Becki Woodhams is currently the program chair for the MIBOA program at Ross. Becki has been with Ross since 2005 and has continued to inspire her students and help them succeed in their medical careers. In addition to her passion for teaching and helping students, Becki also enjoys gardening, hanging out with her family and dogs, and playing pickleball.
We sat down with Becki to hear her story.
Here is what she had to say:
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
So I am the program chair for the MIBOA program. I have been with Ross since 2005. I started as an MA admin instructor. I was a day instructor in Flint, Michigan. Then I was an assistant director at Davidson as well, but Flint was my primary location.When I first started, my goal was to move over to the medical billing and coding department/program because I was more passionate about that, and I was able to do it after some time. I did that for a bunch of years. Then I stepped back to being an instructor. It was just really difficult with having a family and everything. It was definitely tough to find a good work life balance. Then the pandemic happened. So my goal became to transition the MIBOA program online. We realized it could stay online for good, and there was no reason it needed to go back to the classroom. So the conversion took place at the end of 2020.
What led you to Ross? Have you always been in healthcare or was Ross your first exposure to healthcare?
I’ve been in healthcare for a long time. I actually still do work part time for the doctor that I’ve been with for over 20 years. So I still do that on the side. But no, I kinda just fell into it. My husband was actually job hunting, and he saw an ad for an instructor a while back. He brought it to me and he goes, “You could do this!” I’m like, wow, yeah, I could. So I started teaching as an evening instructor while I still worked in the doctor’s office, and I did that for a number of years. Then my doctor’s office job became work from home. So I was like I can still be a teacher at Ross and still do this on the side and so it kind of flip flopped to where now Ross is my primary employer and the doctor is more of a part time job. It also helps that Ross is not my nine to five. I do a lot of night tutoring and live virtual sessions like lectures, so the flexibility definitely helps a lot. The two jobs fit together really well and they mesh with my lifestyle.
How has your experience at Ross been so far? Do you have any memorable experiences or moments?
My experience at Ross so far has been amazing! It’s such an amazing feeling when you put your all into helping students succeed and then seeing them graduate is just such a heartwarming feeling because you know how much work they put in and how bad they wanted it. Also, my mentors have made it a really wonderful experience for me as well. For example, the campus directors that I’ve had as mentors have had a huge positive influence on me.
Did you have any people that inspired you along the way?
For sure. I mean I’ve worked with so many people over the years, and some of them are no longer with Ross, but probably the main one that is still with Ross is Julie Leibold. She’s now a regional director. She was my director for many years and she taught me a lot about how to handle difficult situations.
What are some important lessons that you’ve learned so far?
I know it’s gonna sound so cliche, but hard work will pay off for sure. Your goals can sometimes seem impossible to reach, but by getting started, they become more and more attainable. Also, personally speaking, I’ve had quite an extensive weight loss journey, which was successful. So it’s not just Ross that this applies to, but also everything else in life. Getting started is the hardest part. When we had redesigned the assistant director position, and they first posted it, I was really super excited and then I quickly found out I didn’t qualify for it. I was missing something on my resume. So I sat down with my regional at that time, and we went over the resume and I asked her what I am missing. She told me and I went back to school for three semesters, and I fixed the problem. Then the next time the position became available, I was offered the position because I fixed what I needed to improve on. It’s not always the easiest thing to fix the problem or to get started, but once you get going, it’s not too bad. I always tell my students all the time that you can’t wait for the job. You have to go out and do it. If the job you want requires something more on your resume, you need to go out there and get it.
What advice would you give to students who want to pursue a similar path as you?
A piece of advice I’d give to students is that sometimes you just have to start. Even if it’s at the bottom. I started at the bottom with a low wage, worked my way up, and added certifications along the way. But you’ve got to be willing to do anything that the office needs you to do. It makes you valuable and teachable if you’re willing to learn anything. I have cleaned my fair share of treatment rooms even though that’s not in my MIBOA job description. I still do it. You’ve got to be willing to just pitch in whatever it takes for the office to be successful and learn things that are outside of your job description because it helps you see how everything fits together. When you understand how the clinical department operates, you can see how sometimes their mistakes cause billing and collection issues, and then that is where you can redesign the system if you understand it.
What are a few things that you wish you knew before going into the medical field?
I’d say networking. That’s definitely a huge one. In our industry, unfortunately, it is about who you know. There are many organizations out there for billers and coders that can help you. So if you don’t know anybody then maybe joining a local billing and coding group in your area might be a good idea. I moved from Michigan down to Georgia almost two years ago. I didn’t know anybody down here. But I joined the coding group. I’ve been to many in person meetings and met people from all of the hospitals around the area. So you’ve just gotta get out there and meet people. It’ll help you more than you can imagine.
What achievements are you proud of?
Definitely the conversion of the MIBOA program to online. It was a lot of work. A lot of redesigning because the model we had as an in person program didn’t 100% convert over in a successful way. So we had to make a lot of changes. And this past year, especially, we’ve had some significant changes, but it’s been pretty successful. During the pandemic, we had a two week notice to transition over so everyone was hustling as hard as they could. We were all furiously recording video lectures during those two weeks. I was constantly working to have about three days worth of lectures ahead of time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
So my advice isn’t necessarily career related, but I would say that to anyone who is currently in their 20s, it gets better. My children are now in their 20s, and they’re kinda like in the broke years of their lives. I remember those so well. So I think it’s important to mention that it gets better and easier. You have more money as you get older. Especially once the kids grow up or get out of the house. It isn’t stressful forever. It’s just that your 20s are really hard and confusing.
A fun fact about you.
In the spare time that I do have, I love to hang out with my dogs and take care of my yard. I’m also a big pickleball player. It’s huge down here in Georgia, and now I have a nice group of friends that I play with.