Patsy Virden has a fun-loving personality and witty sense of humor. She grew up in Texas and saw many of her friends and sisters leave to college, but Patsy preferred to stay at home. She eventually made her way to Arkansas and began working in the health insurance industry.
More recently, Patsy worked with the Medicare team of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas. When Blue Cross lost the Medicare contract, Patsy decided to head back to Texas, where she began a job at La Esperanza Health Clinic. After a year of working at the clinic, Patsy suffered two major strokes. Patsy was grateful to be home in Texas surrounded by her family who helped her heal, notably her mother, who she credits as her inspiration. Shortly after Patsy’s strokes, her mom passed away. Patsy knew she needed something more; something to keep her going through this devastating time.
When Patsy decided to apply for a new job, the recruiter suggested that Patsy consider going to college to obtain additional skills while working. Patsy later spoke to a representative of Bryan University about the Medical Billing and Coding program, and decided to enroll in the program because it aligned with her career goals.
Patsy felt anxious about starting college, especially after everything she had just gone through. After speaking with the BU representative who helped her understand more about the program and learning that she could attend from home online, Patsy heard her mother’s voice encouraging her. “As I spoke to the BU representative and she told me her story, I felt we had so much in common and she understood what I was going through – I knew I was making the right choice.” This program would be a perfect fit: she had experience in medical insurance and billing and was excited to learn more about medical coding and medical records.
Patsy struggled in the beginning. Her memory suffered a bit from the strokes, and she had to get used to the quick pace of her courses. All her professors were incredibly supportive and motivated her when she needed that extra push. She worked hard to remain active in school and stay on top of her classwork and homework.
She says: “I struggled, but once I got the hang of it and stuck with it, I made progress. I would go back, read a chapter, and re-read it again. I had to keep motivating myself – I was doing this for my mom. Anytime I questioned if I could do this, I could hear her telling me yes you can, yes you can.”
One of the first classes at Bryan U focuses on grit and perseverance, and the role your mindset has in success. Patsy learned that with a positive attitude, she would get much more out of her experience. Anytime she felt discouraged or felt she couldn’t do it – she would try to have a growth mindset and stay positive. Each time, she gained confidence in her ability to continue and succeed.
And she did succeed! Patsy worked hard, learned the material, and sought help when she needed it. Her experience with insurance and medical billing gave her an edge, and she soon realized that she could help her classmates. Patsy became a tutor for others. She would set up Zoom tutoring sessions with her classmates to help them work through the coding material.
She also loved being a member of the Medical Coding Club at Bryan U. Patsy remains close to her classmates-turned-friends, saying: “We keep in touch and check in on each other.” Patsy was especially grateful for her BU mentor, Glenda. She always encouraged Patsy and challenged her. With her encouragement, Patsy studied and sat for the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) exam through AHIMA – and passed!
Patsy recently started working again in the field, and she thanks Bryant Curtis, her BU Career Services Advisor with helping her throughout the process. He helped her find jobs to apply to, and also encouraged her along the way.
“Bryan University exceeded my expectations. From what I learned and what I have seen, I loved the environment and the people.”