As a Medical Billing and Coding Graduate, Stephan Jamora Delivers Patient Care, By the Numbers
Stephan Jamora learned a life-changing lesson during the three years he worked at a Stockton, California tire store.
“I learned that I no longer wanted to work in a tire store!” says Jamora, 24. “While I actually enjoyed interacting with the public, I can definitely say that automotive retail is not my passion.”
But discovering what he didn’t want to do has helped propel Jamora on a path toward a career he enjoys.
“For a long time, I thought I’d become a nurse,” he says. “When I was 14, I helped care for my mother during her cancer treatment. I later attended San Joaquin Delta College to complete some of my general education requirements before applying to nursing school. I studied for the nursing school entry exam, but I failed it twice because I didn’t have a solid foundation or a strong working knowledge of medical terminology. I realized I needed to go back to school and gain some experience in the healthcare field.”
Jamora’s aunt, who works as a medical biller and coder for a major hospital, suggested he could gain that experience by pursuing a career in Medical Billing and Coding. Around the same time, another relative mentioned that she had just toured Carrington College’s Stockton campus to learn more about the school’s Massage Therapy program. While on campus, she noticed that Medical Billing and Coding was among the programs Carrington offered. She told Jamora, who scheduled an appointment at the school the following day. After learning more about the certificate program, which features five six-week terms, he enrolled on the spot—and started classes the following week.
The Medical Billing and Coding program, which is offered at 16 Carrington campuses in seven states, provides students with the specialized skills and knowledge they need to successfully perform medical coding and process medical insurance billing and claims within the health care setting. Class instruction combines theory and practice to help students develop the competencies required to become a medical biller and coder. Students learn to accurately interpret medical records and code the information for submission to insurance companies.
In March, Jamora was halfway through his program when the coronavirus pandemic changed everything—including the way he and his fellow students would complete their studies.
“I went from attending classes on campus five nights a week to remote learning,” Jamora explains. “It was a big adjustment at first, because I really like the energy and interaction that happens in the classroom. I share a house with my fiancé and a housemate, and all three of us suddenly found ourselves either working or attending school from home. We created a home office and coordinated a schedule. Every weeknight between 6:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., for example, the office was mine. We worked together and did our best to adapt to the situation.”
Since the tire store where he was working was considered an essential service, Jamora also continued working part-time, six mornings a week. It was a stressful, demanding stretch, but one he now realizes had a silver lining.
“The whole experience taught me how to be more disciplined and focused,” Jamora says. “I adapted to online learning pretty quickly. I’m very detail oriented, and I take a lot of pride is doing things correctly. I also love a challenge, and there are times during class when I felt like a detective, working to analyze and understand a coding issue. There’s so much more to the field than I ever would have imagined.”
During his final semester, Jamora did an externship at Sierra Health Services, a company that specializes in providing anesthesia and other medical billing services to office and hospital based medical practices and ambulatory surgery centers throughout the United States.
“My externship is where I was able to start applying in a real-world setting what I’d learned in class,” says Jamora. “Last month, at the end of my five-week externship, Sierra offered me a full-time job. I was thrilled—and I was also grateful to be able to give notice at the tire store. I really feel like my hard work and commitment have paid off, and that the program has provided a fast track to a new career.”
Jamora is currently working in the company’s data entry department, inputting numerical codes specified by coders so that patients and insurance companies reviewing bills for medical procedures and services can more clearly understand the charges. “It’s a great place for me to start,” he says.
While Jamora believes Medical Billing and Coding will be a rewarding career, he says he’s open to eventually returning to college to earn his B.A. in Healthcare Administration—or maybe even reviving his dream of becoming a nurse.
“I’m not sure where my career path will lead, but I know the health care field is where I want to be,” Jamora says. “At 24, I have plenty of time to figure it out. There are many ways to provide patient care—and they all matter.”