Healthcare Faculty Jennifer Barker: Helping Students Realize Their Dreams

Healthcare faculty member Jennifer Barker loves helping students succeed: "I can’t think of a more rewarding occupation than helping students realize their dreams can come true."

Jennifer began her journey in the healthcare industry in 1996. She knew healthcare was the right field for her, but she preferred not working on the clinical side of the business. She started out working in the medical billing department at a Durable Medical Equipment (DME) company, and she came to realize that this position was just as important as any other position in healthcare. She states: "I have always taken great pride in making sure patients' claims were coded and filed correctly to ensure proper reimbursement. I knew this was a way of giving our patients peace of mind that their claims were handled properly and it was also important for the healthcare business as well."

She was later promoted to Medical Billing and Coding Manager for a very busy urgent care facility that has two locations. At the time, neither location was using Electronic Health Records (EHR). Besides managing the billing and coding department, she was responsible for credentialing all of the providers and also helped to spearhead the launch of Electronic Health Records in both facilities. This was an exciting and exhausting time for her, but well worth the effort: "I enjoyed my job, but I knew there was much more that I wanted to do. I really wanted the opportunity to give back and to share what I had learned over the last twenty plus years. I also knew that to do this, I had to go back and complete my education and complete my coding certifications."

She then began to pursue her college education several years ago; however, due to various reasons, she decided to put her education on hold for awhile. She was a single mom for many years - and like many single moms - sometimes she worked two jobs or worked one job with many long hours. Four years ago, she crossed paths with a an old friend from high school that she had not seen in thirty years. He asked her out on a date, and the rest is history! One year later they were married - fairy tales do indeed come true! Her husband and their children are Jennifer's biggest supporters, and they encouraged her to go back and finish her education. So, at the age of 52, she finished her college degree, and also became a Certified Coding Professional through AAPC and a Certified Coding Specialist through AHIMA. This was also the same year that her youngest granddaughter was born, so she likes to tell her students: "You are never too young or too old to dream a new dream, or to set a new goal. Your only limitation is you."

After college, she then immediately began looking for open teaching positions. She states: "I have always had the desire to teach and I wanted to help make an impact on students' lives and to encourage them to reach their goals." One day out of the blue, she received a phone call from Marjorie Rosen, the Healthcare Program Director at Bryan University. After a phone conversation and then a face-to-face meeting, Marjorie asked her to do a Zoom video conference interview with her and three other faculty members. Jennifer recalls: "I was so nervous, but I was determined to give it my very best shot. Not only did I make it through the interview, but to my great delight, Marjorie offered me the position as an adjunct Healthcare Faculty! I’m so thankful that she saw something in me that day and gave me the opportunity to realize my own dream by sharing my experiences and knowledge with my students." She continues, "Since then, I have become a full-time Healthcare Faculty Member at BU and I am so thankful for this opportunity to do what I love to do, every day. I have always heard if you love what you do then it really doesn’t seem like work at all. That’s the way I feel about my job at BU!"

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