Career Profile: Medical Assistant - Jill Vroegindewey, CMA
Michigan healthcare management professional Jill Vroegindewey started her three-decade healthcare career as a medical insurance coder in the billing department of a radiology group. She considered it just a job while she was attending Western Michigan University with an eye on a bachelor’s degree in business. Jill earned her Certified Medical Assistant certification along the way.
When the group’s office manager unexpectedly left the practice for another job, Jill was promoted. One opportunity led to another within the practice. For a time, she scaled back her schedule to work two days a week to accommodate her growing family. The position grew with her availability, and a series of streamlining moves between hospitals and practices led to a marketing/human resources role for the same radiology practice, then to her current role as the diagnostic marketing liaison for Bronson Methodist Hospital/Dept. of Radiology in Kalamazoo, Mich._
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Jill’s CMA certification requires 60 continuing medical education credits every five years for re-certification eligibility; she was first certified in 1987. Her business studies plus her CMA status served to pave the way in her healthcare management career in what she describes as a series of opportunities. “I’ve been very open to new experiences and career paths,” she tells MedicalSchools.com.
Tell us about your career. How did you break into the medical field? How did your career unfold to allow you to advance to where you are today?
I went from a job in the billing office of a radiology group to deciding to attain my CMA certification. At that time, certification did not translate into additional benefits or pay, but it brought great personal satisfaction. My boss had been there 20 years, and unexpectedly left to go to another job. So I became the business office manager, which at that time also included the role of controller, and continued to attend Western Michigan University a few classes at a time. It was an interesting time, right at the beginning of computerization of files; before that we used the punch hole data cards.
When I started my family, I was able to cut back to part time; working two days a week calling on referring physicians in support of our radiology services, and basically catering to their needs. For nine years, eventually stretching the two day a week schedule to a four day a week schedule, I called on the physicians. This is where my medical assisting certification really paid off as I was able to speak intelligently with referring providers with regard to every aspect of our services.
When the controller retired, my educational background in business made me a natural. I guess you have to have a willingness to have opportunities presented to you for consideration, something that I have done throughout my career. Classes and certifications in human resources as well as the CMA opened all kinds of doors for me. I became HR/Benefits manager and served in that role for seven years.
In 2003 my radiology practice merged with another group – more than tripling the size of our practice. This merger eventually led to a joint venture between one of the hospitals we served and our radiology practice. When this change occurred, I wasn’t sure if they would need me around. A new position was created for me, the first year, jointly paid by the practice and the hospital. It has resulted in more business for both the Joint Venture and the hospital radiology department. Once again, I am calling on referring providers to talk to them about the exciting things happening in diagnostics, including how to order our services and access testing results through the internet. Although my role is marketing radiology services, my knowledge base is broadening to include lab services. There is a learning curve, but less of a curve for a medical assistant than there would be for a straight marketing background person. The CMA has given me the opportunity to do cross-training.