Advance Student Center: “Project Xtern Gains Momentum”

Project Xtern has grown into a huge resource linking aspiring coders to potential employers and allowing new coders to gain hands-on experience outside the classroom. This article looks at the growth of the program and its offerings for aspiring coders.

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5 Responses to “Advance Student Center: “Project Xtern Gains Momentum””

  1. Michael Benoit says:

    Hi, I became certified as a CPC-A on May 17th, 2008 after completing the Career Step Online course which many people in the coding field regard as a great course. Also, I finished a course in Advanced Hospital Coding with preparation for the CCS exam recently. I have managed an A average in all of these courses. Anyway, in May I applied and sent my resume to all of the 5 Project Xtern companies in Massachusetts where I am from. I have never heard back from any of these companies even to say I would be on a waiting list. Two of the companies did call me back to say they no longer are involved with the program because too many people need to keep their full-time jobs while doing the Xternship(which is not a paid position), and they can only do limited hours, which wouldn’t be condusive to their work environment. These companies I noticed are still listed under the Project Xtern(Massachusetts page), on the AAPC website. I hate to be negative, but to say the Project is gaining momentum makes no sense to me. I have worked so hard over the last two years to learn medical coding and break into the field as an entry level coder with no success whatsoever. I believe that authorities like the AAPC or AHIMA need to find a better way of convincing hospitals and other outpatient facilities that there is a need to offer a position where people have a chance to become employed and gain experience. Even if that meant woking for a very small wage for the first year or two until you prove yourself. I am convinced that their are hundreds of aspiring coders like myself which would be willing to work for less pay just to get a chance. I have applied to at least 100 companies and been on about 10 interviews, and the undeniable fact that each employer expresses to me is that I have good credentials, but without experience, we cannot consider you for any position. I have never heard of this in my life. There is no entry level positions in this field whatsoever?? I would greatly appreciate it if there was someone at the AAPC that could read this and send me an email with some feedback and maybe some suggestions. Greatly appreciated, Michael Benoit, AAPC member since March 2008. P.S. Things have been so discouraging that I find it difficult to make a decision on whether I want to pay out another $120 to renew my AAPC membership in March, and other things such as new 2009 books(another $300), and pay the $300 exam fee to take the CCS since I would like to work in a hospital. As you know, economic times are tough for everyone lately, and I think there maybe many coders like myself that are going to have these same hard decisions to make, because their are no job prospects to give them hope all of this money and effort will pay off.

  2. Sylvia Plate says:

    I agree with MIchael, I live in Colorado and there are only two sites listed for an xtern project. I sent my resume into both companies, one never called back the othe rcompany said they had twenty applicants and only 5 positions available. I was called and I did have an interview, however they only took three canidates, because the experienced coders did not want to take on a new code. I currently work in the medical field in a dead end job. I obtained my certification June 2008. I have also sent out over 100 resumes along with applications. I was also told I have great medical experience but not in the coding field, so they could not offer me a position because “I was a new coder with no experience”. How does one get experience if no one is willing to give them a chance. After several calls to several billing companies in my area I did find a company willing to take on an extern. I completed 120 externship along with working full time at my present job. I took there computer tests and passed, coded procedures for two hospitals. They then informed me to take there coding pre-admission exam which I did and I also passed, had my interview and was passed over for a more experienced coder. I am still not sure why I went through all this for this company and they hired someome with experience, but had no idea how the billing company worked, but I did I had just completed my externship. My question is where does a new coder go from here when no one will give you a chance to learn. After all these experienced coders had to learn somewhere, why not give us beginners the same consideration that they were given when they were first starting out in this field. I also agree with Michael, renewal of CPC for me is also due in March and now my loans are due. I am paying on a loan and no job in this field. I am not sure I made the right choice for a career change.

  3. Lisa Petrie says:

    I believe what Michael and Sylvia are saying. I have been a CPC-a since April, and have a degree in Medical Billing and Coding. I find a job in the want ads, get an interview, then am told an experienced coder got the job. My renewal is also in March. I am only hoping a job will come up that I am given a change to prove myself.

  4. Christine Skeens says:

    I also have my CPC-A and have had it since June. I can not even get an interview. All posted positions require experience but I apply anyway in case my previous work ethics and experience will help. Obviously it doesn’t. I have tried the x-terns and have gotten nowhere. My renewal is in March and with the temp jobs I have been working, I am going to find it hard to renew. I loved the class and looked forward to the homework. I thought going to meetings would help but found most during the day while I was at work and can’t afford to take time off. There a lot of changes in the new year and keeping up when not doing it on a daily basis is extremely hard. Where can I get even a little experience? I’d settle for minimum wage just to get experience.

  5. Jennifer Gepfrey CPC-A says:

    I am also faced with not having job experience. I have contacted all of the Ohio extern sites no luck. I have had interviews but job experience is a big weighting factor. I would just like to be consider on a entry level to learn and get experience. But with the cost of school, books and membership to the AAPC. Things just do not seem to be financial fit. With 75,000 members how many are turned away for employment because a lack of experience. I took my exam in October of 2008.

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