Make a Resolution to Volunteer

By Faith C.M. McNicholas, RHIT, CPC, CPCD, PCS, CDC

Look for ways you can give back to your local chapter and fellow AAPC members in 2014.

The start of a new year is the perfect time to hit the reset button and resolve to be a better person. People resolve to be kinder, quit smoking, eat right, lose weight, etc.
My challenge for you in 2014 is to make an effort to volunteer more at your local chapter. This is an easy resolution to make, but may be difficult to keep. Sustaining a volunteer commitment throughout the year takes a lot of time, dedication, and love for your profession. The satisfaction comes from knowing that your effort is important and very much appreciated.
Think Local First
You can make an impact through volunteering locally, and one of the best places to discover volunteer opportunities is your local chapter. Speak to your chapter leadership and find out what help they need to run and manage a successful chapter and/or chapter meetings. Keep an open mind and be ready to take on any task. You can achieve a lot when you focus on building relationships with your fellow local chapter members through volunteering.
The most important thing you can do to get yourself ready and to be accessible for volunteering is to attend your January AAPC local chapter meeting. Use this meeting as a time to explore your chapter needs and to contribute fun and exciting new ideas.
Here are some ways you can make the most of your time, maximize your impact, and bring joy when volunteering:
Plan a Local Chapter Event
Step up and volunteer to host a chapter seminar, create a theme, and offer education to members. Consider inviting other chapters in the area. Tap into your resources to get top-notch speakers or speak about your specialty. If you’d like to volunteer to help host a workshop, see the AAPCCA article, “Workshop Planning Calls for a Team Approach,” on page 14.
Cultivate Skill-based Volunteer Speakers
Volunteer to find an expert volunteer. You can help to find skill-based specialty coders, practice managers, etc., who can volunteer their skills to educate and share tips with chapter members on how they perform their daily routines successfully. Everybody appreciates a new pearl of wisdom on how to perform an assignment quickly and efficiently.
Mentor a Fellow Coder 
AAPC’s local chapters aim to meet the needs of their members. The monthly meetings are the place to go for great education, no- or low-cost continuing education units (CEUs), and networking with professional coders who are passionate about what they do. Less-experienced coders find mentors while seasoned coders share their knowledge about trends, upcoming changes in the field, and job openings.
You do not have to be an experienced mentor to make a difference, and it doesn’t take a lot of time to be effective. Mentor a colleague to help him of her reach career aspirations. It’s very rewarding. You can also participate as a mentee in the program. Please check the AAPC website for Chapter Mentoring Program guidelines.
Go Beyond Your Local Chapter
Using your local chapter to raise funds for a charity is great way to make a difference locally or globally. For example, Project AAPC helps victims of catastrophic disasters. Local chapters collect monetary donations to help members across the country who have been affected by a natural crisis (
). Members can also donate to the AAPCCA Hardship Scholarship Program (, which assists members with membership and certification costs in times of financial difficulty due to an unexpected hardship.
There are many other charities and organizations for which you can start fundraisers through your local chapter. Look around for those in need and volunteer to help.
Faith C.M. McNicholas, RHIT, CPC, CPCD, PCS, CDC, has experience in various solo and group practice medical specialties. She is the assistant editor for American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) Derm Coding Consult, and a contributor for Association of Dermatology Managers/Administrators (ADA/M) Newsletter and Journal of Dermatology Nurses Association (JDNA). McNicholas presents at AAD annual and summer meetings, AAPC regional conferences, ADA/M and JDNA annual meetings, and AAD monthly webinars and regional symposia. She is an ICD-10-CM/PCS expert and approved trainer and has held offices as president and secretary of the Des Plaines, Ill., local chapter.

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Renee Dustman, BS, AAPC MACRA Proficient, is managing editor - content & editorial at AAPC. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Media Communications - Journalism. Renee has more than 30 years' experience in journalistic reporting, print production, graphic design, and content management. Follow her on Twitter @dustman_aapc.

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