Chapter Building Blocks: Mentoring and Networking

Get more out of AAPC local chapter meetings than CEUs.

By Angela Clements, CPC, CEMC, COSC
I am an advocate for AAPC local chapters and here’s why:
I attended my first local chapter meeting while in college. My coding class was at night, and once a month it occurred on the same day that the New Orleans local chapter held their meetings. My teacher (advisor) attended these meetings and encouraged me and my fellow classmates to become AAPC members and attend chapter meetings, as well. I did, and that’s where I learned the importance of mentoring and networking.
The Meaning of Mentorship
To realize the benefits of mentorship, you must first look at its core meaning:
Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. True mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions.1
Note the word “relationship” in this definition. A true mentorship requires a connection between two people. That’s where the importance of attending local chapter meetings comes into play. Members who attend chapter meetings on a regular basis develop true relationships.
Realize the Importance of Mentoring
When you are fresh out of school with no coding experience, you are excited about earning your Certified Professional Coding (CPC®) or Certified Professional Coding–Apprentice (CPC-A®) credential and you cannot wait to start working. That excitement quickly fades, however, if no one will hire you due to lack of experience. Many new coders attend meetings every month hoping to speak with someone who can offer them encouragement and advice.
Mentoring Relies on Experienced Coders
If you are a seasoned coder, you are instrumental in the development of new coders in this profession and your attendance is essential at chapter meetings. It’s not about what you can get out of meetings; it’s about what you can offer your chapter and its members. At the very least, you can offer the wisdom of your successes and your failures.
Sometimes my favorite part of the day is when I bounce information off fellow coders while deciphering a difficult case or determining how to code a new procedure. It’s a great feeling to know I am not alone, spinning my wheels.
My mentor was my college advisor. She guided me through the education process and, 15 years later, she still encourages me, congratulates me, guides me, listens to me, and offers assistance. She is someone in the coding profession who I know I can always count on when I need advice. I am indebted to her for my professional success. Although there are many others who have fostered my growth, she was my initial contact and remains a constant mentor.
The Meaning of Networking
Now let’s look at the definition of “networking”:
Networking is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.2
There’s that word again: “relationship.” Establishing relationships isn’t easy even in the best of circumstances, but it’s nearly impossible if you’re a remote coder. Without face-to-face interaction with co-workers on a daily basis, it’s vital that you have a network of peers who you can contact for guidance or advice. Once again, local chapter meetings are the best place to establish contacts and to build a solid network.
Realize the Importance of Networking
Networking involves making connections with those who can help you with a difficult case or with whom you can share your successes. Networking not only benefits the individuals involved, but also the organization to which they belong.
According to Adam Small, founder of the Strategic Business Network, “NETWORKING is the single most powerful marketing tactic to accelerate and sustain success for any individual or organization!”
Step Up to the Challenge
Most chapters meet for a couple of hours, once a month. That’s a small investment to foster growth in others, as well as yourself. I’d call that a profitable return! Think of the people you will meet, the friendships you will form, and the information you will obtain to assist with your personal and professional growth—that which you can use to nurture growth in others.
Seasoned coders: Become a resource for up-and-coming coders. Make others fall in love with coding and become as passionate as you are about it. Attend your next local chapter meeting, and make a world of difference in someone’s life.
Angela Clements, CPC, CEMC, COSC, is an internal consultant in the Coding and Education Department at Ochsner Health Systems in New Orleans, with 15 years of healthcare experience in multi-specialty. She is a member of the AAPC National Advisory Board for Region 5 and member development officer of the Covington, La., 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 20 years experience in journalistic reporting, print production, graphic design, and content management. Follow her on Twitter @dustman_aapc.

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