From Student to Instructor: Meet Portland’s Mindy Burns Smith

medical office administration, health care careers, concorde career college

When 28 years on her feet as an operating room nurse began taking its toll, Mindy Burns Smith started pursuing other options for a life working in health care.

Today, the path she chose led her full circle, back to Concorde Career College, where she’s an instructor in the Medical Office Administration (MOA) program.

When it’s time for a change…

About the time the physical nature of being an Operating Room nurse started telling Smith’s body it was time for a change, she attended a seminar on medical coding and billing and realized that her vast background and clinical knowledge could come in great use in medical office administration.

Soon after, she ran across an advertisement for Concorde’s Portland campus that happened to mention its Insurance Coding & Billing (ICBS) program.

“After a phone call to the school, I met with admissions and got an immediate good vibe when I came to campus and met everyone,” Smith said. “So, I enrolled and started the ICBS program in Nov. of 2004.”

Going back to school for a second degree certainly wasn’t easy for Smith. Not only was she an adult learner returning to class after an absence of nearly three decades, but she was a single parent to two boys.

She also needed to keep her full-time nursing job to make ends meet. Most of her days consisted of rising at 7 a.m., work until 3:30 p.m., grab dinner, travel to school, complete her homework in the Learning Resource Center, attend class from 6-10 p.m., go home, kiss her boys goodnight, go to sleep and repeat.

And Another Change…

Despite the hectic schedule, Smith graduated from the ICBS program in Sept. 2005 and went to work in a urological surgeon’s office a month later as office manager, back office nurse, biller and coder.

When that doctor started talking about retirement, Smith started looking for something else in the coding/billing area and saw a posting for an instructor position at Concorde-Portland.

It Can Lead to Good Things

It just so happened the program director was one of her former instructors. Smith started teaching at Concorde part-time in June 2011 and became full time in Jan. 2012. In Oct. 2011, the ICBS program morphed into the Medical Office Administration program.

“I draw on my experiences in the office every day,” Smith said. “The MOA program is a wonderful way for students to get some experience and hands-on practice to help them get an entry-level position in medical facilities and offices. Once they get that beginning experience, they can go on to better jobs and certifications to expand their horizons using the Concorde foundation they learned in the program.

“I would recommend Concorde to any student looking into this type of career because the whole team is dedicated to helping them gain useful, practical knowledge in the health care field. I had a fabulous experience as a student here. It helped me get a great job and then allowed me to be able to come back and pass on my knowledge and experiences to the next generation of students.

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Davina Thomas-Clark | Medical Assistant, Vocational Nurse graduate

“I have taken the MA program and the LVN program. Concorde is a wonderful school. There is a difference between passion and a paycheck, and most of my instructors had a passion for what they do. The program was challenging but well worth it. I love this college!”

Marcus Streator | Respiratory Therapy graduate

“Without the support of certain instructors … I would not have pushed myself to grasp the concepts and pass my boards on the first attempt. Once I passed my boards, it was less than one month after that I landed my first Respiratory Therapist job where I am currently working with so much joy every day.”

Trenisha Jones | Dental Assistant Graduate

“I decided to go to school because I was tired of working dead-end jobs. … When I found out I was pregnant, I realized that I needed a better life for me, for my child, for my husband, and just to better myself.”

Andrea Nolan | Dental Assistant graduate

“Knowing I could be working as a Dental Assistant in eight months was crazy to me! I loved going to class and would drive an hour there every day. I’m truly happy that I took the step to go to Concorde. It was the best thing I have done for my family.”

Michelle Cardona | Dental Assistant graduate

“Literally a year-and-a-half ago, I was struggling to make ends meet and barely surviving. Now I have a career, make good money, and life gets better every day. I have recommended friends and family go to Concorde, because in as few as nine months, your life can completely change for the better.”