Solidarity With Our Fellow Americans in Baltimore

baltimoreBaltimore is a great city for medicine.  The famed John Hopkins and the National Institute of Health both call Baltimore home.  Yet, right now, the people of the City of Baltimore are hurting as evidenced by the civil unrest witnessed there in recent days after the death of Freddie Gray.  Unfortunately, the pain they are enduring and acting out upon is not something we can cure as medical professionals.

The upheaval and raw, emotional anger witnessed in Baltimore this week is of the same strain seen recently in protests in Ferguson, MO after the shooting of Michael Brown; in our home town of New York City after the death of Eric Garner and in many other cities around the nation.  It is a pain borne of poverty, oppression and desperation.

As the Reverend Martin Luther King said, “A riot is the language of the unheard”.  From all of us at the Allen School Blog, we wish to convey our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Baltimore – of every race and ethnicity.  We hear your pain and outrage.  We share in the ardent desire to help ease the suffering of iniquity and to raise up the standard for every American so that desperation and anger such as we’ve witnessed in recent days should never be the experience of any one of our countrymen.


Transferring Files to New Computer for Medical Coding Online Classes

file transfer ides for medical coding online classesOne critical piece of hardware relied upon by those taking medical coding online classes (as well as those in medical coding jobs) is the trusty computer.  Whether it is a laptop or a desktop, medical billing and coding as a study topic and a career relies heavily on computers.  They’re a fact of life in this field.  So its very likely that at some point, you’ll be faced with a dying machine or a machine so old, it is more cost effective to replace than repair/upgrade.  When that happens, do you know how to transfer all your files from the old/dying machine to the new one without losing important data or programs?

Donna Tapellini writing for Consumer Reports offers the following five steps to safely and effectively migrating your files/data from an old computer to a new one.

  1. Back up your files before you move them.
  2. Transfer your files.
  3. Install your applications.
  4. What about that old printer?
  5. Keep your data to yourself!

For the details on each of these five steps, read Donna’s article here.  The article provides insight into each of these steps including file backup services/procedures, media/processes for transferring files, deciding which applications to migrate and which to leave behind, how to migrate older peripherals like printers and how to keep your data secure.

For those taking medical coding online classes, this computer first aid is almost as important as the kind doctors and nurses apply to carbon-based life forms (humans).

New Disease Alert for Nursing Assistant Trainees

Powassan-virusAs a nursing assistant trainee, it pays to stay informed about any advances in medical technology.  It also pays to stay informed about the advance of new and emerging illnesses so that you may be prepared to recognize them should a sick patient present the symptoms while in your care once you’ve completed studies and landed a job as a certified nursing assistant.  That is why whenever we read about an emerging threat to public health, we here at the Allen School Blog try to report to you on it.

Today’s report is on an emerging threat here in the Northeast, home region of the Allen School.  Sure, we already all know about Lyme disease, its symptoms and how it is transmitted by being bitten by deer ticks.  Well, the new Powassan (po-AH-sen) virus is also transmitted by the same black-legged deer tick as Lyme disease.  However, unlike Lyme which requires the tick to have fed until fully engorged (about 24 hours) before the infection occurs, Powassan can be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes of being bitten.  Also, unlike Lyme which is a bacterial infection treatable by anti-biotics, Powassan is a virus and there is no cure.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, “With the more benign forms of the disease, [the symptoms] are very much nonspecific — you might have a fever, some headache, some vomiting, confusion,”  According to Yahoo Health, “as the virus affects the brain more, you may get more confused, memory loss, seizures, and you can even die from it if you develop encephalitis, which is an infection of the brain.”

While this vague description of the symptoms may be precious little to go on with respect to rendering diagnosis, it is enough just to know about the existence of the ailment.  Powassan is not new.  However, it has been emerging in much greater numbers in the last few years in the Northeast.  So it is worth keeping tabs on for nursing assistants and the doctors they work with.

Medical Billing Courses Online at your Fingertips – Literally!

Thirty years ago, it would have been considered “futuristic” to consider what is today an accepted reality.  Taking medical billing classes online using the internet-enabled virtual classroom seems perfectly normal to us today.  Yet, it is easy to forget just how radical and innovative this capability is and how much technology has transformed the way we do nearly everything – from work to shopping to studying medical billing courses and more!

Well, if you’re a student taking medical billing courses online, then you’re probably temperamentally well-suited to perhaps adopt this nifty new piece of tech-magic!  Grad students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a miniaturized trackpad (like the ones on laptops) that you can affix to your thumbnail.  It literally puts a wide range of activities right on your fingertip.  The video below explains what it is and how it works.  Think of the multi-tasking potential this nifty little piece of wearable technology will deliver!

How to Lose a Medical Billing Job Online

social whoopsiesToday, thanks to the popularity of the internet, sprawling social media landscape and the ubiquity of the camera phone, pretty much everything about our lives are online somewhere.  Do you remember any of the pictures and comments you posted on  The Internet does!  This is why for young adults working on their medical billing online degrees in hopes of landing a good paying career, the following information is critically important.

We all have already been told that Internet etiquette suggests we post nothing in public areas (think Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) that we wouldn’t want our granny to see.  Or, if you prefer, don’t do anything online that you would be too embarrassed to do in a public place.  But carry this logic a step further to consider the availability of your online behavior to the hiring manager you may interview with for a job.

Hateful comments, lewd behavior, nude photos, photos of alcohol or drug use posted on social media can be all it takes for a hiring manager to drop your resume like a hot potato.  Even strong political or religious posts or comments can be negatively viewed.

Similarly, for those already gainfully employed as a medical billing or coding pro, online activity can torpedo your job.  For example, blowing off steam about your boss to your sympathetic friends could potentially be seen by coworkers or, worse yet, your boss.  Then there’s also the tale of the medical billing manager who called in sick but really went to the football game and posted pics smiling at the fifty yard line.  HR saw the posts and you can guess what happened.

There are plenty of other ways to screw up your career through undisciplined usage of social media.  Check out this article from Business News Daily for the comprehensive list of social media mistakes that will ruin your career.

Certified Nurse Assistants Widely Valued

awards for certified nursing assistantsSome careers more than others earn workers special recognition from society at large.  Of course all work is honorable and every person’s efforts and contributions add something to society.  But there aren’t many fields as universally valued as the healthcare field.  Ask anyone who has lost their health and they’ll tell you that health is the number one most important thing in life and that all other happiness flows from being free from physical pain and suffering.  So it follows that those who help people return to healthy conditions, the doctors, nurses and certified nurse assistants, earn the gratitude and admiration of society on a daily basis.

It is not surprising then to see the multitude of results returned from a simple web search for “nurse assistant awards”.  The preponderance of results illustrate the extent to which certified nurse assistants are making a difference in all the communities they serve.  Here a few examples of certified nurse assistants recognized for their contributions and excellence all across the United States.

Saint Louis, MO
Seminole, OK
Anderson, TX
Tallahassee, FL

And the list goes on and on.  Perform your own search to see just how many people are making a difference studying to become certified nurse assistants and then making their mark on one of the world’s most important and meaningful careers.

Medical Billing and Coding Classes Tackle ICD-10 Upgrade

The Federal government has mandated an upgrade to the processes involved in medical billing and coding to improve such things as fraud detection/prevention, reimbursement accuracy and data collection needed to support the new ACA-driven healthcare system.

A recent Congressional panel included Panelist Sue Bowman, MJ, RHIA, CCS, FAHIMA, AHIMA’s senior director of coding policy and compliance.  Ms. Bowman urged Congress to avoid any further delays (ICD-10 implementation has been postponed for almost 6 years already) and allow the US to keep pace with other industrialized nations who adopted ICD-10 years ago.

“With ICD-9 deteriorating, we’re getting less and less information from [patient and physician] encounters. We’re getting less information about what’s being treated. So many disparate procedures are lumped into a single code,” Bowman said.

Small physicians’ practices are concerned that the costs associated with implementation will be prohibitive and devastating to their businesses’ profitability.  In the video below, we hear from one such doctor who voices the concerns of small and often rural practices such as his own.

coombsFrom our perspective, the best hedge against the upheaval that will come with the rollout of this new protocol is having well-trained medical billing and coding specialists on staff who are trained to operated according to these new guidelines.  Medical billing and coding classes at Allen School Online have been preparing the next generation of professionals in the medical billing industry to great effect.

Nursing Assistant Degree – Your Ticket to Low Taxes and Less Traffic Congestion

nursing assistant degree When you’re stuck in a dead end job, you may wish for the ability to change your surroundings.  You may wish to move to a place where it is easier and cheaper to live.  However, in a dead end job, it is hard to make enough money to make any changes to your surroundings.  You may be stuck living in a high tax state or a state with horrible traffic congestion making your commute to said dead end job all the more emotionally taxing.

On the other hand, if you have a good job, like the kind you’d qualify for once having earned a nursing assistant degree, you can exert far more control over your situation.  Get that nursing assistant degree and you’ll be earning a significant amount more than you would be working in foodservice or retail.  And with that extra money, you could move to a state with an overall lower tax burden so you’ll keep more of what you earn.  Plus, given that there are plenty of good jobs in nearly every US market for people with nursing assistant degrees, you could elect to begin your career in an area where there isn’t a ridiculous amount of traffic for commuting.

So how would one go about locating the perfect location with low state tax burdens and acceptably painless commutes?  Glad you asked.  Here are a couple of articles to help point you in the right direction.  Here’s a piece that shows what states pay the highest state taxes (to be avoided) and another piece that shows the ten worst commute corridors (also to be be avoided).


3 Reasons for Older Workers to Embrace Medical Assistant Training

older nursing assistantTaking medical assistant training with the Allen School is a good strategy for young people who wish to embark on a lifelong career in the healthcare industry.  However, for people 50+ years old, taking medical assistant training is also an attractive option.  A recent USA Today article reporting on an AARP survey illustrates why folks in the middle of a lifetime can benefit from a significant career change, leaving behind work in wholly unrelated fields in favor of medical assistant training and other healthcare related jobs.

It is not a secret that the employment market has lately favored the younger worker for his/her willingness to work for less, leaving many middle aged workers unemployed for long stretches of time thanks to the economic downturn.  The AARP survey of 2,492 people, ages 45 to 70, who had been unemployed at some time during the past five years showed that people who were unemployed for a longer period were more likely to take a job in a different occupation than those who were unemployed for a shorter time.  Careers in medical assisting are a good choice for more seasoned workers looking to transition into a new field and here are three reasons – based on the AARP survey data – why this makes sense.

1)  Better Pay – 51% of respondents to the AARP survey said they earn more in their new jobs than their old.

2)  Better Work Environment – About half (49%) of re-employed workers say their working conditions at their new jobs are better than the jobs that left them behind

3) High Job Availability – 71% of the respondents said the biggest barrier to landing a new job is that there are none available; 60% reported the need to stay in the area where they currently live; 57% said that employers think they’re too old.  The medical field is one of the most robust sectors of the economy and will remain so for at least a decade according to US Dept. of Labor statistics and there is a need for healthcare in all 50 states.  Older workers beginning new careers in this exciting field can easily find work wherever they live and there are always positions in solid supply.

If you’re an older worker considering a new career path to get back into the workforce, medical assistant training could be the option for you.


Tax Deductions for Nursing Assistant Training School Expenses

Tax Deductions for Nurse Assistant Training SchoolYes indeed, that dreaded time is rapidly approaching us all again.  Tax time.  That time of year when – in a furious run up to April 15 – we all freak out trying to find receipts, make accurate calculations, gather our tax documents and get it all ready to report to the IRS.

If you were enrolled in nursing assistant training school at any point in 2014 (or any post-secondary educational institution) you’re probably eligible for some tax deductions related to your studies that can help lower your tax liability.  It could even help increase your tax return!

But you have to be careful to make sure you’re taking deductions you’re entitled to and avoiding ones that you’re not entitled to.  Now, as a lowly blogger, I am certainly no tax expert.  Nor is the Allen School Blog making any formal financial recommendations to our readers.  That said, I will point you toward the following page from the tax experts at Intuit’s TurboTax tax preparation service.  They have put together a rather exhaustive list of what you may be able to deduct and what common deduction mistakes to avoid.  The TurboTax article answers important and pertinent higher education tax questions as:

  • Which expenses qualify?
  • What if I receive grants or scholarships?
  • Who qualifies?
  • How much can I deduct?
  • and more!

Read it and get the most out of your tax return this year!  Whether you’re enrolled in nursing assistant training school, online medical coding classes, medical assistant training or any other higher educational endeavor, remember, April 15th is the deadline for filing so get a jump on it by starting today!

(Full disclosure: This blogger has been using TurboTax for years with positive results.)