Coding Together and Best Friends Forever
Some AAPC friends are inseparable, and they also are bonded by coding.
On social media you’ll see some people changing their best friends forever (BFFs) or “besties” as if they are an old pair of shoes. But true friendship is timeless. When you meet that person, you are so comfortable with them that you feel like you’ve always known them. Even after you have been away from them for a long time and finally see each other again, you don’t skip a beat in the friendship. It’s as if you were never apart. You confide in and trust that person; you share laughter, tears, worries, and milestones. Now imagine also sharing coding guidance and career aspirations, and understanding their humorous work situations. It takes the friendship to a new level of bonding.
AAPC is fortunate to be an outlet for healthcare business professionals to network, connect with colleagues, and build strong friendships with likeminded individuals. Let’s take a look at some AAPC members who are inseparable besties.
Brenda Edwards and Judy Wilson
Brenda R. Edwards, CPC, CPB, CPMA, CEMC, CRC, CPC-I, and Judy A. Wilson, CPC, COC, CPPM, CPB, CPC-P, CANPC, CPC-I, have been in the “coding business” for many years. Edwards is a senior managing consultant of risk adjustment at Medical Revenue Solutions and Wilson is a business administrator for Anesthesia Specialists working out of Sentara Heart Hospital. Their paths had never crossed until meeting at the 2010 Jacksonville, Florida, AAPC National Conference, the year that Nashville flooded and the conference was relocated. The stars had aligned that day; they both had joined the AAPC Chapter Association board of directors in 2010 and were serving on the board of directors together.
When Edwards and Wilson met, there was an instant BFF connection. Wilson said, “I knew from the beginning that we would become friends and continue to see each other from that time on.” Edwards said, “She is one of those friends that you feel you’ve known your entire life.”
Their friendship has become stronger over the years, and they lift each other up with humor and good times. Edwards said, “Judy is a ray of sunshine. Sometimes I think about her and just start laughing. Wilson said that Edwards “is such an uplifting type of person. She laughs most all the time and I cannot be around her and not have a good time.” She said, “I have never been with Brenda where there wasn’t lots of laughing.”
Although Wilson and Edwards are longtime coders and speakers on the national level, they sometimes need coding help and lean on each other for guidance. Wilson said, “Brenda is so knowledgeable in the coding field; you know she’s the self-proclaimed ‘Coding Queen.’ I use her expertise as my resource for any coding questions I have, especially E/M, which I do very little of. Even the “Coding Queen” needs coding advice from time to time, however, and guess who she turns to? Her bestie. Edwards said, “Judy is the expert in cardiac and anesthesia. I use her as a resource for those areas, and as a second opinion and sounding board. She brings a different view than I may have.” Wilson said that Edwards “is always there to help me with presentations, as well.”
Because Wilson and Edwards live so far apart, they go to conferences just to see each other. Wilson said, “We both support as many AAPC events and local chapter events as we can, and we offer to speak and work at all of the regional and national conferences.” For example, “I just went to Kansas City’s all day workshop just to see Brenda and several other friends,” Wilson said. After the workshop, she spent a few quality days there to visit with Edwards and other AAPC friends. “There was a lot of … hugging when it was time to say goodbye,” Wilson said.
The distance doesn’t stop them from staying connected, however. “Brenda is always there if I need someone to vent to,” Wilson said. “She is there for my highs and lows and never more than a phone call away (unless she out shopping, and then I might have to wait an hour or two),” Wilson chuckled.
Terresa Odum and Kim Fifer
Terresa F. Odum, MBA, CPC, CCS, and Kim M. Fifer, CPC, CEDC, are both coders who have been friends for almost 15 years. Odum, senior clinical reimbursement advisor of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Services at Carilion Clinic, met Fifer, who is the coding manager of physician services at the same clinic, after she decided to go back to work when her children began school. Odum said, “When I first came back to work, after staying at home with my children until they started school, I found my way into the coding field. My first job as a coder was at the company where Kim worked.” Fifer was the person who trained Odum in coding, and who helped her fall in love with the profession. Odum eventually left that company for a better opportunity. She said, “Shortly thereafter, Kim also left the company and joined me where I was working.”
Odum and Fifer also share a love of running and have participated in many races together over the years. Often while on training runs, they will have coding discussions.
Both have served as presidents of the Roanoke, Virginia, local chapter and helped organize many coding events. “We have found much success in our careers due to our coding background and experience,” said Odum.
After being best friends, working colleagues, and coding buddies for so long, they “have shared many coding stories, have helped each other resolve coding questions, and have served as coding resources for one another,” according to Odum.
Nicole Wilson and Nicole Rodriguez
Nicole Wilson, CPC-A, is a provisional float coder with the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation. Her bestie’s name is Nicole, as well — and she’s a medical coding specialist. Wilson met Nicole Rodriguez, CPC-A, at their current place of employment about two years ago. Wilson said, Rodriguez “moved into the cubicle next to mine, and we’ve become closer and closer since then.”
While Wilson works in a variety of departments, including emergency medicine, oncology, rehab, cardiology, etc., both ladies bounce questions and scenarios off each other all the time. “It is so helpful to have someone to talk things through with!” said Wilson.
The two are members of the Madison, Wisconsin, local chapter and they go to chapter meetings together. Nicole Wilson is the member development officer. Both really want to attend HEALTHCON together soon.
One thing that bonds these BFFs is laughter. They both have a great sense of humor about everything, including coding. Wilson said, “We find and share a lot of coding-related jokes with each other, too. It’s a great way to add fun to a work day!”
All kidding aside, their friendship runs deep. Wilson said, “We are always there for each other no matter what. If the other needs someone to talk to or vent to, the other one is always there to offer suggestions or options, if possible.” The feeling is mutual, says Rodriguez: “She’s always there for me when I have issues or need a friend to talk to, as I am for her.”
They both look forward to any extra time they can spend together outside of work and family time. “Any time we can actually hang out and talk in person is a great time!” said Rodriguez. “Sometimes that time includes taking all the kids somewhere fun, meeting up for lunch or a drink, or just hanging out at someone’s house,” said Wilson.
Your Next BFF May Be a Member
If it weren’t for Edwards and Judy Wilson’s decision to serve in an AAPC leadership role on the AAPC Chapter Association, they would have never met at the AAPC 2010 National Conference. Serving together on the board of directors led to their wonderful friendship. They want to recognize AAPC’s hand in the friendship and encourage members to get more involved in their local chapters, and perhaps, involved on the national level. “I encourage members to step up and serve at the national level — had I not done that, I would not have met Judy,” Edwards said.
Wilson said, “I am so grateful for the friendship we have come to know because of us being coders, and I want to support AAPC. So to AAPC, thank you for giving me Brenda Edwards, my buddy.”
Some Coding Besties Meet in Unique Places
Kira Flint, CPC, COC, CEDC, didn’t meet her coding best friend, Lauren Berry, while coding or networking. Although they are co-workers at CIPROMS, Inc., in Indianapolis, they actually met before they started working together. Flint said, “We met as Irish dancers and we still are.”
At CIPROMS, Berry works in billing as a supervisor and Flint works as the coding department trainer. Flint said, “She’s working on her CPC® credential doing the AAPC online courses and should be done in a couple of months.”