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Is it a good idea for someone with experience in long-term care to take medical billing and coding courses to help build their resume?

Wednesday November 13, 2013
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Question:

Dear Donna,

I am unemployed for more than a year now, and I would like to take medical billing and coding courses to build a stronger resume and to use as fall back career just in case I have a hard time finding a job. Do you think it's a good idea? I had been working in the long-term care setting for many years and I'm planning to go back to it or to be a home care nurse.

Wants a Stronger Resume

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wants a Stronger Resume,

Coding and billing courses will not necessarily make you more marketable unless you are applying for a position in that particular field. Keep in mind that these courses can be costly and usually multiple courses are needed to work in this specialty. I suggest that before investing time and money in this or any course, you first do some informational interviewing (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Interviewing) with other nurse coders in your local area to see if this would be a good fit for you.

You can find them by networking with other healthcare professionals that you know and through the American Academy of Professional Coders (http://www.aapc.com/).

Because you already have long-term care experience, you might look into becoming a minimum data set coordinator or other type of reviewer in a LTC facility. If you search for that position title under "Jobs" at Nurse.com, you will find several positions along with job descriptions. But you also should call area LTC facilities and ask to speak to the MDS coordinator, and do an informational interview with him or her. Ask if that person belongs to any related professional associations and then get out to one of those meetings as a guest to network. When there's something you want to do, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing that job.

Since networking is such a great way to find and get a job, be sure to connect with all former co-workers and supervisors in LTC. Attend area career fairs and attend a local meeting of the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care (www.nadona.org) as a guest. This association is for all nurses who work in LTC.

Since you are not working, you also should look for a volunteer position as a nurse while seeking paid employment. Volunteering is a great way to ease back into the workforce. It provides recent relevant experience to put on your resume, expands your professional network and often turns into paid employment. For volunteer positions, consider your local public health department, hospice, a free clinic, senior citizen health center and other related healthcare facilities.

Before you spend money trying to beef up your resume, employ the above strategies to create positive momentum in your job search and career.

Best wishes,

Donna


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www. Nurse.com/Events.