Michele A. Wrightson, CCS-P
Michele Wrightson is the Director of Coding for UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. In this role Michele oversees the physician coding for one of the largest medical groups in the Northeast. Michele oversees the work of Coding Specialists who abstract coding from operative reports, procedure notes and anesthesia records for professional billing.
We asked Michele what first drew her to HIM as a career.
“After spending 15 years in a job that gave me no self-satisfaction, I decided I wanted to consider my options. I went back to school and was introduced to Medical Coding. As soon as I started the classes, I knew it was for me. (Even to this day I still love the coding part of my job!) My first job out of the program was in a coding specialist role, abstracting CPT codes from operative notes. It was the first time in my life that I actually could say that I loved my job and looked forward to going to work every day. From there I moved on to the role of the Supervisor, then Manager and now Director of Coding. I can honestly say that I enjoy what I do and hope to always continue to!”
What advice would you give your younger self about work in general or the HIM profession specifically?
“The advice I would give my “younger” self would be to continue on with my education. HIM is such a broad field with so many options to choose from. Finding the one area that suits you is key. Currently, I am finishing up my bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management, which has taken me longer than most to complete (13+ years), but I finally should be done by the beginning of next year.”
There are so many options in an HIM career. How did you find your area? The one that suits you?
“I found that I love the CPT system and physician coding. I spent one year overseeing Medical Records Coding and found out that just wasn’t my thing. I don’t regret making the move that year because I would never have known if I didn’t at least give it a try. My advice to anyone is that you keep trying until you find what area suits you most. There is nothing better than having a job that you like and enjoy doing every day!”
So what is next? Where do you want to go in your career?
“That’s a good question. If you asked me 16 years ago, where I wanted to go I would have said that I was happy just being given the opportunity to be a coder. I never would have pursued management in this field. But as it turns out, I really enjoy training people to do what I love to do.”
Is there a new challenge on your horizon?
“While I do like the job I am in currently, I sometimes wonder what it would like to be a consultant. So that may be something I could pursue in the future. For now, I am happy just doing what I am doing.”
Any last words of wisdom?
“I encourage anyone who wants to be a coder to pursue it! It was the best thing I ever did!”