Ready for work; Seguin High School helps prepare grads for new careers

Friday, May 31, 2019

Main News Photo

Seguin, TX, USA / Seguin Today

Cindy Aguirre

May 31, 2019 12:45 am

Seguin High School Principal Dr. Hector Esquivel watches as seniors, bottom left to right, Christine Syring and Jasmine Venegas sign the necessary paperwork to begin their new jobs with Zenith Healthcare Solutions. The local medical billing company offered the pair of jobs to the students following their mastery of the medical billing and coding exam. Zenith representatives who helped inspired the business, school partnership are top right, Kristal Wessels and Michelle SiFuentes.

(Seguin) — Seguin High School has not only prepared kids for the real world, it’s also helped at least two of them land a whole new profession just days before Saturday’s graduation. After mastering the National Insurance and Coding Specialist exam, high school seniors Jasmine Venegas and Christine Syring are ready to go straight into work this Monday.

The students were among those who successfully passed the medical billing and coding exam after undergoing the program at Seguin High School. Insurance and coding specialists not only prepare and submit claims to insurance companies but they also prepare and send statements to patients.

The high school program is under the direction of CTE Teacher Michele Avalos. Avalos says it was just three years ago, that a group of SHS students obtained this certification for the very first time. Today, she says they are not only passing but being offered a job.

“We are still continuing to offer the same thing but this year, we have a company in the community called Zenith Healthcare Solutions who is actually offering the students a job in the medical billing and coding area so that they can continue on with that certification that they have, to get their experience and make this a start of a lifelong career if they want to,” said Avalos.

Kristal Wessels, the RCM manager for Zenith Healthcare Solutions here in Seguin, says not only is hard work required to master the test but she understands the competiveness behind securing a job.

“Zenith Healthcare started in January of 2018. We bought another billing company and bought all of their clients and it’s growing tremendously and quickly and so we were needing some help. Like Ms. Avalos said, my son was in the program two years ago so I knew the program existed so we reached out to her and let her know that we were wanting some entry level staff to come on and she let me know that she had a few that may fit the bill and we came in and interviewed about six of them and it was exciting to hear the young ones talk about wanting to make this their future because we’ve been doing it for 20 plus years and it’s an exciting career to get into,” said Wessels.

Avalos points out that jobs in these medical facilities are indeed very difficult to land and applauds the community partnership with Zenith.

“Medical billing and coding — all the jobs — they require that you have experience. Well it is so hard for us to get experience because you have to be 18 years old and all these different things and they are now getting out of high school and they want to go on with this and it’s hard for them to find a job. So for us to be able to find an entry level job that they are willing to take them and help them get that experience and have them build their future, I think it’s the most exciting thing for us and for them,” said Avalos.

Venegas, who is excited to enter the workforce, says this job offer is more than just a foot in the door. She says it sets her up for the rest of her life.

“First, I was going for like medical CNA but then I know Ms. Avalos for a couple of years now so she told me to get into this program so that’s how I started with her. So when my senior year came, I asked for this class. It’s a start for my plan. I’m going to college in the fall but it’s like for a way to have a job on the side too and save money so it’s going to help me a lot,” said Venegas.

Like Venegas, Syring is also excited about landing a job in medical billing. She says obtaining the certification, prior to graduating from high school, is definitely a one-of-a-kind opportunity.

“I was so excited. I didn’t think I was going to get picked. I was thinking about taking a year off and then going to the community college and then transferring to a four year but this is something I would like to do,” said Syring.

Avalos says the success of the program only illustrates the career readiness that students are afforded at Seguin High School.

“I think it’s amazing. I’m all about being a part of the community. Seguin is my home and so for me to be able to help educate the children to work in my community and make my community better, I’m super excited. Like, I love that. That’s why I’m here,” said Avalos.

Now although she didn’t land a job with Zenith, a third student, SHS student Kylie Yoemans also has plenty to celebrate. That’s because Yoemans has already passed the exam as a junior and has a chance to be offered an internship with the company.

“Well Ms. Avalos prepared us really well. We spent two weeks or something like that reviewing so we were really well prepared. I don’t want to say the test was easy but we were definitely prepared for it,” said Yoemans.

According to the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), testing is typically conducted on those individuals who have worked in the field for years or who have spent up to nine months or an internship to prepare for the actual exam. Courses for the certification are known to run as high as $15,000. The class, of course, was at no cost for the students at Seguin High School. Only materials and the cost for the exam were required.


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