The Exciting Prospects of a Career in Phlebotomy

Healthcare and allied fields offer a wide array of career opportunities. If you get proper training from reputed institutes and acquire relevant experience you can grow in your career and earn well in your job.

One of the fastest growing streams in allied-health field is phlebotomy. If you are aiming for a well-paying and bright career in this sector you will do well to learn more about phlebotomy and its exciting growth prospects.

A phlebotomist is a specialized clinical support worker who collects blood from patients for testing and examination in laboratories. It is the first step involved in determining the accurate health condition of a person.

The term ‘phlebotomy’ is derived from Greek words ‘phlebo’ which means pertaining to blood vessel and ‘tomy’ which means making an incision. A phlebotomist will be able to make a proper incision in a vein and take blood sample from the body safely.

Let us learn more about this exciting career opportunity.

What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Phlebotomist?

As a phlebotomist you are responsible for collecting blood and other specimen samples from patients. The process of collecting blood from veins is called venipuncture.

You will be trained in the scientific process of bloodletting using a tourniquet and a butterfly needle. You will have to collect blood samples in different tubes containing specific additives and send them for various lab tests.

Since you may deal with patients having severe illnesses and handle infectious samples, you will also be trained in the use of protective gear like gloves and masks which are essential to avoid accidents.

Another responsibility of a phlebotomist is the safe disposal of used syringes, tubes and other medical wastes. You also need to develop effective communication skills to pacify and calm worried patients.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

You can join a phlebotomist program if you have completed your high school diploma or equivalent, or GED (General Education Development test). Some programs also require you to submit proof of certain immunizations.

What Are the Relevant Educational Programs for Becoming a Phlebotomist?

To practice as a phlebotomist you need to complete a certificate program, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in phlebotomy or clinical laboratory technology.

What course of study you go for should be determined by where you want to be perched on the career ladder, a few years down the lane.

If you aim to jump start your career then a certificate program will be good for you. You will get trained intensively and exclusively in techniques, procedures, equipment, medical terminology and human physiology relevant to phlebotomy. Certificate programs are brief and give you adequate classroom instruction and practical training.

An associate’s degree will give you a more comprehensive training focusing on general education as well as developing your phlebotomy skills. This will help you get into more specialized roles in the future like that of a lab technician or a medical assistant. An associate’s degree also gives you more flexibility after graduation.

A bachelor’s degree is more time consuming and advanced in the training it offers. The degree prepares you for supervisory jobs and more specialized roles like that of a medical technologist.

American Institute of Healthcare and Technology provides Phlebotomy Technician Training in CT.

What Are the Additional Skills You Develop as Part of Phlebotomy Curriculum?

In addition to phlebotomy skills you also will attain substantial knowledge of relevant medical chemistry. This is needed for proper understanding of the process of phlebotomy.

Thorough knowledge of human anatomy and physiology will help you deal with potential complications during blood extraction. You will also be trained to assemble, adjust, maintain and use lab equipment in a proper manner.

Phlebotomy involves expert knowledge in collecting and culturing specimen samples from the patients. You will be trained in medical information systems and will learn to enter patient data and information following proper protocols and procedures.

Reputed phlebotomy programs also include courses in human psychology and interpersonal communication. You need to polish up your people skills which will help you communicate with patients, calm them down and analyze any visible symptoms.

What Are the Certification Requirements for a Phlebotomist?

After you have successfully completed your educational training you need to be certified by a reputed and recognized body. Major associations offering certifications in the US include the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), the National Phlebotomy Association (NPA) and the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

It is necessary that you gain practical experience in addition to classroom training. This will give you hands-on experience that employers value and look for.

Each state will have different rules and regulations regarding licensing and legislation requirements. There are also state-specific regulations pertaining to the minimum qualifications needed to practice as a phlebotomist.

Check what is applicable in your area and follow all guidelines.

Salary Outlook

When you start out as a phlebotomist you can expect a healthy annual salary in the median range of $20,000- $25,000. The average salary of a phlebotomy technician in Connecticut is between $33,500- $35,000 per annum. Your earnings also go up as you gain more experience and supplement your education and qualifications.

Conclusion

As per Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, employment for phlebotomists is expected to grow at a rate of 10% through 2018. So be a part of this growing sector and you can very well place your career on a fast track.

Electronic Health Records: Technology is a two-edged sword

Electronic Health Records (EHR) is one of the most popular buzzwords in US healthcare circles. While it seems like an ideal situation that all healthcare units and doctors will use electronic health records, the path to digitization of health records is not as simple as it appears.

Earlier, doctors and healthcare institutions maintained all the patients’ details and relevant documentation in paper files. The information included data such as medical history, doctors’ notes, doctors’ diagnosis, medications and prescriptions, reports of lab tests, radiology and other reports, allergies and immunizations, and all other information related to a patient’s health. With the advent of computerized systems, personal computers and the internet, it was only a matter of time before electronic record keeping started becoming acceptable. The ease of storing and retrieving electronic data over the internet without limitation of geography, quickly progressed the idea of electronic health records or EHR in the medical fraternity.

There is a wave in favor of EHR and many doctors and healthcare institutions have implemented EHR for a majority of their administrative processes, considering the enhanced quality of healthcare which is possible when a doctor has entire health history and information of a patient available online at his/her fingertips.

This transition from paper to digital is being undertaken and many studies are taking place regarding the efficiency of this transition and post-transition process. The Journal of American Medical Informatics tells us that according to a new study, one of the primary challenges surfacing in implementation of EHR, is patient safety issues.

Internet networks are prone to downtime. Network outages may occur at an important juncture in the healthcare process. Also, there is always a possibility of hardware or software glitch due to which the doctor may not be able to access patient information immediately. This can lead to delay in clinical decision making; and while this may be manageable in non-critical cases, it may lead to serious complications in case of critical cases which require immediate medical attention and treatment. There is also the danger of the computer networks being hacked and information of a patient being stolen or its integrity compromised.

Another major challenge is training of medical personnel in using the Electronic Health Record EHR system. Reasonable time and cost gets invested in training. Also, the users also need extra time post-training, to familiarize themselves with the system and achieve desired speed of use without manual errors. If there are changes in the software or in the law, training is required yet again and time is needed to familiarize oneself with the new system as well. Patient data entry too involves time, cost and effort.

Data collected since 1999 from Informatics Patient Safety Office of the Veterans Health Administration (VA), offers an expansive insight into several other major challenges of EHR implementation. One of the often quoted challenge is display of patient information in the software, which may not show the desired information at the right time, may be cumbersome to understand or slow to access; leading to delay in availability of information. Another challenge arises when the software is being upgraded or modified. Bugs may appear within the software and sometimes data migration can pose difficulty. If new software is being installed by another vendor and the old one is being replaced, in this case also data migration can pose serious difficulties.

It is true that implementation & usage of EHR is inevitable; however it is also true that effectiveness of electronic health records is going to remain a major area of concern and challenge for the medical fraternity. There is a long winding road ahead before EHR becomes a headache-free solution for maintaining patient records.

ICD-10: Benefits and Challenges

The scope of Billing & Coding Specialist is expanding greatly with ICD-10, the tenth and latest upgrade of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a list created by the World Health Organization (WHO).

While chance is always challenging, it brings forth a fresh set of benefits, opportunities and difficulties. Let’s take a quick look at 4 major advantages and 3 major disadvantages of ICD-10:

Advantages:

  • Better Patient Care: The first benefit is the most obvious. Patient care is the primary purpose of any improvisation in healthcare management. ICD-10 greatly increases the level of detail, leading to higher ability in measuring quality and safety of healthcare. The detailed data analytics will help healthcare practitioners, healthcare managers, and healthcare administrators & policymakers; in creating better standards, efficient structures and procedures, lowering risks, and better policies.
  • Better Research: The better detailing data management with deeper data analytics will enable healthcare practitioners and researchers to find better cures and procedures. ICD-10 will provide space for accommodating advancement in medical techniques; something that the saturated ICD-9 no longer provides for. The expanded codes will allow finer correlation of medical conditions with their cause, treatment and final result.
  • Better Resource Utilization: ICD-10 provides healthcare administrators the data to determine the time and resources spent on treating a medical condition. This provides them with better decision making tools for more judicious resource allocation and achieves better clinical outcomes without compromising on the quality of healthcare.
  • Better Claims Processing: Higher detailing in data along with inclusion of newer and advanced medical procedures, makes ICD-10 a claims-friendly code. The improved availability of specific data will reduce denial of claims and the time required for processing claims.

Disadvantages:

  • New Training: The number of codes in ICD-10 is 150,000; while ICD-9 had 18,000 codes. This is a vast expansion. Earlier the doctor could notate something general, for instance “Pain in the Limb.” Now, the doctor needs to notate very specifically, including the area of pain in the limb, whether it’s the left or the right limb etc. Both the doctor and the billing & coding specialist will require new training programs to cope with ICD-10 requirements, otherwise the doctor / healthcare institution may lose out on billing.
  • Slowdown during The Transition: The transition to ICD-10 will lead to slowdown, at least in the transition period which could last for a while. This slowdown can be due to two reasons. The first one is training, which will require extra time to be invested. The second reason is that execution will require new degree of meticulousness as well as back-referring to the books, which will temporarily slow down the productivity.
  • Reimbursement Uncertainties in Initial Period: While it has been proclaimed that there will be no variation in payout, the new coding structure might lead to lower billings in the initial period. This could be due to lack of complete understanding of how the new coding system works and doctors might miss out on important notations which eventually lead to lower payouts.

As we can note, ICD-10 comes across as a mixed bag for the healthcare industry. However, most of its challenges are temporary. The benefits are long-term and have the potential to evolve healthcare to the next level.

Medical Billing & Coding Specialist Career

As medical needs and facilities expand, so does the need for legalities and documentation. Medical billing and coding specialist provides the necessary expertise in maintaining the administrative and business aspects of the health care industry.

Medical billing and coding specialist perform a vital responsibility of all modern health care offices. Whether it is a large hospital, an individual doctor’s medical practice, or anything in between; medical billing and coding specialists are crucial to their functioning. Unless the medical billing and coding specialists do their job, the medical staff at the health care facilities will remain unpaid, the medical facilities won’t have the money to run their centers, and the health care entire system will shut down.

What do Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Do?

Core Duty

The core duty in a medical billing and coding Specialist’s career is to ensure that the medical bills are processed and money is received from the insurance company.

Methodology

The medical billing and coding specialist studies the medical chart. Then, he allocates the relevant medical billing codes for all the medical services provided, such as the diagnostic medical tests undertaken, medical procedures used etc. He sends these codes to the insurance company for processing the claim and receiving payments.

These codes may be submitted manually or electronically, as required. With the advent of computing technology and the internet, the process is becoming increasingly electronic. Nowadays most of the submissions happen on the internet through online portals that are designed specifically for this purpose. Specially designed software is also used, and the medical billing and coding specialists must be well-versed with the relevant software.

All this use of electronic media has made the medical billing and coding process simpler and cut down on the processing period. At the same time, the process now requires good knowledge of computing and internet usage, and this has leveled the field for young entrants who don’t have the experience but are better at computing skills than the experienced medical billing and coding specialists.

Other Responsibilities:

Completing the processing cycle:

The medical billing and coding specialist’s job does not end after the coding is done and claims are submitted to the insurance company. The medical billing and coding specialist must then follow up with the insurance company for release of payment and ensure that the payment is received in minimum amount of time.

In case the claim is denied and rejected entirely or in parts, the billing and coding specialist analyzes why the claim got rejected; and proceeds to re-code and re-submit the bills.

While this is not an official justification; but it is largely believed that the primary difference between an experienced and inexperienced medical billing and coding specialist is not just the speed of coding and claims submission; but it is also the ability to achieve quick turnaround of submitted claims with lower rejection rates.

Patient Billing

While one aspect of billing handled by the medical billing and coding specialists is between the health care service provider and the insurance companies, another aspect consists of managing the patient-side billing.

Patient-side billing takes into consideration all the health care services rendered including the diagnostic tests, procedures for treatment, drug prescriptions, follow up visits etc. These details are converted into a professional billing format and sent to the patient. Any amount not covered by insurance and being charged to the patient, is usually mentioned on this bill.

Office Duties

Based on the employer, there might be additional jobroles for the specialist apart from medical billing and coding. These could include patient records filing, records management, client handling, answering phone calls, patient scheduling, receiving and sending emails etc.

Freelance Medical Billing & Coding Specialist Career

One big advantage of being a medical billing and coding specialist is that the professional can work as a freelancer or consultant. The medical billing and coding specialist can setup his home office and find outsourced work from health care service providers. Due to increased use of information technology, the home office model has become even easier. The basic records and data is sent over the internet to the medical billing and coding specialist, who codes the data and submits the bills electronically over the internet to the insurance company for processing.

Pharmacy Technician Career Information

A pharmacy technician’s career in the US is expected to remain in continuous demand over the entire next decade; which is the primary reason why people of all ages are eagerly training themselves to enter this professional health care career.

Basically, a pharmacy technician performs a very crucial role in dissemination of health care. He/she manages the back-end work and logistics of a pharmacy; and also assists the pharmacist in carrying out his/her duties effectively and error-free.

While pharmacists dispense medicines, the pharmacy technicians manage and sustain a pharmacist’s job. The pharmacy technician measures and counts the medication dosages and mixes them If required, before labeling and storing them.

While this may seem like an easy and clerical role with mundane duties; the reality is quite different. A pharmacy technician needs to be meticulous, hard working, and most importantly, needs to remain informed about all the changes in the field of medication. The CEO of National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA), Mike Johnson, says that the pharmacy practice changes almost on a weekly basis. This makes it essential that the pharmacy technician always stays at the forefront of these changes and remains constantly updated.

Pharmacy Technician is a high-growth career

There is a tremendous projected growth rate of more than 20% between 2010 and 2020 in the demand for pharmacy technicians in the US. This means an additional job creation equaling 70,000+ new jobs! With these figures, this remains as one of the topmost high-demand jobs in the USA (including Connecticut) for the current decade.

This huge surge in demand is fuelled by longer life expectancy, increasing population, and higher medical needs for a constantly expanding group of senior citizens & baby boomers who are now turning 60 and beyond. Moreover, the consumption of prescription drugs is at an all-time high, and new prescription drugs are being approved on a regular basis; further increasing a pharmacist’s user base.

Pharmacy Technician Eligibility Criteria in Connecticut

A high school degree or equivalent is required to enter the profession. Further training can be received on the job, at community colleges, or vocational training centers. Typical training programs for pharmacy technician are lesser than one year in length.

Pharmacy Technician’s Career Prospects

There are various avenues within the health care industry where a pharmacy technician can find job openings. This provides a good degree of variety and opportunity for specialization or growth.

Pharmacies and drug stores are the largest employment providers of pharmacy technicians. They employ about 50% of all pharmacy technicians. Hospitals (government and private) are a distant second, followed by general stores / grocery stores and ambulatory health care services. Opportunities may also exist in GP practice, military and primary care where the pharmacy technician works under the supervision of a pharmacist.

Experience and extra learning can lead a pharmacy technician into more specialized areas. Some examples are areas such as management of medicines, manufacturing and quality control, electronic health records (EHR), supply chain management (SCM), training, clinical trials, or information management Larger health care setups may have a hierarchy within pharmacy technicians, where a chief or senior pharmacy technician may be supervising the junior pharmacy technicians.

Pharmacy Technician’s Work Requirements

A pharmacy technician also deals with sick patients or persons who have come to purchase the medicines for someone who is sick. This requires people handling skills and customer management skills, as well as the ability to deal with anxious patients who need a friendly face behind the counter and can make them feel better and also cared for.

Apart from the technical knowhow and people skills, a pharmacy technician needs good physical strength as the work hours can be long, and a lot of work is done while standing or moving around. The person needs to be meticulous and painstaking; as any mistake in labeling or storage can lead to losses and trouble. A lot of pharmacies function round the clock and hence working in night shifts is usually required.

Phlebotomy Technician Career

Phlebotomy is an in-demand career in the US. The eligibility for entering the career is also convenient. A career in phlebotomy offers good salary, opportunities for growth, professional and social respect, and the satisfaction of helping people in diagnosing their illness and playing a crucial role in treating their illness.

What does a Phlebotomist Do?

The primary task in a phlebotomy technician’s career is to draw blood from the patient’s veins by using a needle and a syringe. Sometimes, vacuum tubes or butterfly venipuncture are also used.

The fluid or tissue samples are then labeled and stored using the suggested procedures. The collected samples may be required to be transported to another location, in which case the phlebotomy technician will use pre-defined process to ensure safety of the samples during transport.

Once the sample has been taken and stored, the phlebotomy technician disposes the used materials. This is done in accordance with the laws, hygiene standards and organizational policies. He cleans and organizes the blood drawing trays organized, and sterilizes the relevant equipment.

The phlebotomy technician enters the information regarding the patient, sample collection, insurance, billing, tests etc. into the computer. For this, the phlebotomy technician uses a word processor and a spreadsheet, such as MS-Office or Star Office. There may also be specific software being used by the institution, and the phlebotomist should be able to use the same for entering relevant data. Some popular software used by health care institutions are Donor Management System, MobiLab, Meditech Blood Bank etc.

Phlebotomy is a medium preparation skill. The phlebotomy technician is required to have a vocational training, in-classroom or on-the-job; but it does not require elaborate degrees or research skills.

Phlebotomy Technician Career Path

The growth path of a career in phlebotomy can be progressive and rewarding. While the core skill is common, there are various different areas in which the phlebotomy technician can work. Some examples are patient care technician or nursing assistant. Experienced phlebotomy technicians can find themselves in administrative and managerial positions where they are supervising junior phlebotomy technicians.

Phlebotomy Technician Employers

The employer pool is also diverse. The phlebotomy technician can look at working with an employer in an area of choice. The list of various employers includes health care facilities such as medical laboratories, physician’s clinics, small and large hospitals, doctor’s offices, medical centers, children’s health centers and elderly care centers. Apart from health care facilities, other employers include blood donation centers, academic institutions and vocational training centers.

Phlebotomy Technician’s Work Environment

The phlebotomist has a front-office job. He faces the patient and the jobrole involves high level of human interaction. The work environment is fast paced and the schedule is usually full. Dealing with sick people and anxious relatives can sometimes lead to irate situations, and the phlebotomy technologist is required to maintain calm and work under such pressure. During medical emergencies, the phlebotomy technician is required to step up and work accurately without being distracted by the environment.

While there may be occasional emergencies or irate patients to manage, usually a phlebotomy technician’s work is more routine. The procedure is almost risk-free and safe.

As most health care institutions work 24×7, there is a possibility of working in shifts with flexible timing options. Some phlebotomy technicians also visit homes for collection of blood samples.

How to become a Medical Assistant in CT

Medical assisting is a career that enjoys a continuous growth in opportunities, and is largely unaffected by the post-2008 slowdown in a large number of employment segments of theAmerican economy. This has elevated the profession of a medical assistant to the high-demand zone in the job market.

Medical Assistant Career in CT

This high growth in the medical assisting career is visible in the state of Connecticut as well. Becoming a medical assistant in Connecticut is simple, but it takes commitment, effort, patience and the willingness to learn. The state’s medical assistants receive higher salaries as compared to most other states in the US, they have a spate of opportunities with workplace options within the health care industry, and they enjoy a good status in the society (being a health care professional,) even without a medical or nursing degree.

How To Become A Medical Assistant In CT:

The entry barrier for becoming a medical assistant in Connecticut is a high school diploma / GED certificate or equivalent. This is relatively low as compared to most other jobs in health care. As the basic academic qualification of completing high school has been achieved by majority of the state’s residents; it paves way for opening up the profession of medical assisting to almost anyone who is willing to spend some time to acquire knowledge, is ready to remain professionally flexible, and is willing to learn a new set of skills through classroom and practical training.

The candidate will need to provide specific health information about himself, and undergo various medical tests as well. These tests include basic fitness levels, physical examination, checking for infections and infectious diseases, current record of immunizations, test for tuberculosis etc. Apart from medical information, the candidate will also be required to furnish academic qualifications, background and identity check documents, as well as a legal permit to work (in case of foreign workers).

Certification of Medical Assistants in CT:

Certification for medical assistants in CT is provided through the CMA (Certified Medical Assistants) examination conducted by the AAMA (American Association of Medical Assistants.) While there are various agencies who conduct the CMA examination for certification of medical assistants, Connecticut utilizes the AAMA for CMA examination and certification.

The aspirant can apply for the examination through the AAMA website. On filling the form and making payment of fees, the candidate will receive further details pertaining to the CMA examination, within a span of 30 days. The exam carries two hundred multiple choice questions in three broad categories, viz. general duties, administrative duties, and clinical duties of a medical assistant. The questions must be attempted within 3 hours. On clearing the exam, AAMA will confer a CMA certificate on the candidate. This certification is nationally recognized and is valid across the US.

Connecticut however, does not require medical assistants to be certified for the purpose of employment. Hence, getting a CMA certification is entirely optional.

Training Programs for Medical Assisting in CT:

While there is no necessity in Connecticut of formal a CMA certification from AAMA, the profession requires some initial training before a medical assistant. This enables the candidate to independently contribute at the workplace. This training may be acquired at a community college, a vocational training school, or even on the job itself. Employers prefer pre-trained medical assisting candidates as they are able to immediately be a part of the team without consuming time and energy in additional training.

Vocational training schools are usually preferred as they provide focused training programs of sufficient duration without unnecessary academic formalities or unrelated electives. The Medical Assistant training consists of classroom hours and practical exposure through externships in health care setups.

Work Environment:

A medical assistant can work in all types of health care setups. These include public and private hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics, ambulatory care, tele-medicine centers, emergencies and disaster management teams, government agencies etc.

A health care setup is usually hectic and buzzing with activity. Also, health care setups may typically function 24 hours of the day. Moreover, requirements during emergency cases may be particularly demanding. The medical assistant is required to be able to cope with this mental and physical stress at work.

Skills Required:

Medical assisting does not require elaborate skills in surgery or medicine, but they have to be skilled in the areas of assisting in management of a patients’ treatment. This includes an entire gamut of work, depending on the nature of the workplace.

The core duties of the medical assistant are the medical duties. These include phlebotomy (drawing blood through venipuncture), sterilizing and maintaining the surgical equipments, checking and noting blood pressure / sugar levels / basic vital signs, assisting the nurse or the physician etc.

Apart from the medical duties, a medical assistant would also be carrying out administrative duties. These include the front desk management (reception area), handling patients and their friends & relatives, answer the phone, key-in and manage data for administrative requirements, handle the communication ( post / fax / email ) etc.

There is also a component of managing the paperwork such as filling statutory forms for insurance purposes, managing patient data, and manage electronic health records.

The scope of a variety of work duties would typically be larger in a small health care setup; whereas the scope of work would be narrower in large health care setups where a bigger team of specialists and health care professionals is working together.

Sometimes, medical assistants may be focused on a single area of specialized health care such as ophthalmology, pediatrics, cardiac care, endocrinology, oncology etc. Each such area of healthcare has special needs which the medical assistant fulfills. For eg., in an opthalmologist’s clinic, the medical assistant may check eye pressure or help the patients with their contact lenses; whereas in a pediatrics clinic the medical assistant may be handling little children and telling parents how to care for a sick child. Hence, while the broad nature of work remains similar, actual duties of a medical assistant change depending on the employer.

Medical Assistant Salary in CT:

Connecticut ranks amongst the top 5 states for medical assistants in the US in terms of remuneration for services rendered. The average salary of a medical assistant in Connecticut is $ 34,260 per annum ($ 16.47 per hour). More than 7,000 persons earn their livelihood as a professional medical assistant in CT.

With an aging baby boomers generation, increase in demand for primary care as well as ambulatory care, and the heavy workload of electronic health records; the demand for medical assistants is projected to continue rising consistently throughout this decade.

How to become an Echocardiography Technologist

Becoming an Echocardiograpy Technologist consists of a high school degree or equivalent, an ambition for a career in health care, and the readiness to train and learn new skills.

What does an echocardiography technologist do

Echocardiography Technologists use ultrasound sonography to accurately evaluate the pumping ability of a person’s heart.

The echocardiography technologist accomplishes this by creating an echocardiogram. The echocardiogram (popularly known as ‘echo’ for short), provides important visual information about the physical integrity of the heart’s structure and its functioning. The echocardiography technologist applies the sonography device on the left chest region of the patient and the sonography machine passes ultrasound through that area of the body. The resulting echo is captured by the machine and displayed on a computer monitor as image or video. The same is stored for use by the physician who can make decisions regarding the health of the patient’s heart based on this information.

The echocardiogram provides information about the measurements, size and shape of the heart. It is able to provide visual data about the efficiency of the functioning of the heart’s valves. The echocardiogram depicts how well both sides of the heart are communicating, and the speed at which the blood is pumping out of the heart. All this data can help in diagnosing conditions such as coronary and artery disorders, heart valve disorders, heart enlargement disorders, thickening of the heart’s walls etc.

How to become an Echocardiography Technologist?

Echocardiography technologist is learnt through structured training programs. These may be either (1) On the job, or (2) In a vocational school, community college, or training center. With growing demand and increasing legalities in healthcare, on the job training is not widely preferred. Employers prefer candidates who have been pre-trained in echocardiography at a professional training center, and can contribute to the revenue immediately after joining.

How to become an Echocardiography Technologist?

Echocardiography technologist is learnt through structured training programs. These may be either (1) On the job, or (2) In a vocational school, community college, or training center. With growing demand and increasing legalities in healthcare, on the job training is not widely preferred. Employers prefer candidates who have been pre-trained in echocardiography at a professional training center, and can contribute to the revenue immediately after joining.

Eligibility

A high school diploma or equivalent is the eligibility required to receive training and enter the echocardiography technologist profession. This lower entry barrier makes the profession accessible to the American adult population at large.

The Education Required:

The echocardiography technologist undergoes a variety of subjects and courses as a part of the education and professional training process. The subjects cover not only medical terminology and anatomical understanding, but also the administrative and people handling aspects of working in a health care institution.

The courses usually cover directly relevant areas to echocardiography such as:
  • Ultrasound instrumentation: Understanding the purpose and use of ultrasound equipment used in echocardiography
  • Echocardiography: Performing the echocardiography procedure using the ultrasound equipment
  • Physiology: Understanding the parts and organs of the body
  • Anatomy: Learning the structure of the human body
Apart from the above directly relevant medical knowledge, other important knowledge that is imparted includes:
  • Pharmacology: Understanding the use of drugs and medicines as well as their effects
  • Pathology: Learning about sampling body tissue for medical diagnosis Knowledge about relevant laws and legalities
  • Doing lab practice to learn the usage of equipment and procedures
  • Practical exposure to understand the challenges of real-work environment and applying the classroom knowledge on real patients
  • Primary communication skills and patient management skills
  • Handling basic administrative duties and records
  • Methods for storage and reproduction of echo photos and videos etc.

Specializations:

The echocardiography technologist can undertake further specialization. For eg. pediatric echocardiography, which specializes in echocardiography for children.

Employers:

Echocardiography technologists can work in various healthcare surroundings such as large and small hospitals, at cardiology clinics, at imaging centers, or specialty healthcare centers.

How to Become a Billing & Coding Specialist

The Billing & Coding Specialists ensure that the health care system continues to run smoothly and efficiently. They act as a connecting link between the health care practitioners, administrators, insurance companies, and legislators. Billing and coding specialists are not directly involved in health care and do not perform any clinical duties; but they are crucial to overall administrative and business functioning of health care system.

Major Duties

The billing and coding specialist provides proper coding on the patient’s entire treatment process. Some important areas include medical history, medical diagnosis, tests undertaken and treatment prescribed; follow ups and results, modifications in treatment etc. These details are carefully and correctly entered into the prescribed system, and the information is private, secure, and legally protected. All coded medical records are used for billing and the same are shared with the patient as well as the insurance company, wherever applicable.

Employers

Medical billing and coding specialists have a range of various types of employers, all of whom are primarily involved with the health care billing process.

The most obvious employers are health care institutions and medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics and private medical practices.

Other employers for medical billing and coding specialists are
  • Insurance companies
  • Ambulatory care centers
  • Medical equipment suppliers
  • Health care consulting firms
  • Public health agencies
  • Medical billing companies

Apart from full-time employment, part time and contractual work-from-home opportunities may also be available for billing and coding specialists.

Training

Training can be of two types (1) On the job and (2) Professional classroom training.

On-the-job training used to be popular in the past. But with growing demand and increased complexity of the profession, along with the legal ramifications in case of mistake or discrepancy, employers are increasingly looking for pre-trained employees.

Prior to gaining employment, an employer will interview / test the candidate on his proficiency of the prevalent billing and coding standards. The candidate must gain mastery of the same in order to gain meaningful employment and good remuneration.

Some candidates might go for Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS), Certified Billing & Coding Specialist (CBCS), and Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certifications. These certifications are not compulsory. Experience and knowledge are the basic requirements for gaining employment and career growth as a medical billing and coding specialist. A good training program usually prepares you to sit for these exams and be able to clear them.

Skills to Be Learnt

A good training program is designed to impart requisite knowledge about billing and coding basics, medical terminology, HIPAA privacy laws, and regulations & control.

Some important skills acquired during training that are required to perform duties as a billing and coding specialist include:

  • Remaining in purview of legal concepts, such as, living will, power of attorney, advance directive and guardianship
  • Understanding and being able to explain the HIPAA privacy rule
  • The methods and rules for protecting and disclosing Protected Health Information (PHI)
  • Knowing about health insurance requirements
  • Understanding how health insurance fraud occurs and how to prevent fraud and abuse
  • Accurately understanding the codes from ICD-9-M, CPT, HCPCS Level II Coding Manuals
  • Assigning codes from ICD-10-CM Official Draft Code Set
  • Doing the documentation for an insurance claim
  • Using the EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)
  • Knowing about manual and computer aided coding
  • Generating manual and computer aided billing
  • Having required knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, diseases, treatment processes, pharmacology etc. for being able to accurately maintain, code and process documentation
  • Ingrain ethical and moral responsibilities, and understand legal responsibilities of the role
  • Having good communication skills and people handling skills, ability to work alone as well as in a team

Phlebotomy Technician Salary in CT

The average phlebotomy technician salary in the state of Connecticut, USA is between $ 33,500 and $ 35,000 per annum (the variation is based on location within the state). The hourly wage calculation works out between $ 16 to $ 17 per hour.

Salary Overview

Phlebotomists (or phlebotomy technicians) are amongst the first persons a patient meets in his course of medical diagnosis. Phlebotomy technicians draw and store blood samples, and also transport them to the laboratory wherever required. Their duties also involve high level of patient interaction and require good people skills. They are also required to perform administrative duties such as labeling, storing, transporting, maintaining of registers, writing reports, safe disposal of used items and medical waste etc. Obviously the nature of work makes phlebotomy an evergreen profession, and it earns its place in the list of occupations which shall remain recession-proof and provide an ever expanding list of work opportunities. Phlebotomy technician’s skills are utilized in medical diagnosis, medical research, transfusion and donations.

Phlebotomist’s Salary in USA

As per BLS 2012 data, there are about a hundred thousand phlebotomy technicians working in the US. They earn an average annual wage of $ 29,730 per annum ($ 14.29 per hour).

Beginners of the bottom ten percentile wage earners in phlebotomy can expect to get paid around $ 21,340 per annum ($ 10.26 per hour).

At 25 percentile, the wage of a phlebotomy technician increases to $ 25,110 per annum ($12.07 per hour).

At 75 percentile, the salary increases to $ 35,920 per annum ($ 17.27 per hour); while phlebotomy technicians in the top 10 percentile can make around $ 42,600 per annum ($ 20.48 per hour).

These figures show that a phlebotomy technician can look forward to opportunities for increase in salary along with experience, as there is ample growth for change.

The salary earned by a phlebotomy technician can vary based on experience, location, type of employer, size of employer’s work operations etc.

Phlebotomist’s salary in Connecticut

In the State of Connecticut, 1500+ phlebotomists are employed. Considering the smaller size of the state, this is a large number as compared to most other American states.

The mean wage for phlebotomy technicians in CT is approximately $ 35,000 per annum ($ 16.82 per hour).

A further look at the data gives us the salary range in detail.

The lower ten percentile of phlebotomy technicians in CT make around $ 26,430 per annum ($ 12.71 per hour).

A 25 percentile, this increases by 15%. The salary at this level is $ 30,400 per year ($ 14.61 per hour).

On the higher side at 75 percentile, the data shows a salary of $ 38,850 per annum ($ 18.78 per hour).

At the highest level, the top 10 percentile of phlebotomy technicians in Connecticut earn about $ 44,810 per annum ($ 21.55 per hour).

These figures about phlebotomy technicians’ salaries; rank CT in the top 10 states in the US with highest salaries for phlebotomy technicians.

Factors affecting Phlebotomist’s salary

Geographical Location: The same profession of phlebotomy pays differently in different cities and states across America. Primary factors influencing these differences are cost of living, location of health care center, competition, demand-supply gap of phlebotomy professionals etc. Also, urban areas typically pay better than semi-urban or rural areas.

Type of Employer: Hospitals or large health care setups pay the highest salary to phlebotomy technicians. In chronological order, the next four employers who pay the highest salaries to phlebotomists are diagnostic labs, doctor’s offices, colleges / universities, and ambulatory health care services.

Work Conditions: Apart from regular salary, there may be additional income based on work conditions. Some examples are earning overtime, earning shift bonus, special allowance in remote areas or areas with hardships, working in specialist centers, working with tougher groups such as children or emergency / trauma patients etc.