Posted on Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Workforce WednesdayWhen she moved to the United States from Mexico in 2003, continuing to grow her successful career in finance was easier said than done for 44-year old Alma Zarate. After settling in Northern Virginia, a part-time teaching job presented the perfect opportunity to join the workforce and maintain the same schedule as her children. After spending a few years as a Spanish teacher and then as a pre-kindergarten assistant teacher, Zarate longed to continue her original career in Finance.

Zarate holds a bachelor’s degree in business and administration that she earned in Mexico but the process of transferring those credits to the United States proved arduous. She was also at a disadvantage, having taken a break from this field since 2000.

Zarate was able to find medical coding and billing classes at the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) campus near her home. Students at NVCC come from 170 different countries and speak 15 languages.


Alma Zarate

Zarate enrolled in a series of classes including Medical Terminology for the Allied Health Professional, medical billing, coding and collections – part I, medical billing, coding and collections part II, medical revenue cycle management, and a certified professional coder preparation class.

After completing the classes, Zarate took the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Exam, administered by the American Academy of Professional Coders. She received her CPC certification in March 2013 and by July was working in the medical coding and billing field.

“I am satisfied with the education that NOVA Loudoun Campus was able to provide me. The staff was very courteous when I walked in to enroll in the classes; the teachers were very friendly and always prepared. They knew the class materials really well and answered all my questions,” says Zarate of her community college experience.

About her new career, Zarate notes, “I like the learning opportunities that I experience every day and the variety of options it offers to branch out and explore new alternatives, such as medical auditing, medical billing and coding instruction, or start a new company in the field.”

“I would definitely recommend the community college to others as it offers flexible schedules and very good course content.”

Virginia’s Community Colleges provided over 68,000 individuals with workforce training during 2013. For more information, contact your local Community College Workforce Development Department.'

Amanda Christopher

Amanda Christopher is a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of the DC metro area, Amanda worked in public relations for the American Red Cross before joining the Virginia Community College System as the Workforce Communications Coordinator.

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