Balancing Work and Studies

My cousin is currently working a full time job and going back to school for some retraining after losing her job in an industry heavily impacted by the recession.  Watching her struggle with keeping both her job performance and her studies from flagging, prompted me to look online for some ideas from others on how to balance work and studies.  I will share with you what I recently shared with her.  Here are some pretty common strategies for work/study balance that I encountered among the experiences of others posted online.1) Be OrganizedWhether you prefer an oldschool notepad, a traditional day planner or a fancy new PDA, it is critical to keep track of your obligations to both job and school.2) Take an Incremental Approach – Don’t begin by trying to handle overtime at work and a full course load.  Start out with a little less and see how you’re able to handle the load.  If you have the bandwidth you can add more work hours or credits to your course load.3) Balance the Difficulty of Your Classes – Select your classes wisely each semester.  Mix some harder classes with some easier ones and you’ll find working and studying to be more sustainable.  Taking all the tough classes together at the same time can lead to burnout!4) Transcript Management – Keep on top of your credits.  Especially if you’re attending different schools in pursuit of your educational goals.  Even some credits you may have earned 10 years ago may still be transferable.And if you’re currently a student of Allen School Online, then you’re on the right track because you’re already doing the last frequently mentioned strategy:5) Consider Online Schools – The freedom and flexibility of taking online courses can really help out if you are working full time, taking care of children or both.

Best US Job Markets – Part 3

In a recent post, I listed out the top 5 best and worst job markets for healthcare related jobs in the country.  I promised I would explore some of the areas in the “bests” portion of the list to continue my earlier series on “Best Job Markets in the US”.  A man of my word, I am pleased to delve a bit into what makes Madison, Wisconsin such a great place to live and work.About 75 miles west of the shores Lake Michigan, this beautiful city of 228,000 people is a youthful and vibrant place to live.  For career minded singles or young couples seeking a great place to put down roots and start a family alongside their new career, Madison is an excellent choice.  Almost 57% of the young population (median age 33 years) is single which is great for those seeking a new romance in addition to a new career.  Yet housing and overall cost of living is attractive to those who are seeking to build a home alongside their career.  The average home in Madison sells for $220,000 which is far more affordable than in areas such as New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles.  The cost of living index in Madison is below the national average too.   With a median annual income of nearly $50,000, the potential for good living in this Wisconsin gem is high.Having spent a little time in Madison, I can say from experience that the city and surrounding metro areas are clean, attractive and inviting with excellent food, social activities, parks and music.

WHO: Swine Flu Pandemic Official

This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that  the Swine Flu has covered enough of the globe to qualify as the first pandemic in over 40 years.  The formal announcement made this Thursday doesn’t mean the flu strain has become any more lethal, just that it has spread beyond any ability to contain it across the globe.Swine flu has afflicted 29,000 people so far across nearly 80 countries worldwide.  Luckily, the strain isn’t hyper-virulent and most folks who contract the illness require conventional medical treatment for their mild symptoms.  The WHO have urged pharmaceutical maufacturers to produce stockpiles of anti-viral medication and governments have been working on developing vaccination programs to protect populations from easy transmission of the virus.Although the first pandemic of the 21st Century seems to be mild by historical standards, the sheer number of people infected across the globe represents a serious burden on healthcare systems and underscores the insatiable demand for healthcare and healthcare support providers in a world with a burgeoning population.

Early Draft of Healthcare Bill Reveals Imminent Changes

On Friday a partial draft of the healthcare legislation currently wending its way through Congress was released.  While the bill is likely to undergo significant revision, there are several sweeping changes proposed that are likely to be included in the final legislation. One of the more interesting of the proposed changes involves the creation of a health insurance exchange. Known as the American Health Benefit Gateway, this portion of the proposed legislation would mandate that each state create and manage a gateway to help individuals and businesses purchase health insurance. According to the draft, the proposed Gateway will not allow the denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions. It would also guarantee the availability of health coverage in group and individual markets while eliminating lifetime or annual limits on the amount of care a provider will cover. This part of the bill would certainly help those uninsured with pre-existing conditions to gain access to coverage. And the creation of gateways in every state will almost certainly boost employment among those in the field of medical record keeping. In fact, whatever shape the legislation ultimately takes, the goal of providing healthcare coverage for all Americans can only have a positive effect on employment in health related fields. It will be interesting to see how this historic reform bill ultimately pans out.

Transition from Manufacturing to Heathcare

With the closure of hundreds of Chrysler and GM dealerships across the country, there are going to be thousands of folks joining the ranks of the unemployed. And its not just dealers that will be out of work. Decreased demand and closures will have a rippling effect throughout the workforce as parts manufacturers, detailers, shippers, and other ancillary automotive support industries are pared back in tandem with the closures. Even non-automotive industries will suffer from the maleffects of these closures. I know that the bagel shop, newsstand and lunch counters adjacent to my local automall will all be suffering from fewer salesmen, mechanics, detailers, etc., there each day to buy coffee, newspapers, lottery tickets, bagels and lunches. The sad part is, many of these jobs will be lost for good. When manufacturing plants close, and large numbers of skilled workers are dumped into the labor pool, it is near impossible to find new positions for these workers. These jobs simply dry up. As painful as this is, it is this function of the business cycle that prompts displaced workers to seek training in industries where there is greater opportunity for growth and job stability.Traumatized by the loss of a lifelong career path, folks seeking job training typically seek fields that they believe will insulate them against falling victim to this kind of cataclysmic collapse ever again. The medical billing and coding field is a natural match for those seeking to retrain and redeploy into a growing field. With the Baby Boomer generation entering retirement age, the need for healthcare is projected to continue to rise dramatically. As the population continues to age, the security in this field should rise in direct correlation.  So if you’re a victim of the collapse of the US auto industry, you might consider a new career in a secure and growing field. We are sorry for your hardship and loss, but we offer you the hospitality of our community and the opportunity to grow with us.

Friday Follies

Making it through another week is always an accomplishment worth noting. Whether its a school week, a work week or both, strong effort Monday through Friday deserves to be rewarded with a little levity and fun.  With the “TGIF” spirit at heart, let’s take a look at a place you might want to  one day visit to celebrate your graduation from Allen School Online and entry into the medical field. The blogmaster at one of my favorite cocktail recipes blogs, recovering from a recent appendectomy, came across this medical-themed restaurant and bar room while websurfing in his hospital bed. At “The Clinic” restaurant in Singapore, the food and drinks are served in surgical pans, syringes and other hospital themed vessels by waitstaff clad as nurses and surgeons. My favorite has to be Nitro Sangria served in an IV drip bag. (Well, that and being able to afford a trip to Singapore!)And if that didn’t make you laugh, perhaps you need to take a step back from studies and work (after school or work today) and get back to your primal roots. Just take a page from our primate cousins, who, according to recent research, laugh just the same as humans. If you want to smile on this Friday, take a look at this amazing video from National Geographic showing researchers tickling gorillas, orangutans, bonobos and others while recording their laughter.

Best and Worst Cities for Healthcare Jobs

I found this excellent piece of research via website www.nursinglink.com outlining the top 5 best and worst cities for seeking employment in the healthcare field. As part of my series on job markets across the country, I will explore these top 5 best cities, one by one, in subsequent posts.Here’s the list of the best and worst from NursingLink:5 Best Cities for Healthcare Job Hunters
  1. Sioux Falls, SD
  2. Madison, WI
  3. Ft. Walton-Crestview-Destin, FL
  4. DesMoines, IA
  5. Boston, MA
5 Worst Cities for Healthcare Job Hunters
  1. Yuma, AZ
  2. Fresno, CA
  3. Dalton, GA
  4. Waterbury, CT
  5. Monroe, MI
I know a little something about both Madison Wisconsin and Boston Massachussetts having spent some time in both those fair cities. So I am looking forward to providing some more detailed info on those two markets as well as the three other top 5’s in subsequent posts in this Job Market series.

File Under: Easier Said Than Done

Of all the individual ideas for healthcare reform proposed by President Obama, the notion of transitioning to a fully electronic process for the maintenance of medical records would seem to be the most obvious. It also seems like one of the easier things to accomplish, given the other, more ambitious reforms on the agenda. After all, its clear that the technology for such complex electronic record keeping already exists and is currently in use by other industries. Yet nearly two decades after the beginning of the information revolution, while the technology has grown exponentially there has been little will to apply it to medical record keeping.President Obama was not the first inhabitant of the White House to suggest that enormous savings could be captured through the application of information science and Internet technology to replace old, paper based data management. Maximizing efficiency is one, legitimate way the insurance industry could keep the climbing costs of healthcare down without cutting service levels. Presidents G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton also supported moving in this direction. So what are the obstacles?Among the roadblocks to adoption of widespread Electronic Medical Records or EMRs in the US are such issues as:Interoperability – the ability (or inability) of disparate computer systems to “speak” with one another. Doctors’ offices, hospitals, labs, insurers, public health institutions, etc. Privacy – developing protocols for transfer of data among the numerous providers in a way that protects personal information (partially addressed in HIPAA)Legacy Data Capture – the logistics involved in scanning and entering existing patients’ medical histories into the system to avoid discarding valuable, historical, medical perspectiveChange Management – the process of fostering adoption of new technologies and practices across entire enterprise level industries is challengingOther obstacles to adoption include: cost of implementation, unclear standards across all programs, problematic legal issues (digital signatures and data preservation procedures etc.).Everyone seems to agree that implementing EMRs in the US is a worthy goal. Yet, as with so many goals worth achieving, this one is easier said than done.

Best Job Markets in the US: Part Deux – NJ’s Monmouth-Ocean Counties

Today, let’s examine the career environment in the Monmouth and Ocean Counties of New Jersey. These two coastal counties just south of New York City are home to many of the famed New Jersey Shore communities. Offering summertime visitors and residents alike sun, surf and proximity to the cultural and economic powerhouse that is New York City, Monmouth and Ocean Counties also rank very high in terms of their career potentials for those seeking employment in healthcare related industries.Monmouth-Ocean is among the top 25 “medium sized” cities for jobs and business in the US and ranks 57th out of the top 100 largest metropolitan areas. The Department of Human Services has significant resources in this area and provides services in a number of relevant areas such as aging, mental health, addictions and others. No less than 3 of the top 10 source industries in Monmouth-Ocean are in healthcare related fields. And there are plenty of large organizations to support solid job growth in this field including:
  • Southern Ocean County Hospital
  • St. Barnabas Healthcare System
  • CentraState Healthcare System
  • Monmouth Medical Center
  • Bayshore Community Health Center
Besides strong opportunities for stable employment, this area also boasts great quality of life. Strong green community development initiatives and the spectacular natural beauty of famous shorepoints like Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Barnegat Light, Long Beach Island and Springsteen’s favorite, Asbury Park, make this coastal area a wonderful place to be during work hours and during play time too! As a young man, I spent many summers traveling to the New Jersey Shore. Etched into my memory are the sounds and smells of the beach boardwalk commingling salt air, coconut oil, sausage & pepper heroes, corn on the cob and salt water taffy. Add to these intoxicating aromas the delighted squeals of rollercoaster riding kids, the perpetual throb of the surf and the cries of maritime birds. The relaxing vibe of the sleepy coastal towns always helped tranquilize me and wash away the stresses of life. How great would it be to live and work in such a attractive and prosperous environment?For more detailed info on Monmouth-Ocean demographics and job data, visit: http://hubpages.com/hub/Monmouth-Ocean-NJ

Best Job Markets in the US – Part 1

The current economic challenges have had the unintended consequence of spurring a lot of media coverage regarding employment figures nationwide. The upside of this focus on job data is – if you’re starting a new career – you have access to a wide array of data on where you can find a good job in an area projected to enjoy continued growth. Since lately I seem to be stumbling across a lot of state-by-state lists of “Top Growth Jobs”, I have decided to write a series of posts detailing the career environments in different areas of the country for people with medical billing and coding expertise. This virtual tour of great American destinations (and their respective job markets) may be as close as this writer gets to a vacation this year, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I plan to.Today, let’s look at the data from California, a State I once called home and a great place to be if you’re working towards a career in the healthcare field. The current recession has spurred significant job losses and a lot of coverage about California’s unemployment. Yet, less reported are the thousands of new job openings filled in the Golden State every day. According to labor statistics, California’s total employment is predicted to approach 20 million or more by 2016. That’s good news! What’s even better is that the healthcare sector is number one on the list of “growth industries” and medical billing is included in the list of “25 Jobs to Increase through 2016” in California. That makes the Golden State a good place to consider living and working.This blogger lived in San Francisco during and after the Internet boom/bust and even in the dark economic days, post-bubble, I always found it a great place to find gainful and rewarding employment. It also has the added benefit of being a truly beautiful place to live. Pristine beaches, majestic mountains, acclaimed wineries, world-class golf, diverse music, innovative cuisine…***sigh***. Great place to begin your own Gold Rush. Have a look at the full report on California’s employment environment here:http://hubpages.com/hub/Top_California_Jobs