Don’t Limit Yourself to Medical Coding Careers

Don’t Limit Yourself to Medical Coding Careers

We know: You can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. So, stop and think about it: is what you are doing now where you expected your career path to take you? I never dreamt that I could have such a fun and interesting career in healthcare, especially since I majored in music performance in college. My first medical coding-related job in a physician’s office was a lucky move for me. I was young, willing to learn anything, and making more than minimum wage.

I got experience from working the reception desk, scheduling, insurance, collecting on bad debt, pulling and filing medical records, and yes, coding. If you have been in the field for many years, your journey may have started in an area other than coding. I truly believe that having a well rounded background is important, it teaches how all of the different areas of the office work together. Every role in the billing office plays a part in getting every claim paid. It turns out getting into a hospital or physician’s office entry-level, might just be the smartest thing you could do. It was the smartest thing I did.

Now let’s think about occupations outside of the physician’s office. There are so many employers that have a need for your knowledge base as a medical coder.

Here are a few places to consider when beginning your search:
• Insurance companies
• Workman’s compensation companies
• Professional liability companies
• Hospitals
• Nursing facilities
• State government agencies
• Federal government agencies
• Career colleges
• Information technology services
• Medical billing service
• Law firms
• Medical laboratories
• Dental offices
• Rehabilitation services
• Collection agencies
• Clearinghouses

Broaden your search parameters when landing that coding position. It may be a foot in the door that is in a different role than you anticipated or it may be with a different type of company than you expected. Experience in any setting will be beneficial, so continue to expand your knowledge base. Any starting point can be a catalyst for moving into other areas of healthcare such as practice management, nursing, credentialing, compliance, administration, or even non-physician practitioner or a practitioner.

You need to stop fighting the path and start following it. You can’t sit around wondering why the path to employment is hard. Take action. Get that credential, start entry-level, volunteer to get experience, join a local chapter, and network your way up—until the system, in turn, works for you. The bottom line is simple, getting a job in coding depends on how badly you want to be a coder.

Brenda Edwards

Brenda Edwards

Senior Managing Consultant of Risk Adjustment at Medical Revenue Solutions
Brenda Edwards, CPC, CDEO, CPB, CPMA, CPC-I, CEMC, CRC, CMRS, CMCS, is executive consultant of risk adjustment at SCBI. She has for over 30 years with experience in chart audit, coding and billing, education, consulting, practice management, and compliance. Edwards shares her expertise writing for Healthcare Business Monthly, as well as other national publications, such as American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and BC Advantage. Edwards helps students obtain their coding credentials through the AAPC Professional Medical Coding Curriculum, and she is an AAPC ICD10-CM/PCS Training Expert. Edwards served on the AAPC Chapter Association Board of Directors from 2010-2014 and held office as chair. She has been involved in the Hardship Fund for AAPC since its inception. Edwards is a mentor and co-founder of the Northeast Kansas (NEKAAPC) AAPC chapter and has served many officer roles.
Brenda Edwards

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Brenda Edwards, CPC, CDEO, CPB, CPMA, CPC-I, CEMC, CRC, CMRS, CMCS, is executive consultant of risk adjustment at SCBI. She has for over 30 years with experience in chart audit, coding and billing, education, consulting, practice management, and compliance. Edwards shares her expertise writing for Healthcare Business Monthly, as well as other national publications, such as American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and BC Advantage. Edwards helps students obtain their coding credentials through the AAPC Professional Medical Coding Curriculum, and she is an AAPC ICD10-CM/PCS Training Expert. Edwards served on the AAPC Chapter Association Board of Directors from 2010-2014 and held office as chair. She has been involved in the Hardship Fund for AAPC since its inception. Edwards is a mentor and co-founder of the Northeast Kansas (NEKAAPC) AAPC chapter and has served many officer roles.

3 Responses to “Don’t Limit Yourself to Medical Coding Careers”

  1. Renee Billinger says:

    Great words of wisdom Brenda! So many of us, myself included, tend to focus on one aspect of the coding world and block out an opportunity that could be knocking at our door. Great advise for our new aspiring coders too!

  2. Jen says:

    I understand there is a path one must take in order to gain employment as a medical coder and dues must be paid. However, how does one with chronic health issues deal with gaining experience if one’s ultimate goal is to work remotely? The thought of having to work the reception desk in a chaotic office or calling patients to collect on unpaid bills fills me with dread and anxiety. I have a BA in Liberal Arts and an MA in Training & Development. I have spent the last 15 years working in higher education in a clerical capacity and I currently volunteer at my local hospital in the Quality Management Department. I was hoping medical coding would open some new and different career paths for me where I can work more autonomously. I have already spent one year on the path to becoming certified as a medical coder. I hope to take the CPC exam by the end of 2016. I realize I will have a CPC-A designation at first, given I pass the exam. I like what I have learned so far and I really think I can do this, but is front desk reception, heavy telephone work, etc. the only way to gain a position as a medical coder?

  3. Samantha Butler, CPC, CRC says:

    I started out as a entry level claims processor and saw how much coding could offer so I took the PMCC course and got my CPC. Then I became a medical records clerk and even though they were hesitant because I was a CPC, I had never worked in a medical office before. I went from medical records to transcription to referrals to reception and got named employee of the year for becoming so versatile and trying to learn all the office needs then rising to the occasion to help. 4 years after becoming a CPC I got my first coding job and have been coding since. That experience before coding has helped me so much to understand the industry. Thankful for all the different sides of medicine I’ve been able to learn about.

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