Stephanie Sjogren and Stephanie Thebarge, Region 1 – Northeast NAB Representatives
Stephanie Sjogren and Stephanie Thebarge are the NAB’s representatives
for the Northeast Region. They both started with basic billing experience, and they each explain how that experience fueled their desire to achieve a higher standard. Stephanie Sjogren begins below:
When I first became a CPC, I knew there was so much more out there that I had to learn. My first job involved mostly billing, a huge positive. I knew the coding from school but the part about applying it in the full revenue cycle was eye opening. So many new questions came up and I researched to figure out the answers.
The best part of all these questions was that once you figured out the why, you knew how to fix and prevent coding and billing errors. Sharing that knowledge with your peers and sparking a lively, professional debate on how to interpret a certain guideline can open doors to even more information. If you take it upon yourself to further your education and specialize, you are doing the same thing. Achieving a higher standard is paramount in advancing your career as a coder. The more you know, the more valuable you are.
I was eager to jump on board on CPMA certification. I pre-purchased the whole package, diving into the reading materials and practice tests and passed my test on my first try. Auditing and E/M guidelines are subjective and fluid. I am still researching and learning changes to payer guidelines and even the prospective changes to CMS’ guidelines. So even though I obtained my certification, I did not stop and think ‘I’m done. I know all I need to know.
That’s the cool thing about medicine and coding, it’s always changing. I will always want to learn more and how everything intermingles with each other. The great part about our Northeast Region is we are home to some of the top hospitals, facilities, and doctors in the country. These providers are doing great things with advancing medicine and developing new procedures, techniques, and protocols to treat patients. Everything from new genetically driven cancer treatments to be the first to use innovative technology and implants for the treatment of aortic stenosis is found here.
Stephanie Thebarge feels the same way, and we bring this curiosity to our roles in the NAB. Here’s her story:
When I first became a member, I knew the basic billing principles having worked from Receptionist to Billing. I was looking for a new kind of direction, one where I could learn and grow in my career. I took the leap and the grueling 13-week course for my CPC. I was dedicated to learning and believe if you put in the time and effort you will get a return on investment. I spent hours studying the books, taking the practice exams, and learning the anatomy. Passing my CPC in 2009 was just the first step for me. My employer was looking to create an internal compliance program including E/M auditing. I audited many records, took E/M local workshops, and listened to any auditing-based webinars offered by AAPC. It all helped me pass my CEMC with flying colors. Moving forward, AAPC was offering the specialty certifications/exams at a discounted rate, therefore I took CHONC exam. My 8 years of Hematology & Oncology coding had prepared me well and I passed Magna Cum Laude.
From 2009 to today, AAPC has come a long way helping members achieve their goals. I’m contemplating which certification I want to obtain next to further my own education. I work as a Compliance Manager, but compliance is only one part of what I do. I manage Accounts Receivable staff so I must stay fresh with each payer’s guidelines, LCDs, NCDs, medical/clinical policies, and prior authorization requirements for drugs. I credential new providers and I’m working with AAPC to come up with more articles to assist.
One thing that both of us Stephanie’s agree on is: Don’t be afraid of the ‘unlisted code’ or unknown. Never stop learning, growing, and dressing for success. We encourage everyone to find the AAPC certifications that are right for you. The next time you hear the words “achieving a higher standard”, think about what you want to learn and go for it. use it as an opportunity to further your education and knowledge. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions or request help.
As your Northeast NAB representatives, we are here to get you the answers to the questions you want to know. So, NAB us! Stephanie Thebarge will be attending the AAPC Regional Conference in Washington, DC in August. When you see her please come and introduce yourself, as she would love to network with you and all our Northeast Region folks.
If there are topics you want to see covered don’t be afraid to reach out. Our contact information is right on the AAPC site. Go to My AAPC>>My Chapter>>Officers and Representatives>>NAB tab.
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