Constitution Day

we-the-peopleToday, September 17th is Constitution Day. This holiday, sometimes referred to as Citizenship Day recognizes the ratification of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787. This year, although historic health care legislation has recently been passed, many of the worst abuses of the insurance industry are still in effect as providers plan a double digit rate increase.  So even though major provisions of the newly passed bill won’t take effect until 2014, there is still a moral imperative to make sure all Americans have access to basic healthcare.  I have heard many opponents of universal healthcare ask, “Where in the Constitution does it say that we’re entitled to universal healthcare?”. Follow me over the fold for the answer to this, and other questions about the amazing document at the core of our Democracy. Continue reading…

Think Innovative Thoughts

Just because something has been done the same way for a long time doesn’t mean it’s the only correct way of doing something.  As you embark on your careers in the medical field, never forget to keep your mind open to innovation.  For some inspiration in this regard, check out this video of a man who looked at the large patches of plastic flotsam on the ocean’s surface and saw something quite different than floating garbage.  See how he turned garbage into an island paradise.

As a Medical Office Professional, Stay Mindful

I have written several posts on incorporating the eastern spiritual teaching of “mindfulness” into healthier patterns of living, eating and interpersonal relationships.  Today, I found a very interesting article by author and health coach, Riva Greenberg entitled, “10 Tips For Mindfulness: The Healing Power Doctors Forget”.  The piece talks about the lack of mindfulness the author seems to find increasingly common in doctors’ offices.  As many of you will ultimately be working in these offices, I thought it was very pertinent to your education.  Read the article to learn how you can infuse your work in the healthcare field with the benefits of mindful thought.

Know Your Enemy

Yes, it is war again.  My yearly battle with seasonal allergies has erupted again into violence.  Violent sneezing, gruesome coughing and a river of tears and clear liquid pouring from my eyes and nose.  I am sure many of you readers are fighting the same battle I am these days.  For some it is worse in the Spring.  For me it’s worst in the Fall.  Well, like any good warrior will tell you, “knowing your enemy” is of critical importance to winning the war.  And although knowing what these pollens actually look like (when viewed through and electron microscope) will not provide you any critical advantage, it will at least make you feel better about nuking these scary looking irritants with Claritin, Benadryl or whatever your favorite weapon of allergic destruction may be.  Grab a hanky and have a look at this interesting pollen slide show from the Telegraph UK.

States With the Lowest Unemployment

The Business Insider released an article this week listing the top ten states with the lowest unemployment rates.  The lucky top 10 are: 1) North Dakota 2) South Dakota 3) Nebraska 4) New Hampshire 5) Vermont 6) Hawaii 7) Kansas 8) Wyoming 9) Minnesota 10) Iowa The article included information on the particular industries in each of these states that contributed to its position among the states with the lowest unemployment.  And although medical industry was not featured as a key driver of employment in any of these states, there’s no getting around the fact that wherever there are people, there will always be demand for medical services.  So if you’re setting out, new certificate in hand, looking for a new place to start your life and career, think about some of these places where the good employment outlook surely means the local economies are vibrant.

Friday Funnies – Quitting a Job Made Easy

By now, the whole country has seen the story of the disgruntled Jet Blue flight attendant who literally pulled the cord and ejected himself from his job after a particularly stressful day.  I am sure he will be seeking a new job shortly.  If you’re about to graduate and ready to leave your crummy job behind to begin your new career in medical billing and coding, you might want to purchase this useful item – the Slipquit – when it’s time to tell your current boss, “sayonara”.

Unplug and Carve Out Some Free Time

We’re all just so busy.  Working, studying, raising kids, planning for the future.  Sometimes, for those of us tethered to all these activities by the computer, it can seem like we just don’t get enough time to unplug – literally or figuratively.  Here are a few tips on how to reclaim the spare time you may recall having once had to spend on yourself.  These come courtesy of Kari Henley and you can read her whole article about Reclaiming Spare Time here.  Kari says: Email Self-Control — Declutter your inbox by unsubscribing to anything you don’t need or read regularly, and try not to continue long email conversations that aren’t necessary. One of Therese Borchard’s tricks is to take weekend breaks from her computer. Imagine! This is a great way to scrounge up a ton of free time — think of it as email Sabbath, (Reading this column, however, is an acceptable exception). Social Networking is junk food, plain and simple. Let’s face it — Facebook is the Doritos of friendships and Twitter is a super size box of Fries. Both are tempting, and both are ultimately not all that healthy. Take the time for some “slow food” — home-cooked friendships that require face-to-face time. If you are IM’ing someone in your office, get up and try walking over for a change. Facebooking your best friend? Pick up the phone or stop by; imagine how you look from space, hunched over terminals sharing the daily chatter. Find the “in-between” moments of the day to embrace as spare time. Driving is a great opportunity to do some deep breathing, turn off the noise in your head, and notice the scenery around you, rather than listening to talk radio, eating, or talking on the cell phone. Find the moments in the shower, doing dishes or walking the dog to flatten out as buffer zones of nothingness. Force yourself to be bored. Remember being bored? It is the MacDaddy of spare time. Kids today think five or six seconds of spare time equals being bored, and many adults’ tolerance for unfilled moments is not much better. Set aside several hours once a month with nothing particular to do and see how it affects you.

Never Give Up

The old saying goes, “I used to complain I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”  Regardless of how tough your believe your circumstances to be, there is always a way to persevere.  If you’re struggling with unemployment and making ends meet while you study to get your medical billing and coding certificate, keep up the fight.  Take a cue from this courageous, young, Chinese man on “China’s Got Talent” (the Chinese equivalent of our “America’s Got Talent” TV program).  He plays piano WITH NO ARMS.  Yes, you read it right.  Pianist with no arms!!!  The English subtitles are a little jilted, but you’ll get the point.  This video will renew your resolve to overcome whatever challenges you face.

Are You a Bird Brain? You May Wish You Were!

Alex the African Grey ParrotOn those days when you start to feel that your coursework is taxing your brain, take a moment to think about Alex, an African grey parrot, who was the subject of a thirty-year (1977-2007) experiment by an animal psychologist named Irene Pepperberg, initially at the University of Arizona and later at Harvard and Brandeis University. Before her work, scientists believed that a large primate brain was needed to deal with complex problems related to language and understanding and that birds were not intelligent and only used words by mimicking. Pepperberg’s accomplishments found that birds may actually be able to reason on a basic level and to use words creatively. She reported that Alex had the intelligence of a five-year-old human and the emotional level of a human two-year-old at the time of his premature death (from an unexpected catastrophic event associated with arteriosclerosis) when he was about thirty years old (the average life span for African grey parrots is fifty years). At the time of his death, he could identify 50 different objects and recognize quantities up to six and could distinguish seven colors and five shapes. He understood the concepts of “bigger,” “smaller,” “same,” and “different,” and was learning “over” and “under.” Among a number of his skills, he had a vocabulary of 150 words and appeared to have understanding of what he said. He could label an object when asked about its shape, color or material. He could also add to a limited extent, and understood the concept of zero, answering “none” when asked the difference between two objects if there was indeed no difference! When the bird was tired of being tested, he would indicate that he wanted to go back to his cage by saying, “Wanna go back.” If he said, “Wanna banana,” and was offered a nut instead, he would stare in silence, ask for the banana again, or take the nut and throw it at the researcher before requesting the item again! And talk about “famous last words,”Alex’s last words to Dr. Pepperberg were, “You be good. I love you.”

You Can’t Make it Up on the Weekend

Like many people busy with life, work, studies, family and what have you, I frequently burn the midnight oil, staying up past my preferred bedtime to complete some obligation or another.  Yet, I still must awaken the same time the next day to go to work.  As a result, I am frequently getting less than 8 hours a night on weeknights.  Sometimes, I make up for the deficit by sleeping a few extra hours on the weekend.  But recent studies indicate that it doesn’t work that way.  Click here to read why it is important to make time for sufficient sleep on a regular basis and how “playing catch up” on the weekends is not the solution.