Wilmary Silva, 2016 Medical Billing & Coding / Office Administration Graduate
Lead Secretary at Coastal Medical in East Providence
I came to MTTI in a very emotional state, from the life events I had experienced. MTTI helped me get the training I needed to be successful at Coastal Medical, where I was hired. It’s a great, quick, hands-on training. The staff is wonderful and willing to help students anytime. Only three years since I’ve been back in the United States and I’ve gone from arriving with just five pieces of luggage to looking for a house to buy.
I arrived in the United States several years ago after leaving Puerto Rico.
I had five pieces of luggage, a small amount of cash—and my 8 year old daughter. I was 27 years old.
I was born in Providence, but moved to Puerto Rico with my father when I was 14 years old.
I returned as a single mom. My daughter experienced culture shock—she didn’t speak a word of English—only Spanish. She still misses the dogs, cats and horse she left behind.
In Puerto Rico, I had studied to be an English teacher and trained as a cosmetologist.
You had to know someone to get a teaching position. By the age of 25, I had held 25 or 30 retail positions. The wages were way below the cost of living.
Back in Providence, I worked first as a cashier at the Dollar Store.
During 2015, I was hired at Sam’s Club in Seekonk. I thought about starting school at MTTI when a friend of mine enrolled in the Medical Billing & Coding program. Instead I decided to focus on working and having some financial stability.
On January 15, 2016 I was laid off from Sam’s because the store was closing.
I was unemployed; I had a daughter to support. But I didn’t want to work in retail anymore!
The day I left Sam’s I came to MTTI to learn more about the Billing & Coding program.
I was tearful—emotional. I walked in to see the Admissions Rep, Cheryl.
Cheryl told me: ‘The program is starting today—it’s the first day of class-go!'
I had to call my babysitter to say that I wasn’t going home—I was starting school that day.
Four days after I started school, I was involved in an accident.
I totaled my car and hurt my back. Why was this happening? I just lost my job and started school. I want to change my life!
The school was very understanding; they agreed to hold my seat in the class.
The instructor told me not to worry. When I returned after a week, I was able to stay after class and make up work. Still, it was tough. I had no job and had to live on unemployment. I decided to dedicate myself to school; my main focus was finishing the program and finding a job.
MTTI’s training was consistent—we never had downtime and never had a dull moment.
I had expected to be bored during class like I had been when I attended the Community College for one semester. It was all talk at the college. Right from the beginning it was hands-on at MTTI. I was working on the computer, learning how to make presentations and practicing public speaking.
Ms. Roc, the Billing & Coding Instructor, always gave examples from real life.
We even went to Body Worlds to learn more about Anatomy & Physiology.
Ali, the Career Services Specialist for the program, helped me prepare to search for an internship.
She was especially helpful in practicing for interviews, including what questions to ask and how to dress.
The last place I visited on Search Day was Coastal Medical at Warren Avenue.
I walked into the first office I saw—It was the imaging department They directed me to the corporate office at Davol Square. The person I spoke with said, ‘Go for it—good luck!’
I showed up at the Corporate Office unannounced.
They asked if I had an appointment; I said, 'No'. I apologized for not knowing the process; I told them about my program at MTTI. Kindly they called Human Resources—she was in a meeting.
I got nervous waiting; my hands were sweaty.
I used the time to look up Coastal Medical using my phone. I learned that the organization has doctors in many specialties, including cardiology, pulmonary and internal medicine. They even have imaging and a laboratory. I thought, 'This is a place I would like to work for!'
When I met with the Human Resources Representative and gave her the run-through about me.
She liked that I am bilingual (English-Spanish). She asked if I had a resume, and I said ‘Yes’! She circled ‘bilingual’ and my phone number. She said, ‘Let me make some calls and I’ll get back to you'.
Less than an hour later, the HR Representative called me at home.
I was surprised to hear from her so soon. ‘We’re going to give you an internship’.
A week before internship was scheduled to begin, HR called again.
Coastal has an office in Providence Edgewood that serves a Hispanic community. Because I live in Providence and speak Spanish they decided I would intern there. I googled it and the office was so close to home that I could walk!
At the start of internship I felt overwhelmed.
I had no prior medical background. Ali reassured me. She said: ‘Yes you do! You did our course at MTTI and it is hands-on.'
I had the greatest Practice Manager.
She saw how well I was doing. A week-and-a-half before internship ended, she offered me a full time position working as ‘'check-out’' at that office.
I accepted the position.
I handled referrals and prior authorizations; I made orders and sent out orders. I made calls to document patient visits to Emergency Rooms at area hospitals.
While working at Providence / Edgewood, I saw a posting online for a Referral Coordinator position at Coastal.
I applied and got an interview. They told me they were going to hire me! I had only been employed at Coastal Medical for seven months. The policy was that I could transfer after one year—so I had to wait until August.
Instead of starting the Referral Coordinator position, they asked me to work in "check-in" at another Coastal location.
I had only worked in "check-out". but had some cross-training. I learned about "check-in" by watching videos and studying a lot. Coastal Medical is a great place to work for; they encourage learning and provide online and live training.
The office where I work now, at 450 Veteran’s Parkway, is the "office of the future."
We are going all-electronic for 'check-in'. The workflow is changing as calls and referrals are re-rerouted to the Call Center.
As the workflow changes, my focus is now to verifying charts.
I make sure charts are up-to-date, insurance information is accurate, demographics and emergency contact numbers are current and a credit card number is on file. I can also see if someone is using the Patient Portal, if not I can help them set that up.
I am passionate about patient communication.
I am a patient, too. I will not treat a patient the way I don’t like to be treated. I want to make sure I have the right information when I talk to a patient. If it is red—it is red, not pink. I make sure what I tell them is clear, and on their level, so they can understand.
In less than one year of employment, I was promoted.
When the Practice Managers saw me get in there and learn everything quickly, they told me, 'You are not going to Corporate to take the Referral Coordinator position—we are promoting you to Lead Secretary.'
Now I am overseeing the front office administrative staff.
I am second in charge; when our Practice Manager is out, I am in charge. I never say no to anything I am asked to do—even if it is challenging.
I came from retail to train for a medical career. MTTI polished me.
My instructors and Ali taught me how to present and express myself—to be a professional. Ms. Roc helped me by teaching a little of everything. I learned about insurance and how to gather information, to do a proper assessment and documentation. This helps at Coastal where I do many different things.
Ms. Roc also gave me a lot of support.
She always told me I would be successful. She saw I had that hunger and passion to learn and succeed.
I tell other students never to give up hope.
MTTI shrunk two years-worth of school into seven months—the course is not easy. But you are going to be successful—all the tools are here.
MTTI helped me get the training I needed to be successful where I got hired.
It’s a great, quick, hands-on training. The staff is wonderful and willing to help students anytime.
The door at MTTI is always open.
I saw graduates come back even after a year to get help updating their resume.