ACC Parker: Connecting Passion with Opportunity

Parker Campus Cookies with the Manager

ACC Parker Campus Cookies with the Parker Campus Manager, Gwen Young

Day or night, our ACC Parker Campus bustles with activity. Early birds arrive at 8am while night owls work late into the night. With offerings to pursue a variety of certificates and Associates degrees, you can connect your passion to opportunity at our ACC Parker Campus. We have the talent and drive to help you meet your goals, regardless of what career and academic path you pursue. With a variety of student services, Guaranteed Transfer Courses and exciting new course offerings, our ACC Parker Campus staff can help you Move Mountains at the right place and right time for you!

Whether you are studying Business, Early Childhood Education, Computer Information Science or are taking electives for your degree plan, you’ll find ACC Parker to be a great spot to grow and learn.

ACC Parker - Pizza with the President

Pizza with the President at ACC’s Parker Campus

Our ACC Parker Campus is growing too! We are happy to offer more Health and Science offerings, preparing students and community members to thrive within the growing health care and science fields. With offerings such as Emergency Medical Technician Certification, Medical Terminology, Certified Nursing Assistant, Human Nutrition, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Pathophysiology, you can pave your path with our classroom to career courses.

Stay tuned for more Health and Sciences offerings as our ACC Parker Campus expands. Renovations will begin next year and will include more space for specialty programs, labs, and study areas!

Spring registration has started.  Give us a call at 303-734-4822 or visit us online, and let us help you connect your passion with opportunity!

Together, we can Move Mountains!
Team Parker

Finding a Balance – Work/Life/School/Holidays

Union Station, Denver, CO

Union Station during the holidays, Denver, CO

Let’s face it…this time of the year can be stressful. Between finals, holiday parties, work, and family, it can be hard to stay calm and stress-free through the holiday season.

We’ve put together a quick list of things you can do to keep the stress at a minimum and enjoy the holidays.

  1. Make a schedule and stick to it.
    Getting everything done can be daunting. If you plan your time wisely, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary stress. Plot a schedule of time for studying, holiday shopping, whatever you need to get done. Plan in small blocks to ensure you don’t get fatigued in any one area, or you may find your motivation wavers.
  2. Shop online
    Shopping online will allow you to check prices, find deals and save travel time going from store to store. Many online stores have free shipping deals as well. Take it one step further and ask family members to make a wish list. There are many online wish list tools like Amazon, Target, Walmart, and more that are free and easy to use. This will alleviate some of the stress of trying to find the perfect gift. You’ll know what they want and can build off of that if you want to get creative beyond that.
  3. Break you study sessions into smaller chunks
    By breaking your study sessions into small blocks, you’ll be able to review the material without it getting overwhelming. Just make sure you start early enough to get through it all.
  4. Don’t over-commit
    Just because you get invited to 17 holiday parties, doesn’t mean you have to go to all 17. Pick the ones that work for your schedule and won’t cause undue stress. Pick one or two where maybe you’ll see more of your friends and family so you can get more bang for your buck, so to speak. People will understand if you can’t make it to everything, especially if you let them know in advance and are sincere.
  5. Don’t forget to schedule downtime
    You need to recharge both your mind and your body. Schedule time to relax, read, workout, bake or whatever eases your mind and recharges your battery. You need to take time to take care of yourself so you don’t get bogged down by your responsibilities. It’s all about keeping your stress low, so do what makes you happy.
  6. Take time off
    Do you have vacation time stacking up? Use it. Just a few hours here and there can make a big difference. If you aren’t in retail, the holiday season tends to get a bit quieter, so you won’t be as stressed taking those hours off. If you are in retail or a job that is busier during the holidays, be smart about planning your work/school/holiday schedule. It can be tempting to put in those extra hours, just be sure you can fit it into your schedule.

Remember, take it one task at a time and don’t get overwhelmed. Ask for help when you need it and you’ll get through the holidays and even have some fun while this season.

What are your tricks to balancing your responsibilities this time of year?

by Jess Horning, Digital Content Administrator, ACC Marketing & Web

What does a medical coder do?

A medical coder will have, generally, the same sort of duties no matter what type of facility they’re employed in. From clinics to hospitals to physicians’ offices, medical billers and coders use medical codes to document patient diagnoses and treatments.

Specifically, their duties include:

  • Reading and analyzing patient records
  • Determining the correct codes for patient records
  • Using codes to bill insurance providers
  • Interacting with physicians and assistants to ensure accuracy
  • Keeping track of patient data over multiple visits
  • Managing detailed, specifically-coded information
  • Maintaining patient confidentiality and information security

While many medical billers and coders do work on-site in hospitals and clinics, they’re typically far-removed from where patient care is taking place. While you will be required to interact and communicate with physicians and assistants to a certain degree, much of your work will be independent from everything else that goes on in a health care facility.

It is also important to become familiar with different types of insurance plans, regulations, and compliance. The coding community has three critical resource books: CPT®, HCPCS Level II and ICD-10-CM along with their corresponding codes and guidelines. Using code books the medical coder assigns correct codes to record the service levels for the procedures performed and to account for supplies used to treat the patient during an encounter with the physician. Proper assignment of ICD-10-CM codes corresponds with the physician’s diagnoses and completes the “story” of the patient’s illness or injury.

How do I become a Medical Coder?

What is required is a solid understanding of anatomy, physiology and medical terminology. It is also highly recommended for serious coders to complete a medical coding course of study, pass the CPC or and earn their certification as a Certified Professional Coder, or pass the CCA exam and earn the certificate to become a Certified Coding Associate. Arapahoe Community College offers a 12-month, online, AHIMA-approved course which prepares students for either certification.

Where do I begin?

Attend an upcoming monthly information session at Arapahoe Community College Parker Campus. You can enroll anytime @ careerstep.com/acc or call Trena Green at (303) 734-3777.

by Lisa Lehn Mostek, MT/MCB Advisor, ACC Workforce Training

Veterans View – ACC Veterans Day Recap

Dawn Stratton and Bill Rose holding flag

ACC Testing Center Director and Veterans Club Advisor Dawn Stratton with veteran Bill Rose.

Veterans Day is one day of the year we really honor veterans, and the variety of ways this is done is amazing.

At ACC, we started the day off with Bill Rose (the husband of ACC student Linda Rose) by retiring the United States flag at the north entrance of the Littleton Campus. We carefully practiced in the Veteran Services Center with the new flag so that the motions would be synchronized. ACC police officers Al Stutman and Kevin Heylin stood by to assist with hoisting the new flag once the old one was retired from service. It had snowed the previous night and the day promised to be blustery, but as we stepped outside, the sun was shining and the wind was calm.

Bill is a Vietnam-era veteran and was so happy to have been asked to help with the flag retirement ceremony. He even put together copies of a flag etiquette brochure to hand out at our Veteran Services Center. Bill flew helicopters while he was deployed and it was evident that he had many stories from his time serving his country. He noted that it had been 20 years since he last retired a flag, but he knew exactly what to do. I felt Bill’s love for his country; visualizing a man who had fought in an unpopular war.

Bill and Linda Rose

Bill and Linda Rose

Bill and Linda spent the whole day with ACC veterans on Nov. 11. They helped serve lunch and spoke to everyone who came down for our Veteran Services Center open house. Their love of life was apparent as they happily listened to others and shared parts of their life with us. There is a certain grace found in those who have persevered through difficult times and fought to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Watching Bill and Linda with the younger vets who are still “hard in the battle”, so to speak, made me appreciate even more the hearts of those who serve our country.

We finished the day by taking ACC vets to a gala hosted by Veterans Passport 2 Hope held at the Wings Over the Rockies. ACC police officer Joey Lovett, who also serves as the Director of Public Relations for this organization, generously provided tickets for eight veterans and spouses to attend. The event was very festive with all the planes on display, the silent auction, people in uniform, bagpipers, the color guard, and everyone dressed up in their finery. Bill knew people who actually worked on some of the planes and engaged everyone with his insights on them.

The highlight of the evening was the keynote speaker, Marine Veteran Cpl. Daniel Riley, who was injuried by an IED nearly five years ago. The silence in the room and respect for him as he spoke was profound. Daniel was born in Victoria, Canada, and when he was 12 his dad took a job in Littleton. In Aug. 2010, when Daniel was 22, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and volunteered for a mission to Afghanistan. Every day, there were foot patrols and security operations. On Dec. 16, 2010, as Daniel stepped down and felt the ground give way beneath his foot, he knew what was going to happen next.

As we listened to him, there wasn’t an ounce of bitterness, or even a “why me” tone in his voice. Daniel was truly humble when he said “tonight isn’t about me, it’s about everyone who needs hope after they served their country”. Daniel stressed the importance of the many types of veterans’ programs. He noted that all programs that assist veterans – sports, mentor programs, assistance for families of veterans, or job training – are necessary. More often that not, veterans worry about their families being helped before they worry about themselves.

Veterans Passport 2 Hope gala

Jeff and Krysten Fogg at the Veterans Passport 2 Hope gala

The vets at the gala were relaxed, enjoying an evening in the company of their own. I’ve been told that it’s tiring to have to explain everything to civilians. The “unspoken” conversations between vets really stood out at this event. Amongst their fellow servicemen and servicewomen, vets can often convey thoughts to one another in the absence of spoken words.

Of course, we can’t begin to imagine the horrors of war, but for the vets, those horrors were a reality. As Daniel spoke, he didn’t even hint at his demons. I have a son who served in battle in 2009, and my family still only knows bits and pieces of his story. Linda confirms that some things just aren’t spoken about. I know vets share their war stories with each other, but not necessarily in the way you and I would talk about being in a traumatic car accident. They’ve been trained to push through the event, to complete the mission because their lives depend upon it. They don’t wallow in self pity, but they do relive their missions over and over again.

New light is being shed regarding how to help veterans live their lives after war time. One of the most powerful methods is vets being with vets. Another rapidly-growing organization called 22 with 22 for the 22 addresses the high level of suicide rates among veterans. These veterans walk 22 km carrying 22 kg in honor of the 22 veterans who take their lives every day.

The ACC Veteran Services Center continues to expands its reach, and we extend an open invitation to our student veterans – as well as veterans in the community – to visit me, Raquel Casavantes (President of the ACC Veterans Club) or Gina Wenzel-Garza (ACC’s VA Certifying Official). Got a few minutes of leisure time? Swing by the Veterans Lounge! Only with the vision and inspiration of those who possess a first-hand understanding of the complexities of veterans’ lives can we continue to comfort and assist those in need. Together, we can be a part of something special.

by Dawn Stratton, Director of the ACC Testing Center and ACC Veterans Club Faculty Advisor

Veterans View – Helping Our Vets Move Mountains toward Success

Dawn Stratton

Dawn Stratton, Director of the ACC Testing Center and ACC Veterans Club Faculty Advisor

It is pretty easy for me to spot a veteran.  It isn’t always the “yes, ma’am” they tend to include when talking with me (although that is a big clue). It is the memorial bracelet they are wearing, the way they walk a little taller, the patriotic tattoos, the way they look you right in the eye, their sense of humor, the way they shake your hand. It’s the gracefulness in their answer when I ask which branch they served.

Our student veterans are always willing to listen to your story, but their story is the one I really want to hear. ACC is lucky to have a more intimate environment and to have so many ways to engage our students. The number of veterans – of all ages – at ACC always surprises me. I believe you could ask anyone at ACC if they have a veteran in their lives and they would answer in the affirmative.

Every November when Student Life has activities surrounding Veterans Day, a display of pictures with brief bios of those who have served are posted in the Second Floor Student Lounge.

In 2008, I was able to post a picture of an ACC student – my son, Evan – who was serving his country as a Marine. He had such a baby face and looked way too young to serve his country. I knew that Evan stood in those famous yellow footprints at Camp Pendleton and really had no idea of what he was in for. I knew that his family worried about him during those months while they wrote encouraging or funny letters, and cried whenever they received a letter from him. I know they breathed a sigh of relief when graduation was finally upon him and he had survived the Crucible. Boot Camp and his basic training molded him into something new and he was trying to portray that in the picture.

In 2009, I posted that same picture. I thought about posting the one that showed him with his shaved head (the symbol of first-time deployment). I wish I had the courage to post the photo where Evan was receiving a purple heart in his hospital bed, or the sacred one showing his roommate’s flag-draped casket, or even the one of me rushing to embrace him once he was back on American soil. But instead I just changed his rank on the bio and posted the one in dress blues. No matter which photo I chose to post on the Veterans Day display, it wouldn’t have come close to telling the story of what Evan experienced during his deployment to Al Anbar Provence, Iraq.

In a March 2013 edition of Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Clarence V. Reynolds cited Student Veterans of America’s (SVA) estimate for the student veteran demographic to nearly double in the next five years.

“Around one million troops will be transitioning into civilian life,” said Michael Dakduk, who served in the Marine Corps from 2004-08, had tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and used his GI Bill benefits to complete his education at UNLV. “And as these men and women transition into civilian life, with the help of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the number of student veterans on college campuses will surely increase.”

The article goes on to talk about the unique challenges our veterans face and the benefits of having veterans on college campuses. What is ACC doing to meet these challenges and our student veterans’ needs?

ACC has been recognized as a veteran-friendly school and the resources being marshalled to assist these students is wonderful to witness.  It is a work in progress and certainly not easy. Everything from hiring those who can assist in the financial aid/GI Bill maze, to advising on how to translate military experience into comparable course work, career counseling, mental health care counseling, and the creation of activities and clubs that would be of interest and benefit to our veterans goes into the mix.

My first time visiting with our Veterans Club was a great experience. As a member of the women’s auxiliary at a local VFW, I wanted to know if they would be interested in partnering with ACC’s Sustainability Club in support of a clothing drive benefitting the Clothing Room at Veterans Hospital. They enthusiastically agreed and we have had clothing coming in non-stop. Lori Tigner, ACC Anthropology Faculty and Sustainability Club Faculty Advisor, also heartily agreed and now ACC enjoys a great partnership with the VFW. The VA hospital representative cries every time these boxes of clothing arrive. These are the moments when we see how veterans impact and contribute to the community spirit of ACC.

I also asked if any veterans would be interested in doing some trial testing of a new placement test. Not only were they interested, but they also knew of other non-veteran students who could benefit from testing. Those students were finally able to test into classes and begin college! The compassion and outreach to others is a hallmark of our student veterans.

Shortly thereafter, I was honored to be asked to be the Veterans Club Faculty Advisor. The enthusiasm that is expressed by the officers is inspiring. It could easily be a full-time job if we tried to do everything they want to do. This semester, there is a patriotic t-shirt contest, an open house, a BBQ to raise money for an emergency fund for veterans, and food bank collections to name just a few. Floor stands – decorated with the flags of all military branches – have also been purchased for display at appropriate events.

Here is a small glimpse of those who serve our veteran community. Stephanie Beecher, our Student Life Specialist, meets with the Veterans Club often to make sure events run smoothly. Tammy McGinnis in Purchasing has been ordering prizes for competitions. Gina Wenzel-Garza in Financial Aid makes miracles happen every day so veterans can take advantage of their benefits. Joseph Slonka, Paralegal Department Chair and veteran, helped organize a panel of student veterans who spoke at a well-attended employee professional development session. Eric Rogers in Admissions and Records came down to the ACC Veteran Services Center after that meeting and offered his services. Eric is instrumental in getting credit for prior learning approved. Vice President of Student Affairs Lisa Matye Edwards, who has a long line of Marines in her family, and Financial Aid Director Joel Laos recently approved the request for ACC to become a Chapter of Student Veterans of America. Billy Thais (Cashiers Office) and Evan Malone (Adjunct Biology Faculty) are both veterans and engage with student veterans whenever possible. Kim Larson-Cooney in Community Education wants to do a financial planning course for veterans. Victoria Sauber (CIS/UNIX Faculty) has advocated for the needs of veteran students, and Jennifer Husum (Assistant Director of Student Life) plans to facilitate a leadership course for the Veterans Club. There are also a number of student veteran work studies who spend time and energy on all of our students’ behalf well beyond their scheduled hours of work. Finally…thanks to our Marketing, Web and Communications team for this opportunity to blog about the ACC Veterans Club. It is greatly appreciated. You don’t have to look far to find someone who will provide resources or assistance at ACC.

This is the heart of ACC, those who stand with you in the moment of either great crisis or great success, those who see the story beyond the picture, and those who help by walking with you to the destination. Our veterans fought for our country, have a story and have a home at ACC. I hope you will stop and hear their stories and share yours with them. Please stop by the Veteran Services Center in M1630 to see all the other resources that are available.

Written by: Dawn Stratton, Director of the ACC Testing Center and ACC Veterans Club Faculty Advisor

Honoring Those Who Returned and Those Who Sacrificed All This Veterans Day

Military Grave at Fort Logan National Cemetery

photo by Josie Mills

As a person who has never experienced the loss of a loved one through service to their country, it is something that I watch from my bird’s eye view as a funeral director and witness the ocean of emotion and tears that comes from the grief of losing a son, daughter, husband, or wife. Many times I have pondered that although those families are burying one loved one, the service members are burying friend after friend after friend.

The only analogy that I can come up with is imagining arriving at the college and hearing that a student, staff member, or faculty died last night, and multiplying that scenario over and over again. My heart breaks for the soldiers who continue to serve our country day after day in spite of their grief. Grief that they can’t fully process because if they stop long to think about the loss it may be overwhelmingly paralyzing. It is with gratitude to those who serve that we acknowledge them on Veterans Day.

An online search for grief and support for military families includes a plethora of resources for widows, including www.militarywidows.org, and Young Widows or Widowers; and for parents, children, and siblings, at www.va.gov. This is just a sampling, there’s plenty more out there. But what I had the hardest time finding is who is taking care of the grief of the soldier who came home alive when some of his friends didn’t. The most comprehensive site I found is TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. They offer a myriad of service member support programs including: Peer Support, Grief Support, Trauma Support, Suicide Support, and Vet Center Counseling, just to name a few.

So when thanking a Veteran for their service this Veterans Day, remember to take a moment to remember all of those who have served, including those who died in service to our country and those they left behind.

by Martha Thayer, ACC Mortuary Science Department Chair

Veterans View – From Soldier to Student

Jeff Fogg, President of ACC's Veterans Club

Jeff Fogg, President of ACC’s Veterans Club

I am not what most would call a “traditional student”, in fact, I’m the older guy at the back of the classroom; an Army veteran who has found a home here at Arapahoe Community College.

My first week of school, I was nervous to say the least, but with the encouragement of my wife Krysten and the motivation of our child on the way, I needed to succeed. This was my opportunity to start my education and pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer. My nerves, as it turned out, were unfounded, because with the help of ACC’s student veterans and the College’s Veteran Services Center, I am doing it.

Ever since my discharge from the Army, I have been distant from my veteran status because – although I served honorably – I felt that the Army did more for me than I did for it. I can’t nail down one specific amenity ACC offers to its student veterans that has made the difference, but rather, a combination of services and values. From the veterans lounge on the first floor, to Dawn Stratton (Veterans Club Faculty Advisor and Testing Center Coordinator) and Ariel Mendez (Financial Aid Advisor and VA Certifying Officer) up on the second floor, ACC has to be one of the friendliest schools around.

It may be difficult to understand from an outsider’s perspective, but I’ve struggled with “personal space” issues. When someone is walking closely behind me, I become very anxious. This was, in fact, what was keeping me out of school.

When I started at ACC, I met a fellow soldier who experienced these same feelings of personal-space anxiety. Thanks to the compassion and understanding of other student veterans, as well as Ariel and Dawn, this anxiety began to slowly dissipate. It’s difficult to express how much this support has improved my morale. I was made to feel welcome and safe during my first year at ACC thanks to their support and patience, and my guarded mannerisms began to diminish. I hope I can provide other student veterans with the same comfort.

As President of the ACC Veterans Club, I work alongside some of the most dedicated veterans, with a focus on helping other vets achieve their goals at ACC and beyond.  Beyond ACC? With the extraordinary faculty and staff ACC has to offer, leaving behind such an amazing support system can be a daunting thought. From an emotional standpoint, members of our Veterans Club understand this dilemma, and we work together to connect with other vets on a peer-to-peer basis to encourage transferring to a four-year school, or even entrance into the civilian workforce.

When our current members recently began revitalizing ACC’s Veterans Club, we were encouraged by the College’s amazing faculty and staff. My hope is that our new regime, along with future members, will continue to reach out and assist student veterans with servitude in their hearts.

by Jeff Fogg, President of the ACC Veterans Club