Early Spring? Early (Allergy) Suffering

If you live in the Northeastern United States (as many Allen School and AS Online students do), you know we’ve been treated to a very early Spring.  After an exceptionally mild and mostly blizzard-free Winter, the temperatures have been in the mid-60s to 70s for the last 10 days or so.  The forecast is for over 70 degrees for much of the week this week.  In this blogger’s yard, the lilac bushes and forsythias have already begun to sprout early leaves.  While all this is a welcome occurrence, I know that I and many other seasonal allergy sufferers will be in for a bumper crop this pollen season.  While there’s very little you can do to stop the coming onslaught of pollen, there are steps you can take to alleviate the allergens in your home so you don’t suffer twice as much when the trees and flowers bloom.  Here’s a good piece from Men’s Health magazine about ways to minimize allergies in your home.  Enjoy this early Spring, and pass the tissues!

Non-Verbal Cues that Can Torpedo Your Job Interview

You only get one chance to make a first impression.  This is especially true in the interviewing for a job position.  With so many applicants for each available job, you need to put your very best foot forward.  Just try not to be tapping your best foot all through the interview.   Allen School Online students get a highly respected certification when they finish their studies of medical billing and coding.  However, no matter how good your grades are, and no matter how respected your education is, and no matter how articulate you may be in the interview, you can still blow it and not even know it.   The Wisebread.com blog site has a great piece up right now that chronicles some of the non-verbal or “body-language” cues that can distract an interviewer during your meeting.  Things like excessive staring (while trying to maintain good eye contact), bouncing one’s leg up and down (due to nervousness) or nodding too much (trying to indicate high levels of interest) can all be negatively interpreted by the hiring manager.  Click here to read the whole article and its list of “don’ts” for body language during the interview process.

Great Data from BLS on Medical Billing and Coding Employment

medicalbillingandcoding.org is chock full of tools and data you can use to learn more about the employment environment for your chosen career field. And I have to say, the data looks pretty good. The salary figures, the projected growth of the industry and other related statistics all point to a positive environment for jobs in medical billing and coding.  Stop by their site here and see for yourself.

Get a Real Job! **UPDATED**

This story has been exposed as a hoax.  Sorry for any inconvenience!You may have seen this story on the Interwebs today about the sneering banker who left a 1% tip on a $135.00 lunch tab at a restaurant in tony Newport Beach, CA.  Worse than that, he circled the “tip” line on the credit card receipt (where he filled in the whopping $1.35 gratuity) and left the server the nasty-gram, “Get a real job!”  What a Jerka-saurus Rex!  Now, you probably won’t make as much as a bankster with your certification in Medical Billing and Coding from the Allen School Online.  But you will have what no one – not even an overly entitled, imperious jerk like this banker – could ever accuse of being anything other than a “real” job.  A good job, with a respectable salary and benefits.  So keep on studying and remember to be nice to one another out there!

How to Save on Broadband

Hey Allen School Online students!  I know you use a broadband connection to do your studies of Medical Billing and Coding over the internet.  And I know that you probably also have a telephone and a television too.  As such, you definitely have accounts with providers of wireless, cable and broadband services.  You probably have an account or accounts with a company like Cablevision, Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T or many of the other companies providing services.  So how would you like to learn how to get some deep discounts on the monthly bills you receive from these providers?  Here’s the secret:  You just have to ask! Over at Lifehacker, there is a great post on how to ask for an almost always receive discounts on your connectivity services.  Read it and you can thank me later!

Don’t Miss Out on Education Tax Credits

So, the tax season is upon us.  Time to dig out all your last year’s receipts, paycheck stubs, W-2s, 1099s and any other income and expense related materials.  However you choose to make your filing — on your own, with the help of a service provider like HR Block or Jackson Hewitt, or online with a program like TurboTax — you should know that there are some pretty significant deductions you can claim for monies you spent in pursuit of online education with Allen School Online.  Now I am not an accountant and I don’t suggest you take this material as legally qualified tax planning advice.  But there are places you can go to find out about the deductions you may be entitled to for spending time and money studying medical office assistant and/or medical billing and coding.  Start here for a pretty good overview of what you can reasonably deduct.  The list includes tuition, interest paid on educational loans, cost of books, supplies and materials and other school-related expenses.  Depending on your level of income, you may or may not derive benefit from these deductions, but its worth a few extra minutes to look into what you may qualify for.  After all, why leave money on the table?

A Heart Attack on a Bun

We’ve all made this joking reference before to fatty fast foods that we love, but that are less than healthy to consume.  Regular readers of the Allen School Online Blog know that we love to cover stories about horrible fast foods.  From KFC’s gruesome Double Down sandwich to the greasy McDonald’s McGriddle breakfast sandwich.  As entrants into the field of medical office assisting, you’re bound to endure a lifetime of dealing with people who suffer the maleffects of eating this kind of diet.  Just look at the case of the man that suffered a heart attack while eating something called the “Triple Bypass Burger” (see photo) at a place in Las Vegas known as the Heart Attack Grill.  You may be as disgusted as I was to learn that this 8000 calorie monstrosity of a sandwich is not the largest one on their menu (see the Quadruple Bypass Burger to be truly impressed/repulsed).  So yes, the victim in this story did indeed suffer a heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass Burger at the Heart Attack Grill.  Is anyone surprised?  Always looking for stories about horrible dietary abuses so if you know of any places or stories like this one, please share with me in the comments.  Now go eat a spinach salad!  Happy Friday students!

Tips on Interviewing Via Skype

This blog has frequently shared tips for succeeding in job interviews with Allen School Online students once they’ve completed their course of study in medical billing and coding or medical office assistant.  As online students, you’re well aware of the many ways that technology has changed the nature of studying and working.  Skype is one such exciting technology.  The internet-based communication tool lets users make phone calls, instant message, hold video conferences and even share desktops.  It has revolutionized many fields including the medical field.  A good example comes from Education First’s Ming Chen who says, “Skype has transformed a lot more than just the telephone industry. Its ease of use and ubiquity is opening up new opportunities in health, education and business. Telehealth, largely fueled by Skype, has allowed doctors to communicate with rural and remote patients.”In the same article at the Huffington Post, Chen shares the “Seven Deadly Sins of Skype Interviewing“.   Yes, Skype is being used by increasing numbers of employers as a tool for holding job interviews without the need to meet with candidates in person.  This saves time, money and headaches for both interviewers and job candidates.  Yet, as you might expect, there are plenty of ways to torpedo your Skype interview.  Just like an in-person interview, there are some rules and best practices to follow if you want to put your best foot forward.  Moreover, there are new rules, specific to online interviewing, which should be followed by any candidate wishing to make a good first impression, even if it is over a broadband connection.

What Can You Expect Salary-Wise With Your Certification?

For excellent information on the salary ranges you might expect to earn as a medical billing and coding professional or medical office assistant, I recommend the site: www.simplyhired.com.  There you can enter in the position you’re expecting to fill once you’ve completed your course of study at the Allen School Online.  It also offers functionality to search average earnings by location.  So if you plan to move to Tulsa to start your career, you can see what the market looks like for your job description.  The good news is that in the New York metro area, the average salary for medical billing and coding professionals in listed at $50,000/year.

Happy Change Your Passwords Day!

Online students of the Allen School use their computers for a lot more than the average person.  And although your course work may not be something of value to would be thieves, it is safe to say that you probably also do your banking online and other financial management activities.  This is why it is so important to have strong passwords in place on your more sensitive accounts like credit card accounts, mortgage accounts, medical records and other information you’d not want in the hands of some scammer.  Unfortunately, since we all have so many passwords to remember these days, it can seem like a shortcut to make your passwords easy to remember.   Passwords like “12345” or “password” are so easily hacked, its a wonder that you haven’t yet been the victim of identity theft if you use these easy-peasies.  So today is Change Your Password Day and the good geeks over at LifeHacker have put together a good bunch of information on this topic.  Read it here and then set about solidifying your defenses against the hordes of scammers just looking for an easy way into your personal information online.