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Job Title:

Medical Coder

Medical Coders are key members of a team that keeps vital healthcare facilities up and running and saving lives.

Job Overview:  

Medical Coding Specialists work on the financial and administrative side of the medical industry. Medical Coders read a patient’s medical chart and analyze it to determine the patient’s diagnoses and any procedures performed. Following strict federal guidelines, coders categorize those diagnoses and procedures according to a national classification system, assigning a specific numeric or alphanumeric code to each diagnosis or procedure. The result of their work is used for reimbursement and data purposes.  

In other words, a medical coder translates the documents in a patient’s chart into codes. Coders may use computer software to code, fill in the blanks in handwritten notes or work with some combination of paper and digital files.  Each hospital, clinic or physician’s office does it a little differently. To accurately read a patient’s chart and document the information within, a professional coder must have an extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology, disease processes, pharmacology, the different classification systems, and more.

Medical Coders work in different medical coding situations—hospitals, clinics, physician offices and nursing homes.  Medical insurance companies also hire medical coders. The duties vary according to the type of facility and the level of the credentials of the medical coder. 

The coding professional is an invaluable part of the healthcare team and often serves as a resource person for physicians, administrators and other allied health providers for information on documentation, regulations, reimbursement and data collection.

There is a high demand for medical coders and many confuse this job with medical billers because the work of these two careers is closely related.  Both careers are fast-paced and play a vital role in the connection between health care providers, patients and insurance companies. However, billing and coding are two separate professions.

Job Tasks:

  • Review medical records, provider notes, dictation, and other documentation to determine appropriate procedure codes and diagnosis codes, in accordance with the coding guidelines and federal regulations.
  • Utilize appropriate specialized medical classification software to assign procedure and diagnosis codes for insurance billing.
  • Review claims data to ensure that assigned codes meet required legal and insurance rules and that required signatures and authorizations are in place prior to submission.
  • Conduct medical records research and corresponds with insurance companies and healthcare professionals to resolve issues regarding claims denied for payment.
  • Provide feedback to physicians and other providers regarding coding guidelines and requirements.
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge and understanding of coding and insurance processing guidelines with continuing education and training.

Skills and Abilities Needed to Perform Job: 

  • Experience and knowledge in reviewing and assigning accurate medial codes for diagnoses procedures and services performed by physicians and other qualified healthcare providers.
  • Knowledge of ICD-9 and ICD-10 code diagnosis to determine the principal and significant secondary diagnosis.
  • Proficient across a wide range of services including E/M, anesthesia, surgery, radiology, pathology, and medicine.
  • Knowledge of medical coding guidelines and regulations including compliance and reimbursement.
  • Understand how to integrate medial coding and payment policy changes into a practice’s reimbursement processes. 
  • Knowledge of anatomy, physiology and medical terminology necessary to correctly code provider diagnosis and services.
  • Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases and deformities.  
  • Knowledge and use of Microsoft programs specifically including spreadsheet and word processing software.
  • Critical Thinking – Ability to use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension – Ability to understand written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Written Comprehension – Ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning – Ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that makes sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning – Ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions.
  • Information Ordering – Ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules.
  • Near Vision – Ability to see details at close range.
  • Oral Expression – Ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand. 

Desired Work Style Attributes:

  • Attention to details
  • Integrity – Honest and ethical
  • Dependability – Reliable and responsible
  • Cooperation – Pleasant with others
  • Independence – Job requires developing one’s own way of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision and depending on oneself to get things done
  • Stress Tolerance – Accepting criticism and dealing calmly in stressful situations
  • Initiative – Willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges

Environmental Service Worker

Education Requirements:

Hospital EVS workers often do not need an education credential, but most employers prefer applicants who have a high school diploma or GED. EVS workers must have strong written and oral communication skills and many employers prefer some prior work experience in a customer service focused job. Previous cleaning experience is preferred. Once hired, training is provided on-the-job by other EVS workers.

Hospital environmental services positions can be extremely demanding. The hospital setting lends itself to potential exposure to strong cleaning solutions, bodily fluids, disturbing sights and images of death. Workers must be able to stand and walk for lengthy periods and reach and bend. The job also involves pushing a cart and using a ladder to clean walls and vents, along with some lifting.

Food Services Worker

Education Requirements:

To work in the hospital as a food services worker, you may need a high school diploma or GED. Little or no previous work-related experience is needed for these positions and training is usually on-the-job, provided by employer. Successful job performance is dependent on following instructions and helping others.

Patient Transporter

Education Requirements:

To work in the hospital as a patient transporter, you need a high school diploma or GED. To increase your chances of employment, you can obtain certification as a National Association of Healthcare Transport Management Certified Healthcare Transporter. The training consists of three courses: Ethics for the Workplace, Skill Building for Transporters and Technical Skills training. You dont need this certification to get hired, however; the hospital that hires you will train you over a period of several months to learn areas of the hospital and transporting procedures.

Some hospitals will require transporters to satisfactorily complete body mechanic training for transporters within one month of start date and the American Heart Association (AHA) Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Provider (BLS) or an AHA approved equivalent within six months of start date.

Central Service Technician

Education Requirements:

One wishing to become a medical equipment preparer needs to have at least a high school degree to gain employment. There are vocational programs to train workers in this field, and it is also possible to get a technical degree at a community college as well. While there are no standard educational requirements to get a job in this occupation, it is becoming more and more common for medical equipment preparers to have some formal training. This is most likely due to the important nature of the work and training to help pay attention to detail and proper procedure helps workers be successful for the long run.

The curriculum included in a Central Services Technician certificate program covers introductory topics in the healthcare field as well as specific topics relating to medical tools and sterilization. A sterile processing technician certificate program teaches students the proper procedures for sterilizing, stocking and preparing medical tools, supplies and equipment within clinical facilities.

Training/Work Experience

You may need some previous work-related skills, knowledge or experience to be a medical equipment preparer.

To become a medical equipment preparer, you will need anywhere from a few months to one year of working in this field.

License and certification are recommended but not required.

The Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution offers national certification for medical equipment preparers. To gain eligibility to sit for the certification examination, individuals must have completed two years of employment in the field, completed a certificate program in the field, or completed two years in the field of surgical instrument and equipment sales.

Central Service Technician

Certifications:

Technical Colleges that offer Central Services training programs in Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties are listed below. One year of high school level biology may be required to register for this program.

Phlebotomist

Education Requirements:

There is no set path to become a phlebotomist, but you will need a high school diploma, as well as training in phlebotomy. There are two ways to get this training. You can complete a formal program or if it is available, you can get on-the-job experience at a health facility if you are employed in a job that provides patient care and want to advance in the technical career pathway.

Certificate and diploma programs in phlebotomy are offered by two-year colleges and vocational schools. They range in length from about three months to a year. You will take courses in phlebotomy techniques and anatomy and physiology. You will also take medical terminology, first aid and safety courses. Some programs include internships where you can practice venipuncture methods in a supervised setting.

If you are an incumbent worker in a hospital or other health facility that offers on-the-job training in phlebotomy, the training can last from several weeks to a year. You may not need prior phlebotomy training to get into these programs, but you may need computer skills and first aid training. It also helps to know medical terminology.

Certification is offered through several organizations. To be certified, you usually need to complete a formal training program in phlebotomy. Or, you can fulfill a work experience requirement ranging from six months to one year. You will also need to pass an exam.

Even though certification is not always required, it is usually preferred and can increase your chances of finding a job as a phlebotomist.

Phlebotomist

Educational Institutions:

Training providers with a Phlebotomy Technician program in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

Pharmacy Technician

Education Requirements:

There are no formal education requirements for becoming a pharmacy technician beyond a high school diploma. However, many employers prefer job applicants who have completed a formal training program. Pharmacy technician programs can be found at community and technical colleges.

Most employers require a high school diploma or GED as a prerequisite, and individual schools might have additional requirements. Programs range from as little as 15 weeks to as long as two years, awarding a certificate, diploma or associate degree. Most hospitals require completion of a recognized pharmacy technician program. Be sure to choose a program that is accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

Formal pharmacy-technician education programs require classroom and laboratory work in a variety of areas, including medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy record keeping, pharmaceutical techniques, and pharmacy law and ethics. Technicians are also required to learn medication names, actions, uses, and doses. Many training programs include internships, in which students gain hands-on experience in actual pharmacies. Students receive a diploma, certificate, or an associate degree, depending on the program.

You can receive certification through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). To be certified, you need a high school diploma or GED and pass an exam. Then you can work as a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)

Pharmacy Technician

Certifications:

You can receive certification through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). To be certified, you need a high school diploma or GED and pass an exam. Then you can work as a Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)

Other Resources

Pharmacy Technician

Educational Institutions:

Technical colleges and universities that offer pharmacy technology programs in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Kenosha Counties.

Surgical Technician

Educational Requirements:

If you want to be a surgical technician, you can start preparing in high school. It's a good idea to take classes in biology, chemistry, health studies, and math.

After you graduate from high school, you must enroll in a surgical technology program. These programs are offered at 2 and 4-year colleges or technical schools. You can also take a program offered by a hospital or the military.

Surgical technology programs include in-class instruction and supervised clinical training. Common courses will include: anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, professional ethics, and medical terminology.

Surgical technology programs also provide training in surgical procedures; how to care for and protect patients during surgery; sterilizing surgical instruments; how to prevent and control infection; and how to handle special drugs, supplies, and equipment.

These programs typically take between 9 and 24 months to complete. Depending on the program, you earn a certificate, diploma, or associate degree.

Most employers prefer to hire certified technicians that received certification from a group such as the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). You can also go through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). To qualify, you need to graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam.

Advancement Opportunities and Career Pathway for Surgical Technicians:

Level 1: Entry-level Surgical Technician (High School diploma, completion of surgical technology program and pass certification exam. Salary range $25K to $36K per year.

Level 2: Surgical Technician (High School diploma, completion of surgical technology program and pass certification exam, few years surgical experience. Salary range $30K to $45K per year.

Level 3: Specialist (High School diploma, completion of surgical technology program and pass certification exam, several years of surgical experience. Salary range $40K - $57K per year.

Other Resources

Surgical Technician

Educational Institutions:

Technical Colleges and Private Schools that offer surgical technology programs in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Kenosha Counties.

Radiology Technician

Educational Requirements:

No matter what your education or skill level, the field of radiology offers a variety of careers for anyone with a desire to help others and an interest in technology. If you are still in high school and interested in this type of technician job, be sure you compete courses in physics, chemistry and biology, as well as in mathematics.

You will need education and training after you complete high school to take advantage of this career. Most technicians earn an associate degree in radiography by completing one or two years in a technical college studying proper imaging techniques and learning to operate digital imaging equipment. Be sure to choose a radiography educational program that is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).

You could also earn a bachelor's degree from a four-year college, but it is not required for most of these positions.

Radiology Technician

Certifications:

Certification in radiography is offered through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Technologists who perform more advanced radiology screenings need to be licensed in some states, but radiographers do not. However, certification is often required by employers. Certification by the ARRT involves meeting their educational and ethics requirements and passing a certification exam.

You will need to have at least an associate degree in radiography from an accredited educational program and be free of any felony or misdemeanor convictions. The actual certification exam will cover topics such as radiation protection, image production and evaluation, equipment operation and patient care and education. Certification with the ARRT makes you more competitive, as it demonstrates that your skills meet professional standards.

Some of the career paths available in the radiologic technology field include:

  • Radiologist Technician – Operate the machinery, position patients for optimum results and perform the tests that create digital images of the body such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans or mammograms used for diagnosing illness.
  • Radiologic Technologist – duties are very similar to those of a radiology technician. The main difference between radiology technicians and radiologic technologist is their level of education. Most technologists hold four-year bachelor's degrees and are eligible for supervisory positions.
  • Radiology Assistant – A newly recognized occupation by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Radiology assistants are trained radiologic technologists who have completed advanced study and work directly under radiologists. They conduct tests, manage patients and make preliminary judgments of test results. However, only a licensed radiologist can make official, written diagnoses from radiologic images.
  • Radiology Nurse – Radiology nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who have completed special training in treating patients undergoing radiologic procedures. Most radiology nurses have completed several years of nursing school, plus extra study in radiology.
  • Radiologist – A licensed medical doctor who has completed specialized training in conducting radiological tests and interpreting digital images. They are experts in using radiologic images to diagnose abnormalities or illness in the human body. To become board certified, radiologists must complete and undergraduate degree, four years of medical school, a medical licensing exam, a year of internship with a hospital or medical facility and then four more years of residency in the field of radiology.

Other Resources & Professional Organizations

The American Society of Radiologic Technologists is the leading professional organization in the U.S. for those who work as radiologic technologists. Workers in Wisconsin can also join the state affiliate, the Wisconsin Society of Radiologic Technologists. The organization that sets many of the standards for education in radiologic technology and the examination for licensing and certification is the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. A reliable source of additional information about careers and programs in this field is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

Respiratory Therapist

Educational Requirements:

If you want to be a respiratory therapist, you will need some formal training. An associate degree is generally the minimum level of education for a respiratory therapist. The first step is to earn a high school diploma. While in high school, you should take courses in math, chemistry, and biology. English and physics classes are also helpful.

Technical colleges and universities offer programs in respiratory therapy. An associate degree takes two years and a bachelor's degree will take four years of education. In these programs, you'll take courses in anatomy and physiology. Professional courses may also include cardiopulmonary physiology, airway management, cardiopulmonary pharmacology and perinatal care. You'll also study arterial blood gases and anesthesia. You will need to get practical experience in a clinical setting as well. There, you'll learn how to test heart and lung functions and do mechanical ventilation.

When you finish your training, it's a good idea to become certified. Most employers prefer to hire certified therapists. To acquire this certification, you must pass an exam. This is administered by the National Board for Respiratory Care. When you pass the exam, you will be a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT).

As a CRT, you can take two more exams to become a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). One exam is a written test. The other is a clinical simulation exam. It's not necessary to become an RRT, but it will help you in certain jobs. For example, if you want to work in intensive care units or become a supervisor, you should become an RRT.

Most states also require people in this field to be licensed. Requirements vary slightly by state. But usually you need to graduate from an accredited respiratory therapist program and pass the CRT exam as well.

Respiratory Therapist

Certifications:

There are two levels of Respiratory Therapist: The Certified Respiratory Therapist and the Registered Respiratory Therapist. Respiratory Therapists are required to complete either a two-year Associates Degree or a four-year bachelor's degree. After successful completion graduates are eligible to take a national examination to earn the credential Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT). If you pass two more national examinations, you can earn the credential Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT). The RRT is the higher and preferred credential.

A candidate must work for two years as a CRT before taking the RRT exam. CRTs are expected to take and pass the higher exam within three years of graduation from an advanced level program. Those who don't pass, must retake the CRT before taking the RRT

Other Resources

Respiratory Therapist

Educational Institutions:

Technical colleges and universities that offer respiratory care programs in Milwaukee county.

Laboratory Technician (Medical/Clinical)

Educational Requirements:

To become a medical technician, you can enroll in a medical laboratory assistant or technician program. They are available at two-year colleges, technical schools, and some hospitals across the country. An associate degree takes two years to earn, but it usually takes one year or less to earn a certificate.

To become a medical technologist, you will usually need a bachelor's degree. You can study medical lab technology or one of the life sciences. It takes four years to earn a degree. In some cases, you can work at this level with a combination of study and on-the-job or specialized training.

Medical technician certification isn't required in all states, but many employers will prefer the certification that validates the knowledge necessary to perform the job tasks at high standards. The requirements are different in every state. You usually will have to pass an exam and meet certain educational requirements.

Laboratory Technician (Medical/Clinical)

Certifications:

The National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel offers a nationally-recognized test. Once candidates pass the exam, they are given the title of Clinical Laboratory Technician (CLT).

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) and American Medical Technologists certified those who pass an exam. They are designated as Certified Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLT)

Related College Programs

  • Clinical/Medical Laboratory Assistant
  • Clinical/Medical Laboratory Technician
  • Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Technologist

Other Resources

Laboratory Technician (Medical/Clinical)

Educational Institutions:

Technical Colleges and Private Schools that offer surgical technology programs in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Kenosha Counties.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Educational Requirements:

To enter this career, you will need to complete a program in diagnostic medical sonography. Accredited programs are offered by colleges and hospitals. Depending on the program you can earn an associate or bachelor's degree, or a certificate. Most sonography programs require two to four years of study. Associate degree programs are the most common option. A certificate program is a good option for people already trained in other health care careers. To enter certificate program, you must be a graduate of a two-year program in a related areas of health care such as nursing, radiologic technology or respiratory care.

Entrance criteria vary by program. You can apply for some programs with just a high school diploma. You will need credits in science and math. For other programs, you need experience or training in a related health care job. Be sure to choose an educational program that is certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAHEEP) so that you will be eligible for certification once you have earned enough work experience.

Some employers might prefer a bachelor's degree; however, you could get started on this career with an Associate Degree.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Certifications:

Many medical sonography jobs require certification. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers certificates to eligible candidates. You must pass special exams to earn this title and you can be certified in a few specialty areas. (Additional information can be found on the ARDMS website)

Certification would make you a registered diagnostic medical sonographer (RDMS). There are also specialty examinations for the abdomen, breast, fetal echocardiography, neurosonology and obstetrics and gynecology. Requirements of the exam will vary depending on which specialty exam you choose, but you will need to be a graduate of an accredited educational program or provide a copy of your bachelor's degree.

Certified Nurse Assistant

Educational Requirements:

To enter this career, you usually need to graduate from a formal training program. Many 2-year colleges have nursing assistant programs. Programs are also offered at vocational schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. These usually take less than a year to complete, and lead to a certificate. You often need a high school diploma or General Education Degree (GED) to apply.

Nursing assistants need to be patient, understanding, and level-headed. They must have an interest in helping people, and have effective communication skills. It is also important to be able to follow instructions carefully.

Some nursing assistants use their skills and qualifications as a springboard to go into more advanced nursing. For example, a nursing assistant may choose to take a training program to become a patient care technician (PCT). PCTs are qualified to perform more advanced duties than nursing assistants, such as venipuncture (drawing blood from a vein) or EKG measurement.

Other nursing assistants may go on to acquire the training necessary to become licensed practical nurses or registered nurses. See our career profiles for information about these professions.

As a student, you will take some standard courses, such as:

  • Nursing skills
  • Basic anatomy
  • Nutrition
  • Infection control

You will get on-the-job training in a hospital or nursing home as well.

To qualify as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), you must pass an exam. Most certification exams have both a written and a practical portion.

Certified Nurse Assistant

Educational Institutions:

Accredited Training providers of Certified Nursing programs in counties of Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Walworth

Medical Assistant

Educational Requirements:

To become a medical assistant, you first need to earn a high school diploma. The next step is to enroll in a medical assistant program. Many 2-year colleges and vocational schools offer these programs. The programs take 1 to 2 years to complete and they lead to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree.

You will take courses in subjects such as:

  • Anatomy
  • Medical terminology and law
  • Transcription
  • Record keeping
  • Accounting

You'll also learn about lab techniques and clinical procedures and first aid procedures. You need to learn first aid, too. Most programs include an internship. This allows you to develop your skills in an actual health care setting.

You may be able to get a position straight out of high school. In this case, you will learn your skills on the job. It helps to have related volunteer experience. But most employers prefer you to have completed a medical assisting program.

In some states, you must pass a test or a course before you can perform certain tasks. For example, you need extra training to take x-rays.

Some professional associations offer certification for MAs. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) awards the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) designation. To qualify, you need to complete an accredited program. You also need to pass an exam. Although certification is voluntary, it can offer an advantage in the job market. See the Other Resources section for links to more information about available designations.

Medical Assistant

Educational Institutions:

Technical Colleges, Private Schools and Universities that offer Medical Assistant training programs in counties of Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Walworth

Licensed Practical Nurse

Educational Requirements:

Unlike other nursing jobs, an LPN does not need a bachelor's degree or higher to practice. However, formal training is still required. While in high school, it is a good idea to take science, math and English courses. Some high schools offer nurse assistance training programs.

To become an LPN, you must complete a state-approved program at a two-year technical college or other approved private training school. You will need a high school diploma to enroll. LPN training programs usually take about a year and include both classroom study and supervised clinical practice. Classes cover subjects like: anatomy, physiology, nutrition, pediatrics, medical-surgical nursing and first aid.

Next, you must pass a licensing exam before you can practice. The National Council Licensure Exam for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) is a written test.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Educational Institutions:

Technical Colleges and other institutions that offer License Practical Nurse education programs in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

Physical Therapy Assistant

Educational Requirements:

Physical Therapist Assistant vs. Physical Therapist Aide

Working in the field of physical therapy has several entry points, all which come with varying requirements in terms of education, certification, and experience. This enables individuals of many diverse backgrounds and ambitions to get involved in this engaging field and best develop a long-term plan of action for further involvement and the most fulfilling career.

There are differences between a physical therapist assistant and an aide, with the distinguishing factor being training. While a physical therapist aide usually only has a high school diploma, an assistant usually has obtained an Associate Degree from a community college. While aides do not have to be licensed, a physical therapy assistant must pass a certifying examination once they have completed their coursework and are preparing to seek employment. Assistants must also take continuing education courses to stay licensed.

Physical therapy aides are often much more restricted in their responsibilities due to their limited education. Tasks include helping patients into or out of the therapy area, cleaning treatment areas, washing linens, and the handling of clerical tasks. The average salary for physical therapy aides typically is around $23,880.

Obtaining a position as a physical therapy assistant is often more desired than an aide position, primarily because of the increase in pay and responsibilities. The education required for physical therapy positions is typically an associate degree from an accredited college or university, along with certifications such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Additionally, to work as a physical therapy assistant, licensure must be acquired by passing the National Physical Therapy Exam from the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. The mean annual wage for physical therapy assistants is around $52,160, which places it as one of the most lucrative wages in terms of positions acquired with associates degrees.

Advancement Opportunities

There are opportunities for advancement in this field. Those who are physical therapy aides can combine work experience and continuing education into becoming a physical therapy assistant. Those who are already assistants can also gain more training and specialize in a variety of concentrations that can include geriatric, pediatric or cardiopulmonary physical therapy. Some assistants use their experiences to become teachers in their specialty.

Registered Nurse

Educational Requirements:

The Registered Nurse is educated to provide care to all individual or groups that are sick or healthy. RNs help coordinate patient care through patient education. There are several educational paths to consider once you decide that you would like to pursue a nursing degree. You can earn a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from a four-year college or university, a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from a technical college, or you can earn a nursing diploma from a hospital nursing program, although this option is becoming much less common with the proliferation of associate programs. Schooling in the field is relatively easy to find, with degrees well within reach of even the busiest of individuals.

Once you have completed your degree, you need to pass your states licensing exam which is called the NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Examination.

The higher your level of education, the more advantages you will have. Bachelor's degrees are a highly coveted asset the nursing world, so those who opt for a shorter Associates route often find themselves going back to school to advance up the medical ladder. But if immediate immersion in the field is what you seek, then a technical school program may be the proper course. There will also be more chances to advance in the field if you have a bachelor's degree. If you want, you can continue your education. You can enroll in masters and PhD programs at many colleges with the option of getting certified in many specialty areas such as gerontology or pediatrics.

All states require nurses to be licensed. You must pass a national licensing exam after graduating from a nursing program.

Registered Nurse

Certifications:

Registered Nurse Licensing and Advanced Certifications

Professional nursing is licensed in all fifty states. There are slight differences in licensing requirements, but all states require you to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you have completed your degree program, you must obtain authorization to test from your state board. You may be allowed to work under a temporary license while waiting to take the exam or waiting for exam results. The permit is generally good for about 90 days, provided you do pass the exam on the first try. (The National Council of State Boards of Nursing reports that more than 85% of first time test takers did pass in 2011.)

You will renew your license periodically (generally, every two years). You can expect a continuing education requirement; again, the specifics will vary from state to state. Its best to treat continuing education as a career opportunity. Certifications like ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) can enhance your employability.

Some certifications you can only earn after some time out in the field. These include specialties like pediatrics, available through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. In order to sit for exams through the PNCB, you must work 1,800 hours in a pediatric setting during a two-year period.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers certifications in a number of specialties, from cardio-vascular to ambulatory care. Whatever your practice setting, chances are you will find a certifying exam.

Physical Therapist

Educational Requirements:

Physical therapy (PT) professional education refers to the didactic and clinical education that prepares graduates for entry into the practice of physical therapy. Education for the advancement of practicing physical therapists is termed post-professional.

For more information, go to http://www.apta.org/PTEducation/Overview/.

A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree is the only PT degree offered. The Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) and Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MSPT) degrees are no longer offered to new students in the United States.

Bachelor's Degree, Yes/No? The length of professional DPT programs is typically 3 years. Most physical therapist education programs require applicants to earn a bachelor's degree prior to admission into the professional DPT programs. Other programs offer a 3+3 curricular format in which 3 years of specific pre-professional (undergraduate/pre-PT) courses must be taken before the student can advance into a 3-year professional DPT program.

Freshmen entry – A few programs recruit all or a portion of students directly from high school into a guaranteed admissions program. High school students accepted into these programs can automatically advance into the professional phase of the PT program pending the completion of specific undergraduate courses and any other stated contingencies, e.g. minimum GPA.

Physical Therapists have the most specialized education to help people restore and improve motion. All Physical Therapists must receive a graduate degree from an accredited physical therapist program before taking the national licensure exam that allows them to practice. A growing majority of programs offer the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.

It is extremely important that you attend a program accredited by CAPTE to take the licensure exam. Without a license you will not be able to practice.

Physical Therapist

Certifications:

Licensing Requirements

To become a Physical Therapist, you must first graduate from a physical therapist educational program with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) degree. After graduation, all states in the country require candidates must pass a state-administered national exam. Other requirements for physical therapy practice vary from state to state according to physical therapy practice acts or state regulations governing physical therapy.

You will have to take the National Physical Therapy Exam which the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) administers. Licensed PTs must take continuing education classes and attend workshops to maintain licensure. Specific requirements vary by state. You can find a list of state licensing authorities on the FSBPT website.

Physical Therapist

Educational Institutions:

Schools and programs accredited in the field of physical therapy by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE) located in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Kenosha.

Patient Services Representative

Educational Requirements:

A high school diploma or equivalent is preferred for some employers and required for other employers. However, Patient Service Representatives should be prepared to meet the preferred minimum educational attainment because, depending on the type of position, additional training may be necessary. Some employers may require training through an accredited institution in the form of a postsecondary certificate or an associate degree program. Technical and community colleges offer certificate or associates degree programs in medical assisting, which provide a more advanced academic background and experience for an aspiring patient service representative.

These programs typically take 1-2 years to complete. Courses may cover advanced anatomy, medical terminology, medical records, health insurance compliance and basic office organization. Some programs include a practicum for students to get hands-on training with local clinics. This allows a student to practice new skills, gain familiarity with medical office layouts and make contacts for future employment.

When choosing a postsecondary institution, it is advisable to look for one that has a program accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. This is important because most certification agencies only accept candidates who possess a certificate or degree from an accredited academic program.

Certification/Licensure: Not required

Health Information Technician

Educational Requirements:

There are health information careers available for people with degrees at all levels. To begin, graduate from high school with a good overall foundation of English, math and science. It would also be helpful if you take courses in computer science, economics and health studies.

Most people who enter this field receive an associate degree in health information management programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)an indicator of program quality in both health information management and health informatics.

You will have a choice of levels. Health information management courses at the associates level are often called Health Information Technology while those at the bachelor's level may go by a variety of names including medical informatics. A combined health information/health informatics program may qualify you for additional certifications.

Employers prefer that you are certified. You can become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers this option and you will need an associate degree to qualify. You must also pass an exam. You can also get certified as a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) as well. You will need a bachelor's degree in health administration to quality.

The AHIMA offers an option for medial coders as well. You can enter his field if you take a one-year medical coding certificate program. Schools that offer this program may offer an associate degree too and you may be able to use credits earned in the coding program for the degree.

Advancement Opportunities

If you want a specialized position, you will want to take your education to the bachelors or masters level. These degrees will give you an edge when you apply for jobs and lead to a higher salary. To become a manager, you often need a master’s degree. A specialist or senior manager may focus on coding or manage data on cancer patients. Techs with a lot of experience can advance to become a supervisor of a section coding, correspondence or discharge section.

Other Resources

Health Information Technician

Educational Institutions:

Technical Colleges and Universities that offer Health Information Technology programs in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Kenosha counties.

Medical Coder

Educational Requirements:

The minimum education requirements are a high school diploma or equivalent and certification as a professional coder (CPA).

Many online certificate programs in coding can be completed in less than a year, but if you are looking for a degree, an associate degree program is two years and a bachelors is four years of classroom or online study if you participate as a full-time student. Medical coding is not a licensed profession, but credentials do matter. The AAPC reports that certified coders earn an average of 20% more than coders without certification.

Medical coding is not a licensed profession, but credentials do matter. The AAPC reports that certified coders earn an average of 20% more than coders without certification.

New graduates from medical coding schools can often find entry-level employment in smaller physician offices and some health care facilities, but the larger health care practices and organizations will want to see six months to one year of work experience and national certification. Many medical coders take jobs upon graduation and study for the certification exam while employed. In many cases, graduates have had their certification exam costs reimbursed by employers and the work experience gained in that time is invaluable.

You earn certification by passing an examination. There are multiple certifying agencies for medical coders, but they are not all equal. The two that are best known and most respected around the nation are AHIMA and the AAPC. Each offers several credentials.

The American Health Information Management Association (AIHMAZ) offers two certifications The CCS or CCS-P and the RHIT. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers three certifications including, CPC, CPC-H and CPC-P. The AAPC offers the CPC (Certified Professional Coder) certification, which is most useful for coders in physician office settings. There is also the CPC-H, which is for hospitals and the CPC-P, which is geared toward payers (health plans or Medicare).

In addition to basic credentials, there are several specialty credentials offered through the AAPC. These demonstrate advanced knowledge of coding medical specialties.

For a medical coder, education is ongoing. Continuing education is required for recertification through either organization.

Training/Work Experience

You may need some previous work-related skill, knowledge or experience to be a medical equipment preparer.

License and certification are recommended but not required.

Medical Coder

Educational Institutions:

Technical Colleges that offer Medical Coding training programs in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties are listed below:

Health Care Department Manager

Educational Requirements:

There are multiple paths to becoming a Healthcare Department Manager, but it generally takes several years of post-high school education and training. It is a rewarding career path for high school students preparing to choose a career or for a seasoned health care employee looking to advance their career.

As with most careers it helps to begin building your resume early:

High School Students

  • If you have a chance to enroll in a magnet high school that focuses on health care careers, seize the opportunity! You may be able to enroll in a certificate program while still in high school.
  • Do some career exploration and take advantage of opportunities to volunteer in health or community service organizations. Job shadow professionals to learn about Allied Health Careers (Allied Health is a term used to describe the broad range of health professionals who are not doctors, dentists or nurses.)
  • After high school graduation, you will need to enroll into a healthcare degree program. Many degree programs titled allied health are for individuals who have already completed a certificate or associate program in a health field. If you prefer a business focus, you may want to enroll in a health care administration program. These programs are academically rigorous, and you will need to take your education to the master's level to compete for the best jobs.
  • Build your communication, leadership and administrative skills.
  • Keep your college grades up with English, math and science courses, even consider taking psychology.
  • Research programs, apply for work experience internships.
  • Join professional organizations.

Healthcare Workers

Health care employees will need education and experience before assuming managerial roles. You will need a degree in health services administration, health sciences, public administration, public health or business administration. It is important to choose a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Management Education.

A bachelor's degree is often adequate for some entry-level management positions in smaller facilities, at the departmental level within health care organizations and in health information management. Physicians' offices and some other facilities may sometimes substitute on-the-job experience for formal education. You will find a wide array of schools offering Health Care Administration degrees online and on campus.

An MBA in Health Care Management prepares individuals for mid-level and executive level health care management positions in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, manage care organizations and other related health care organizations.

Licensing and Certification

As an allied health manager, chances are good that you will be both licensed and certified. However, your licensing probably won't be in allied health management. Allied health administrators may be licensed in any of many health professions. Employers determine which licensure is needed for specific departments.

The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management offers two credentials, one for managers who work in hospital settings, the other for those who work in a medical office.

Health Care Department Manager

Educational Institutions:

Technical Colleges, Universities and private institutions that offer Management Programs in Health Services Management and/or Administration in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Kenosha counties are listed below: