New program helps women pursue prosperous medical coding careers

Northwest Technical College will provide opportunities for women who wish to pursue a career in medical coding with the support of a $100,000 grant from the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

Women who meet certain eligibility requirements can enter NTC’s news Coding the Path from Poverty to Hope program, which will be delivered online and in traditional classrooms at Northwest Tech, Leech Lake Tribal College and Red Lake Tribal College. Women selected to participate in the program must be either: living below the poverty level; a caretaker of a child or elder; or a woman of color.

NTC expects the program to serve 10 students. In addition to receiving tuition waivers supported by the grant, those students will have access to reimbursement for travel and daycare, cultural mentoring and forgiveness of up to $3,000 in debt from previous education at a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system school.

“We all know our students run into so many barriers, whether that’s the cost of tuition or books, an old debt we can erase for them, or coverage for transportation or daycare,” said Sue Sutton, a nursing instructor at NTC and the college’s lead instructor for the program. “Our intent is to make this as easy for our students as possible.”

“The mentoring part of this program is, I think, the coolest part,” said Sue Sutton, a nursing instructor at NTC who will lead the program. “In addition to having a teacher for classes, students get to make a connection with someone from the coding program at either the Cass Lake or Red Lake hospitals. These mentors will work closely with our students and come into their lives to help guide them through this program.”

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s Pathways 2 Prosperity grants support community and technical colleges that create innovative programs for women to pursue employment in high-demand, high-skill and high-paying fields through training and certificate programs. Funded programs increase access to financial aid and other financial support, and expand and improve student support services for women.

The medical coding profession
Medical coding involves using nationally recognized systems to classify procedures and diagnoses related to medical treatment for use in insurance claims processing.

NTC’s medical coding program prepares students to complete many of the procedures associated with billing for medical services. Students will not only focus on coding for medical procedures, but also will receive training in billing processes including patient account management, diagnosis and procedures and develop workforce and interpersonal skills.

Students who complete the program are eligible to take a variety of professional certification exams, such as the Certified Coding Specialist or Certified Professional Coder – Hospital exams. Students also can use the certificate as a springboard to further education. Credits can be applied to an associate’s degree in programs such as NTC’s medical administrative secretary program.

Sutton said that projected growth in the need for medical coders in the workforce and the flexibility and opportunities provided by the profession make the college’s program an attractive option for students seeking to pursue a new career.

“Coders are well-respected in the medical field because you’re bringing in revenue,” she said. “It’s flexible – you can work full-time or part-time, and a lot of coders in this region work from home. It’s a respectable income, and you get to work with so many aspects of the healthcare field — from doctors to nurses to billing, you have your hands in a lot of different areas. Coders can also work in places like dental or chiropractic offices; there are a lot of different opportunities beyond just working in hospitals or clinics.”


• Sue Sutton, NTC faculty; (218) 333-6626,
• Mary Beth Hanson, director of communications, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota; (612) 236-1811,


• Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
• Women’s Foundation of Minnesota awards $227,500 in Pathways 2 Prosperity grants