Can you be a double alumni? I’ll have to look into that…but you can certainly be a double graduate! And that’s what Dori Thompson is about to become!
Dori graduated from the Medical Billing & Coding (MBC) program at our Las Vegas campus in September 2013. Next month she will graduate from the online Health Studies program, offered by Carrington College, with an Associate of Science degree.
The online Health Studies degree completion program allows Carrington alumni who have already earned a Certificate of Achievement to continue their health care education and work toward earning an Associate of Science degree in Health Studies.
Why did you first decide to go back to school Dori?
I was in my early 40s and looking for change. I’d struggled to maintain a steady job. I needed to reinvent myself, get a new footing in a more stable, more secure career. I wanted something that I could focus on, something I could continue to learn and improve on for the rest of my career.
The initial decision was a spur of the moment thing; I was watching TV and thought to myself “How about I go back to school?” I’d always wanted to do Billing & Coding but I’d never got off my butt and done anything about it – I’d talk and talk about it, but I never did it. This time I followed through.
After graduating the campus program, what motivated you to continue your education online?
Just after I graduated in Las Vegas we had to move back to the Midwest. My husband has several medical conditions; we came back here so he could have a dual transplant. I tried to find a job, but as I was in a new place, trying to take care of him, and didn’t have much experience in the field, I didn’t have much luck. But my mentality was positive – “Okay, I want to be a coder; so what else can I do in the meantime?”
I wasn’t working, and we were trying to get situated here, so I thought building on my education would be a great way to spend my free time. So I enrolled in the online degree completion program in December.
You graduate the program on August 22nd, what’s been the best part?
Being able to arrange my own schedule as it suits me, as far as study time, homework, assignments, things of that nature. If I have to go to bed a little later, or get up a little earlier, so be it. I know it’s up to me to manage my time to accommodate both my life and my school. That’s what I like best about this online program – the flexibility.
And…what have you missed?
For me, I miss the face-to-face lectures of a campus based program. I find it easier in a ‘live’ lecture where I can see my instructor, read their body language and see facial expressions, and put my hand up to ask questions. Of course we can ask questions online, but sometimes, depending on when I’m studying, it might take an hour or more before I get an answer. But the positive of that is it puts more responsibility on me to find out the answer instead of just relying on the instructor to tell me.
So overall how did you cope with an online degree?
I thought that an online degree was going to be easy, but it wasn’t. Although I was able to rearrange my schedule to accommodate my studies, and rearrange my studies to accommodate my schedule, I found it a little more difficult because it was all up to me. The teachers are helpful and very supportive, but I had to find my own motivation and discipline. But that’s also been a good thing; the added responsibility is preparing me for a health care career where I’ll need to be accountable to others, but also to myself.
I felt that I had a lot more on my plate than I did in the classroom quite honestly. It’s been a major adjustment between the two. I had to be responsible – if I didn’t get up early to read, if I didn’t feel like it, I knew what I could expect. So I had to just do it.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about yourself?
That I can do it. I’ve made so many excuses in my lifetime; I made excuses that kept me from accomplishing goals, and after the fact I would feel horrible about it and down about myself. But I’ve learned that I’m the only one who stands in my way. ‘I do’ because I know ‘I can.’
With the flexibility to attend school “anytime, anywhere”, how do you balance your time?
It’s really difficult to study for just a couple of hours a day. It’s a lot of work; I try to ration my week out into the things that I have to do. I can’t necessarily say that I’ve got a good balance, but I do have some.
What advantages do you think this Health Studies degree will give you in the job market?
I hope it will give me a step up from just an entry level position; and if I do go for an entry-level MBC position I’d hope it would give me an advantage over someone without a degree. I believe that it could also give me an advantage when applying for a position in a hospital or with an anesthesiologist, which is where I want to go.
I think this degree will give me what I need to get into the career I want. I want it all – I want as much as I can get, and I think this will help me get there. At the very least I believe it’s going to open more doors and put me further towards the front of the line.
What would be your ideal job?
My dream is to be a medical coder for a hospital – that’s what I want to do. I love coding – it’s an adrenaline rush for me! My next step after this is studying for the ‘Professional Coder’ certification; it’s a bit expensive for me though so I’m going to have to save up for it. But if I can get a job in a hospital, there may be a chance that they’ll pay for it for me.
How do you feel having (almost) finished two Carrington programs?
I’m ecstatic! I didn’t ever think I’d be here. I didn’t think I had it in me. Quite honestly I didn’t think I’d finish the Medical Billing & Coding (MBC) program, and here I am about to graduate from a second program.
I feel renewed, like I have a new perspective for myself! I can really see the future ahead of me. As I started the day today, I thought to myself “I could do this, I could do that, I could do this” – There are so many different directions I can go, and I’m just so excited! I can’t wait!
What would you say to any Carrington Alumni who may be thinking of enrolling in this program?
I would tell them that it’s definitely worth the effort. You’re the only person standing in your way. Nobody else can stop you. It’s really up to you whether or not you succeed. It’s only difficult if you make it difficult; If you want it, just do it. There’s no second guessing it at all.
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