Medical Coding Manager Explains What Job Hunting Is Like Today
Job hunting has changed drastically from 20 years ago when newspaper classified ads and personal interactions were the best way to find open positions. You would go door to door to apply, make telephone calls, and snail mail and fax resumes and cover letters to the employers. Today, you scour through thousands of job listings on the internet and career sites, enter job-related keywords, create and online resume, and build a network of business colleagues to stand out from other applicants.
AAPC asked Wentworth Douglass Hospital’s Coding Manager Pam Brooks, MHA, COC, CPC, PCS, AAPC Fellow, what some major differences are between job hunting today versus 20 years ago for medical coding professionals on revenue side of healthcare. Here is what she had to say:
What are major differences you see between looking for job today versus 20 years ago?
Twenty years ago, would-be employees were still sending out resumes by snail mail. Except for very large organizations, most employers didn’t have online application processes. Networking didn’t play as big a part in identifying or applying for job vacancies ― there was no LinkedIn or job search engines like Indeed, and there were virtually no recruiters or headhunters out there looking for great talent.
Do you think it is more difficult or easier to get hired for a job than it was 20 years ago, and why?
It depends. Experienced medical coders, subject matter experts, and compliance or auditing professionals are currently receiving daily recruiter calls ― the market is flooded with these kinds of available positions. Entry level staff continue to struggle to find employment, however, particularly if they are looking only for a medical coding role. This is because the entire industry has become more regulated and complicated, and hospitals and physicians alike cannot afford to bring on coders that they have to take time to train, or don’t have the complete slate of skills necessary to navigate all the coding, billing, and compliance rules.
In 1999, most coders and revenue cycle professionals were hired based on having some financial or medical front desk experience and were trained on the job for coding and auditing purposes. There were more small private practices willing to take on inexperienced employees, and corporate medicine was overall a smaller part of the industry. Currently, small private practices are being scooped up by large healthcare entities, and these entities simply must employ experienced staff that can navigate both professional and technical coding rules.
What is the biggest obstacle today in landing a job, which wasn’t the case 20 years ago?
Getting the kind of experience necessary to be considered “outstanding talent.” I have been a manager since 1992. I would have given my left arm to have been able to hire someone at that time who had gone through a PMCC course, passed the CPC® exam, and had an understanding of revenue cycle. But those kinds of employees weren’t readily available, particularly for entry-level roles. And in those days, coders were more narrowly specialized ― working and coding within a single specialty practice.
We have headed in a new direction. Now coders need to have a broad range of skills. At the hospital where I work, the coders who code both the facility and professional accounts for same-day-surgery have to be skilled in coding gynecology, urology, orthopedics, ophthalmology, ENT, and general, thoracic, and plastic surgery, etc. These are skills that they’ve had to develop over the past several years to remain competitive in the market and meet the demands of our organization. It’s not a role for anyone other than a very experienced coder. The bar has been raised.
Need Help Job Hunting?
AAPC is a unique organization and a one-stop-shop for today’s healthcare revenue management education, networking, and mentoring needs. Stop by your local chapter to find seasoned medical coders who can help you connect with a mentor, prepare you for a medical coding exam, meet hiring healthcare professionals, and provide healthcare business education to maintain your credentials. You can also join our online employment resource and network with other AAPC members via social media on Facebook at or our online forums.
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