Amanda Bufkin has helped build theaters, casinos, hotels and more in the course of nearly 25 years in construction.
“I’ve worked on the movie theater when it was in Clinton and hotels in San Antonio and on Tybee Island in Georgia,” Bufkin said. “And I can’t even remember how many places I’ve worked on along the Gulf Coast. I love to travel and it’s thanks to working in construction. You can make good money, but at the same time it takes a toll on your body.”
To that end, the Clinton native and Raymond resident is now building something that she had put aside long ago – her education.
“I’ve enjoyed the work, but I don’t want my body to break down in a few more years,” she said.
Bufkin, 43, is on track to graduate in spring 2022 with an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Data Technology, all while taking her classes online, working a full-time job at a custom signs manufacturer and being an attentive grandmother of two. It represents a cornerstone of sorts for her education thus far, which ended when she dropped out of high school her senior year and joined her mother’s and stepfather’s construction business.
“My mother and I were the only females on the construction site except for the cleanup crew,” she said. “I did that until 2011 when I came back to school at Hinds for my GED.” In 2016, she landed her current job through a staffing agency.
Her career change to healthcare grew out of a love for taking care of people and watching her relatives do the same.
“My grandmother was a nurse who worked at Hinds General and an aunt of mine was a head cardiologist on the Gulf Coast,” she said. “But, the sight of tissues and blood just wasn’t for me. I always wanted to be part of the healthcare field, and now I can do that because there’s always been a need for people to work in the background. They need people to help do the billing and assist doctors in entering patient data correctly.”
The Medical Data Technology program at Hinds Community is designed to provide its graduates with the knowledge and skills to fill a high demand for trained medical billing and coding personnel as the industry continues a transition from paper records to electronic data.
Graduates are trained to ensure accurate data input, diagnostic and procedural coding, and claim submission for insurance reimbursement to comply with private, state and federal law. Expertise is developed in organizing and evaluating patient health records through a mix of courses from anatomy and physiology to medical terminology, inpatient and outpatient coding, medical insurance billing, and the legal and ethical aspects of health information.
She says making deadlines and attention to detail are strengths she’ll take from the construction yard to the billing rooms.
“In coding, you have to be meticulous when managing the details,” she said. “You can’t just fly through something in the medical field. You have to be detail-oriented and pay very close attention to it. That I learned from my grandmother.”
Ginny McCarty, Bufkin’s adviser for online coursework, counts Bufkin among those already job-ready as a result of her diligence keeping up with her work.
“Amanda is a motivated student who is dedicated to her studies,” said McCarty, Business Office Technology Instructor. “Fellow instructor Tracy Smith and I find she is diligent in completing her work on time and produces quality work. She is developing the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to complete her degree and to make her a successful employee.”
For her part, Bufkin appreciates her own instructors being thorough and available.
“I’ve enjoyed coming to Hinds,” she said. “All my instructors have been truly amazing. Plus, Hinds cares about students – they want to see you succeed and they provide you with every possible path to success there is.”