This is what happened with my fellow classmates: two of them are working for a doctor’s offices, one for a billing company, one works for a phone assembling company and works with QuickBooks (not exactly medical billing, as you can see), and the last one gave a birth to a baby.

What was the total cost for your medical coding program?


How did you pay for your medical coding program?

Cash, 3 installments, no interest paid.

What advice would you give to students regarding paying for their medical coding training?

If you can obtain any financing without paying an interest-get it. If you can pay in full and the offered financing requires any interest to be paid, pay in full. Choose financing with an interest only if you do not have any other choice.

What things should a student look for when choosing a medical coding program?

Per my experience, the quality of education depends more on your personal effort and work than on the program itself. You should choose what is best for you: if you are young and thinking about career, choose a program that offers credit classes and formal education to obtain an Associate Degree. If you just need to put something on your resume, choose less expensive, more convenient and short in length classes, as I did.

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