Medical Coders: Giving Back and Paying it Forward

Medical Coders: Giving Back and Paying it Forward


by Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA

In my last blog I used the example of rush hour traffic to illustrate how the act of giving can seed a more positive and fruitful experience in seeking a medical coding job. As luck would have it, I experienced another traffic incident this week that again inspired me to think about how we navigate our jobs and careers.

I was heading home and decided to avoid my usual route – the one with the 5 lanes of traffic squeezing into the 2-lane tunnel – so I took the route through downtown. Depending on what time I leave work, this can be a really good choice or as frustrating as the tunnel merge. This particular day it was worse.

Traffic was backed up for 2 lights, which meant that many people pushed the limits of road space when the light changed from green to yellow, lining up behind the traffic on the other side of the light even when there was not enough room. This blocked traffic coming through on the cross street and led to a series of angry horns, waving hands and choice language exchanged between exasperated drivers.

When I came up to the front of the line I realized I had a choice to make. By this time, I had watched the light change more than 10 times while only inching forward. I was tired; my commute today was already twice as long as usual and I had somewhere to be in another hour. I really didn’t want to sit through yet another light cycle. My dilemma however, was that if I moved forward at the yellow light, my Jeep would impede at least 1 lane of cross traffic and create even more chaos. I decided to stay put for the greater good of everyone on all sides of the intersection.

Sometimes our careers present similar “stoplight decisions” for us to consider. Along our individual career journeys we will find opportunities to contribute our time and talents to projects that may never benefit us, but that serve the greater good. We may work to implement an internship program so that students coming after us have opportunities that we did not; we may spend time outside of work creating a procedure manual to help future new hires experience a smoother transition into their new roles; or, we may take our lunch break to help a colleague who is struggling.

In each of these situations, our contributions may never directly influence our lives for the better. Be assured, though, that the good seeds we plant today will redound to our departments, our facilities and the profession as a whole. No single act by any one of us will turn our profession upside down or change the world, but these small acts of good can make life a little easier for others and may even inspire them to pass it on when the opportunity presents itself.

I’ll never know if holding back at that light allowed a frustrated parent to get home a few minutes sooner and less frazzled, or prevented someone at the end of a terrible day from developing a migraine headache. I do know that the few extra minutes I waited didn’t really change my evening, and maybe – just maybe – I shared a tiny bit of good that impacted my fellow travelers for the better that day.

Throughout our lives and careers we’re very likely to benefit in numerous ways from the contributions others have made along the way. We may never know who they are, or why they did it, but that doesn’t matter. The best response to these “gifts” is gratitude and the most meaningful way to say “Thanks” is to pay it forward.

Other posts in this series:
Coders and Networking: It Goes Both Ways
Stay in Touch! Build your Network of Contacts to Help your Coding Career
Attn Coders: Make the Most of Attending your first Professional Meeting
Looking for a Coding Job? Try Networking Outside the Profession
Give First to Receive: Lessons for Coders Seeking their Next Job

About the Author

Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA
Rebecca Harmon returned to HIM practice in a leadership role after spending many years as an HIM educator. Tapping her broad history of diverse healthcare experience that began with a tour of duty in the US Navy, Rebecca writes regularly and speaks on education, workforce issues, management and life. An energetic and engaging speaker, Ms. Harmon enjoys sharing her unique perspective with student, faculty, professional and community groups.

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