Revenue Cycle Coding Strategies (RCCS) Executive Director of Client & Corporate Resources Teri Bedard has been working in the healthcare industry for over twenty-five years. While today she jokes it’s because she “doesn’t know how to quit,” she never envisioned her career at RCCS would evolve as dramatically as it has over the past fifteen years. From the beginning of her education, she never planned to go into traditional medicine. Even though she eventually settled on a major in biology, opting for the environmental emphasis route rather than pre-med, her focus was really on her minor in athletic training.
While an undergraduate at the University of Northern Iowa, Teri could be found on the sidelines of many college sporting events including women’s volleyball, wrestling, football, softball, and basketball as a student athletic trainer. But if you were to ask what her favorite subject was, hands-down it was learning about and participating in controlled prairie burns in Northeast Iowa. This also included the opportunity to begin the route for testing to become a wildland firefighter. But Bedard was still on the fence about what truly interested her. When a college roommate recommended the allied health services at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, she felt the spark she had been looking for and decided to take a chance and moved to Rochester without knowing a soul.
There, Bedard attended school to become a certified radiologic technologist, learning about the use of X-rays and various other imaging modalities in healthcare. And while she believed that she would continue as a radiologic technologist for the rest of her career, one of her clinical rotations proved to be a catalyst in changing the trajectory of her professional life.
During her rotation in radiation oncology, Bedard saw a young boy who was there for radiation treatment and looked exactly like her late brother. “I got to see one radiation treatment for my brother, who passed from a pediatric brain tumor. They didn’t have the stuff that they have now,” Bedard reflects. Recalling that experience, she says that’s what truly ignited her interest in switching careers and pursuing radiation therapy to help others in similar situations.
Teri’s independent spirit has led her all over the country — literally. From Rochester, she would go on to move to Minneapolis for school and eventually a position as a radiation therapist, only vaguely knowing one other person. She would later move to Chicago without any friends or family around. Then, when she realized just how much she wanted to buy her own home (and how much she valued her sleep), she settled on the next location of Des Moines. There, she worked at the John Stoddard Cancer Center, which would lead her to her eventual long-term career at RCCS.
“I’ve kind of done a little bit of everything,” Bedard said. “Right now, there are a couple of different tracks that I’m focusing on. One is regulatory. That’s what is happening from a Medicare standpoint, regulatory payment information, the new rules, the coding guidelines… I also work with the vendors who create the technology that we use for the different specialties, as well as oversee, write, and/or manage the library of RCCS Navigator® coding guide content and edits.”
Despite the challenges that come with trying to keep up with the ever-changing healthcare industry, Teri loves the fact that it pulls her out of a mundane routine. She may go into her workday with an idea of what to expect, but she won’t really know until she logs in. Sometimes, the flood of requests and questions in her inbox is completely different from what she had planned. But, as she says, “I like the variety of things that I do.”
Aside from the challenges that eliminate the possibility of her having a boring day-to-day, one thing that Teri especially values about being at RCCS is the people. She may not be where the undergraduate version of herself thought she would be, but the healthcare professionals she now surrounds herself with have helped her realize over the past fifteen years that this is the place for her. Although the position is remote, the RCCS team finds ways to interact with one another in ways that work for them.
“When COVID hit, it was funny because I had been working from home for years. Everyone was quarantining and I was like, ‘Dang, I guess I live a quarantined life!’” she exclaimed. “But we make sure that we carve out time to connect and talk because we don’t have that in-person connection as much as we would if we were in an office.”
All of that said, Teri hasn’t let the remote work life slow her down. She gives expert presentations across the United States, for RCCS and particularly with the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC). She has also managed to travel to all fifty states, either through work or personal travel. At one point she decided to drive three hours for lunch one day simply to mark Idaho off her list. One of her big interests is glass artist Dale Chihuly and his botanical garden installations. Another is seeing any of her favorite bands live (e.g., Trampled by Turtles, Pearl Jam, Brandi Carlisle, Jason Isbell, etc.). Sometimes, she even coordinates the two into exciting vacations.
Teri is a determined traveler and there are very few roadblocks that can keep her from her destination. “I did one trip where I flew in when a hurricane was coming, still made it to see the glass installation and an outdoor concert, and flew out just in time,” Bedard said. “A couple of years ago, I drove to Sante Fe from Des Moines for a concert and made a solo trip out of it.”
When Bedard isn’t hitting the road to go on her next adventure, she is proving herself to be a trustworthy member of the team at RCCS, including overseeing its Client Resource Center. She is also on the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD) Board of Trustees, Society for Radiation Oncology Administrators (SROA) Editorial Panel, participates with the American College of Radiation Oncology (ACRO) ACROinsights team, and works as the American Medical Association (AMA) Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) staff consultant for the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR). From her detail-oriented work ethic, passion for partnering with societies, and ability to see the bigger picture, Bedard brings all levels of value to the table in her industry.