Kayla Garafano, MTTI 2015 Medical Billing and Coding / Office Administration Graduate Success Story.

Success Stories

Kayla Garafano

2015 Medical Billing and Coding / Office Administration Graduate
Coding and Compliance Associate at Priority Management Group (PMG) in Pawtucket, RI
Update: Kayla has recently accepted a position as Medical Biller and Coder for HopeHealth in RI

“MTTI is an amazing school where you learn a new trade and gain a second family. Anyone would be proud to go to MTTI!"

I studied entrepreneurship and accounting at Johnson & Wales—my goal was to start a restaurant. I worked in the restaurant industry, cooking and doing every job imaginable. I liked some aspects—but I didn't like the whole enough to see myself in the industry long-term. Instead I found I enjoyed working with numbers and accounting.

While working at Chelo's on Warren Avenue, I would see the MTTI graduation celebrations held at the restaurant.

I didn’t know MTTI offered billing and coding. Encouraged by my girlfriend, who was working as a Medical Assistant, I looked into billing and coding. I liked that I was able to meet the instructors; I could see and feel their passion for teaching. I enrolled 5 days before the class started.

It wasn’t easy to learn anatomy and codes.

During the program the instructors always had our backs when we were struggling.  Ms. Roc had a unique way of teaching—for example, having us play charades to learn anatomical terms. The most difficult was coding for cardiology—but it was one of Ms. Roc’s favorite topics to teach. We made flash cards to learn terms. Every week someone in the class made a study guide to distribute to the class members and then we had a test or quiz every Friday.

The class became very close, very fast.

We knew everything about one another. This helps because you are not doing it alone.

The search for shadow sites was initially scary for me.

We began during the third month—we didn’t yet know what we liked. It was nerve wracking to walk into offices and say to someone, ‘I want to see what you do.’ I was very shy and anxious about talking to people. The processed opened me up and gave me courage.

Ms. Roc mentioned PMG; at that time they had a small office in Warwick.

I called Jennifer, who said, ‘Come by—no problem.’ We had a long talk, during which she outlined what I would see. When I went there on shadow day, I was offered an internship.

During the second week of internship Jennifer asked how I was doing, and I told her, 'I really like it here'.

I didn’t know she was already talking to her director about hiring me. My final day of internship was Thursday—that evening I graduated. On the following Monday, I started work as a Coding and Administrative Support. I pulled medical and billing records from clients to send to the operations team to audit. During internship, I had learned ICD 10, because PMG was getting clients ready to go live. After being hired,  I assisted Jen in teaching clients ICD 10 coding. ICD 10 has added a thousand codes or more—codes are still being added.

When the Warwick office closed, I was fortunate that PMG felt I would be a good fit for a compliance position at their other office.

I interviewed and relocated to the Pawtucket office. I was ready for the faster pace and prepared to help our clients. I moved up to the position of Coding and Compliance Associate. At this time I work with clients by telephone doing web-ex (online) trainings. I’m working up to doing live on-site trainings.

There is a lot of opportunity for learning and growth in the billing and coding industry.

Many coders have 2 or 3 jobs; they can work remotely, full or part time or on-site for companies.  A smaller group of positions are starting to grow—someone might go into the office for training, possibly work a couple of years, and then work from home with deadlines for tasks. With all of the codes being added, medical billing and coding is never dull—I’m constantly learning something new every day. This has been the biggest appeal for me; I like the challenge of learning and sharing with clients.

PMG’s Compliance Department has about 35-40 clients—we split them.

I have 5 of those clients. I am responsible to help them with coding and HIPAA questions, and offer medical record reviews by looking at charts of their providers. I might ask a client, ‘You coded for this but did you document correctly—or enough—to support those codes?’ I might offer trainings based on the final outcomes of those medical records. If a client is concerned about something, we look into it. We don’t go over the PMG team leader or account manager in making recommendations; we work side by side with them.

That’s just what we do for our clients—we also function as the compliance department for PMG.  We make sure our staff is compliant by setting up their annual training and doing interim internal trainings.

Eventually, in addition to my job at PMG,  I may do some part-time remote coding from home, on nights and weekends.

But I like working at PMG—there is room to grow. I especially enjoy training PMG clients and helping them see their potential. Good coding increases revenue and keeps companies safe in the event of audits.

At least once a week I will read something, or a co-worker will say something, that I remember I learned at school.

The instructors have the experience—they are not just teachers, they were—or still are—working medical billers & coders. They give you the one-on-one hands-on experience to do what they do. You don’t find that at many places.

You learn so much about yourself that you hadn’t realized before.

During internship, my supervisor asked me to cover her on a web-ex. I had to tell 100 people how to code with ICD 10. My Billing and Coding instructor, Ms Roc, said, “But you are so shy!” I responded, “Not anymore!”

If I had to choose again whether to enroll in MTTI’s Medical Billing and Coding program, I would do it all over again.

MTTI has been built by a family, so you know there is a tight-knit community feeling. Small classes make it more personal—we’re all working towards the same goal. We were all scared—MTTI works with you to help you overcome your fears. Give MTTI a chance to help you grow and learn!