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Grow as a Pro

Grow as a Pro

Prepare yourself for a professional future of opportunity and success.

By Angela Clements, CPC, CEMC, COSC, CCS
There are many ways to grow as a professional. All areas of growth start with an internal evaluation of where you are and where you want to be. A common phrase used in our society is “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” In other words: Prepare yourself for a future opportunity so you’re ready when the opportunity presents itself. All it takes is a little initiative on your part.
Take Initiative
A person who takes initiative is proactive. She does not wait for an opportunity to fall into her lap. She prepares for it, and then goes and gets it. Those who excel as a professional are willing to work hard and perform any task that is asked of them, or take the initiative by asking for additional tasks — even if it means starting at the bottom and working up.
For example, before I was a manager, I started out reading only material that pertained to my current role. One day, the light bulb went off, and I realized I would not grow beyond the status quo if I didn’t read about topics and specialties I did not completely understand. I started asking my supervisor for additional tasks. I became eager to learn and to grow in areas unknown or out of my comfort zone. When I changed my perspective, opportunities became limitless.
See Things in a New Perspective
I have watched Coder A get angry at a co-worker, Coder B, who received a promotion that Coder A wanted. In Coder A’s mind, Coder B should not have gotten the position. In reality, the promotion was probably earned and deserved because Coder B did what was asked and went beyond the normal job responsibilities, meeting every challenge and assisting others. Coder B had a positive attitude. In contrast, Coder A commonly asked, “Why do I have to do that?” or “How much more money am I going to get for adding that to my responsibilities?”
Have you ever been passed over for a promotion and you didn’t know why? Look at how you handled it (or how you think you would handle it). It’s OK to be disappointed, but it’s not OK to be angry at the co-worker who got the promotion.
Instead, congratulate your co-worker, and then do something that will ensure you don’t get passed over again.
Remember: Working in the medical field requires keeping up with constant changes. To succeed in this field, you must adapt. New regulations, new technologies, annual coding changes (not to mention the temporary codes Medicare may add mid-year), and new methodologies are some areas you must update every year, every quarter, or even every month. Changes in responsibilities don’t always reflect pay grade changes. It’s your responsibility to stay current with policies and regulations.
Sharpen Your Skills
Every so often, perform a self-assessment. Look at yourself and determine what areas need refinement. It could be functional skills such as improving your computer proficiency or social skills to help bridge a generation gap. There are many skills needed in the workplace that we fail to develop because we don’t focus on attitude and the social aspect as much as the functional aspect of work. Each of us likes to believe we are a model employee; however, no one is perfect. Everyone has at least one skill that needs sharpening and an honest self-assessment will illuminate the area(s) you need to hone. You might even be proactive by seeking a mentor who can help you sharpen skills that lack luster.
Worry About Yourself
Many employees fail to grow as a professional because they are too worried about what their co-workers are doing (or not doing). Do not focus on others. The time you spend worrying about others is valuable time you could be spending on yourself.
Overcome Barriers
Attitude is probably one of the biggest barriers to overcome. A change in attitude, or a change in how you react to a situation, may be your first step to growing as a professional. This is a change that needs to come from within.
Have you ever noticed how some people (maybe even you) hate Mondays? Of course Monday is likely to be a miserable day if you don’t look forward to going to work. Choose your attitude when you wake up, and make it positive by saying out loud, “Today is going to be a great day!” or “I love my job!”
Time can also be a barrier. If you feel like you need a 36-hour day to complete your work, perhaps you need to improve your time management skills. Think about how you can reorganize your work for maximum time efficiency.
Your priorities may shift daily, but knowing what they are will help you with time management. Prioritize your work. Determine what needs to be completed today and set a timeline. If you spend most of the day working on one task that is due the next day, and leave an hour for a task that has a 5 p.m. deadline, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Don’t get comfortable in your “safe zone.” Challenges are good. Facing challenges enables you to grow as a person and a professional. Failure just proves you’re trying. It’s OK if you don’t succeed right away. As William Edward Hickson wrote, ‘Tis a lesson you should heed, Try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, Try, try again.”
A successful day is a day you learn at least one thing!

Angela Clements, CPC, CEMC, COSC, CCS, is the physician coding auditor/educator consultant at Medkoder.  She has over 16 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Clements serves on the National Advisory Board as member relations officer, and is president of the Covington, Louisiana, local chapter.

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