Acquire Hands-on Coding Experience With Project Xtern

Project Xtern provides a way for new coders to demonstrate skills outside of the classroom

By Danielle Fenochietti

The AAPC’s Project Xtern program has met and passed its implementation date and is rounding the next curve. At the high point of our second year, we reiterate the important value of this national program to facilities and to our AAPC members.

After just one year, the Project Xtern program has 144 approved sites across the United States, a sizable accomplishment but not nearly enough to accommodate all of the AAPC members who need experience. We are actively pursuing more facilities in every community both rural and metropolitan. We are spreading the word about Project Xtern to our members and facilities through local chapters, PMCC sites, companies that currently hold corporate memberships through the AAPC, and more. And we will continue to do so.

The Project Xtern program offers many benefits to offer both facilities and members. It allows facilities the chance to evaluate, mentor and mold formally trained coders into experienced members of the workforce. Externships typically last three months but can be defined by the facility and extern based on both their needs. Facilities signing up as an approved official extern site (AOES) have complete control of the process. The facility’s staff determines how long they need an extern, how many hours a day, how many hours a week, etc., and the facility can choose which and how many externs they want. Facilities are required to assure externs be allowed at least 60 percent of their volunteered time working on coding tasks and the remaining time in supporting tasks. After an extern has gone through the program and completed the externship, facilities are required to complete a simple online evaluation of work performance. This enables us to monitor the progress of the program, how many externs have completed the program and which of our current sites are taking on more externs than others. Project Xtern allows facilities a chance to evaluate, mold, mentor and recruit coders who are certified or have completed a program of study. All across the nation PX facilities are enjoying an easier way to evaluate and hire medical coders or billers while giving new coders an opportunity for practical work experience.

The benefits for our new AAPC members are just as quantifiable. Many formally trained coders cannot get a job in the field because they lack experience. This program provides a way for new coders to demonstrate their skills outside of the classroom. Externship gives new coders the hands-on experience needed to find the perfect job, and the amount of time spent on externship counts toward the two years of experience required to remove the “A” status from the CPC™. The AAPC continues to explore and recruit as many facilities as possible.

If you are a member of the AAPC and are interested in participating as an extern through our program, simply register as a user in the member area of www.aapc.com. Once you have done this, you’ll have access to all of our current sites across the nation. Simply click on the Project Xtern logo and navigate to the locate Project Xtern Site tab. From there, search by state for the facilities in your area. Here you  find contact information for each site listed so you can contact them and inquire about an extern position at their facility.

If you are a facility and are interested in becoming an (AOES), please contact raemarie.jimenez@aapc.com.

Our website also offers many tools for both members and facilities. Tools such as overviews, FAQ’s, sample waivers, etc.

The AAPC considers Project Xtern to be one of its most beneficial and important programs for our members. Please help us build this program. Spread the word; give this article to your peers and co-workers. Your human resource directors, your executives, anyone that you believe would benefit from the program. In addition, remember, if you ever have any questions about the program; please feel free to call us!

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