Dawn Tavares. Medical Billing & Coding Instructor Meets The Challenge Of COVID-19

Success Stories

Dawn Tavares, Instructor

CPC, AS Health Science, BSc Healthcare Management

While this story was being written, life changed dramatically. As COVID-19 quickly emerged, Dawn rose to the challenge of not only transitioning her own students to the Zoom platform for online learning—she set up and coached other instructors to bring their classes on-line. A student of hers praised her ability to continue delivering education without even missing a beat. Another student told us she had been nervous--she had experienced difficulty when taking online classes in the past. Now this student loves how all of her resources are in one place. We thank Dawn for being frontline in supporting staff and students to adapt to changing educational technology. Working together we will be strong than ever!

Dawn brings 20 years of experience in the medical industry to teach MTTI’s students.

“I was 15 when I started working after school for a surgeon as a file clerk and receptionist. All of the medical records were on paper. Since then, I’ve worked for private medical practices and health centers as a Biller, a Coder, a Medical Coding and Billing Coordinator, a Clinical Documentation Analyst and a Billing Manager. While a Billing Manager / Coder, I oversaw four locations and taught providers how to code.”

Teaching different learning strategies to a child inspired the way in which Dawn teaches adults.

“I came to appreciate how important it is to use visual, auditory and kinesthetic methods. In the Medical Billing & Coding program at MTTI, I ‘show’ and ‘tell’ students, then have them ‘do it’. The PowerPoints I use are visually rich with graphs and pie charts—and make extensive use of color. Students get a printed copy of the PowerPoint. I discuss everything we are learning related to the data and codes. About 50% of the course time is dedicated to hands-on practice of tasks that are the same or similar to those performed in a medical billing, coding or office position.”

Dawn strives to meet students’ learning needs so they can begin new careers.

“I want students to be well-rounded—to know a little bit of everything. That way they will be able to use what they’ve learned in school and expand upon the skills and knowledge to advance in their careers. At MTTI, we stress professionalism. Both in class and working with Career Services, students can polish their personal presentation and communication skills to enhance their employability.”

This year Medical Billing & Coding students will go through the program largely online. 

“Some people are new to online learning; I’ll help them learn how to use Chrome Books. With the Director of Educarion, I will continue to modify the material to meet different classes’ learning needs. We want to get a good balance between online, chrome books and traditional printed materials. I’ll be asking for feedback from my students so I can continuously adapt the material according to what they tell me they need. “

The challenge of billing and coding is what drew Dawn into the medical field.

“If you thrive on change, you may enjoy a billing and coding career. I like researching—and keeping up-to-date with the regulations and requirements of different insurers. Some people say they like working in the industry because every day is ‘always something different’. I like the challenge of how it is always changing.”

Billing, Coding and Medical Office Administration offers good career opportunities.

“The field is vast. After school, there are so many different avenues you can pursue, depending on your personality and interests. Positions include front desk, billing and coding in medical practices, community health care settings, hospitals and in private billing companies or insurance companies.”

Dawn says, “Personally, I am captivated by how coding goes hand-in-hand with billing.

“I’m a ‘money person’.  I’m always looking for strategies to decrease A/R (Accounts Receivable) status—the patient collectables—that will bring in more revenue for a practice. I like the challenge of figuring out how to code for the maximum reimbursement amount—that’s what a good coder does. Because I have successfully increased revenue for medical practices, I can pass this knowledge on to students.”

Coding is a direct translation of what office procedure or surgery the provider performs on the patient.

“The code you assign determines what the patient is reimbursed. Choosing the most correct CPT codes depends on having some knowledge about anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and medical / surgical procedures. We cover all of this in the Medical Billing and Coding program—especially in preparation for the Certified Professional Coders exam.”

A student told Dawn he felt a comfortable connection with her when they first met.

“My student told me that knowing his learning needs would be met at MTTI increased his confidence he could learn medical information. To be effective as an Instructor, you have to be positive and provide support. If you give students a good, positive learning environment, they will meet you more than halfway. I want to make people comfortable about learning so they get the most out of the program.”

“You need to be an effective communicator—clear and concise—and a bit of an entertainer.”

“If I see students’ attention is starting to drift, I think, ‘How can I liven this up?’  I draw on my own enthusiasm for billing and coding. Just as I have been captivated and intrigued by coding and insurance, I try to inspire the same in students. As an Instructor, it is my job to give them incentive—to make them want to participate. If I can do that, they will want to come to class each day.”