CPC-Apprentice - obtaining their certification

brina

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Sorry, if this has been asked before, but, not much time to read the boards.
Has anyone here gone this route in obtaining their certification? I have only taken a 80hr coding class, and received my letter of recommendation from my instructor. I do not have any on the job experience with coding. Just wondering if any of you have gone about the CPC certification the same way?
Your thoughts on it would be greatly appreciated.:)
 

sleepycats

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80hr coding class

I went this way too, although I did not receive a letter of recomendation from the instructor. The instructor has not been very helpful. I have no healthcare experience, so I had looked into project extern, but nothing was offered in my area. So, I sent my resume and cover letter out to everyone within a reasonable driving distance, expressing my interest in an internship and did manage to get one that allowed me 34 hours hands on experience. I'm still trying to get that A off! I hope this was helpful.
 

lheitmeier

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RE: Getting the A off

I only have a Certification in Coding/Billing and trying to enter a whole new field of work myself. I too get one yr. credit for the classes I have taken and my instructor is also writing a letter for me. I sit for the CPC exam in May, 2008 and hopefully I will pass on the first try. I am inbetween jobs and trying to get my resume redone and sent out for some local jobs at least to get my foot in the door somewhere. I am sweating it though since I had planned to be back to work in March but didn't work out.
I do not have any helpful hints or anything but it is nice on my part to know that I am not the only one out here who feels this way and dealing with the same stuff. Good luck to you in your search and future in medical billing and coding.
Lyn
 

szrogers

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I took 2 coding classes and then took the exam about 6 months after and passed. I think it is helpful to take the exam soon after the classes, so it is fresh in your head. I also took a refresher course offered by the AAPC, which was SUPER helpful. I still have the A on my certification but I guess you need to have 2 years coding experience, or 1 year coding experience and a letter from your coding instructor saying how many hours were spent in the class to get the A removed.
Hope this helps.
 

kadensmom

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I had no job experience as well when I earned my credentials. It sounds as if I am lucky when reading the other replies to this thread. Once I received notice that I had passed the exam, it took me about 4 weeks to get a job. A lot of the medical industry in the Tulsa area is staffed through staffing agencies. I went to a medical staffing agency, told them I was a certified apprentice coder with no medical experience and that I would prefer a coding position...but that if there was anything else comparable to get my foot in the door I would take it. I was hired as a charge poster for an orthopedic practice. Within three months I was leading that department, and in another 2 months I had a coding position. The pay was a little less than I had hoped for, but once I became permanent with the orthopedic clinic I was given a considerable raise.

I am 1 1/2 years into this career and still loving every day! I am now working for a billing company who presented me an offer I could not refuse. I am being paid above average salary for my experience with work from home a couple of days a week. :D

I basically did self-study with a little guidance from a friend, so I am still waiting for the A to fall off as well. I would recommend visiting a medical staffing agency in your area and scanning the classifieds every day. Even though you have no medical experience - put your previous work on your resume. I am confident that my previous experience and job duties helped me prove myself to be worth hiring, even without medical experience. Good luck to you!

Kara Hawes, CPC-A
 

emetayer

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CPC-Apprentice

First off thanks brina :) for asking this question. I've been wondering this myself, but I have been too embarrassed to ask the question.

So I'm glad that it was pointed out that even though students have no professional experience, we (students) can still sit for the exam and get a CPC-A and then have 2 years to get the experience under their belt. AAPC website should make this point about the apprentice very clear...I almost waited to get the experience then take the classes and exam...backwards I know ....that's why it didn't work heheheee :D .

I too have trouble finding an externship site in my area. The primary reason --- how can you do an externship and still work full time?! Trying to find a clinic, facility, or physicians office (if you're lucky) that has weekend or evening hours and is willing to take me in, is a full time job in itself.
------------------------------------------------
HEY SZROGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Did you take the regular ISP as a refresher CPC course? I don't see any coding refresher course listed on the AAPC website.

Thanks
Eileen
emetayer@eyelasersite.com
 

szrogers

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Eileen,
I didn't do the ISP, I took a CPC refresher course. It was like 8 or 9 hours long; for the majority of the time you take mini tests from each section of the CPC examination. They go over the answers and give you a range of how well you do to see if you are ready for the exam. I found it to be extraordinarily helpful and SO glad I took the course. Like most of you, I was just in school. I got really good grades in coding and thought I would just sit for the exam and see what happens. The test was hard for sure, I cried when I left, but I found out in like two weeks that I had passed. I had my certification and a job before I got out of school. I graduated on a Thursday and started my job on Monday. I think just having the certification is definitely a bonus, so even if you don't have experience, you can say that you have enough knowledge that you can learn the job too. That is pretty much how I presented myself during my interview.
As it turns out, that job didn't work out (outsourced to India), I interviewed at a hospital with only 5 months experience then, and got that job- still with limited experience and now in a maternal-fetal medicine specialty.
You can find the refresher course under the corporate page, examinations and then I think it says refresher. I say jump in with both feet and take the exam!! It can't hurt you for sure.
Stacey Rogers, CPC-A
 

mmorningstarcpc

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I have found recently that a lot of "coding schools" make promises they aren't keeping, regarding salary, job availability, etc.

Life in the real world is very different. ( I too learned this the hard way just out of college).

I have been in billing/insurance/coding and management for all for 20+ years, I consider I "grew up" in this field, as do a lot of people in this category.

Might I suggest, pick up the phone and start calling every phyisican's office, billing service, etc in your area. I actually have found several jobs this way. Explain to them your situation. If that doesn't work, volunteer (if no internship is available) and get some experience that way. I know a lady who did this with great results. Take a position that will get you in the door and some experience, maybe not coding, but close enough to maybe be considered for advanced positions. I know another lady who passed the CPC exam, got a position in an office as a biller, after a year and a half she was the coder, making great money.

Doesn't work for everyone, I understand some need income (I have been a single mom for ever, LOL!) and have other obligations. BE INVENTIVE!!!

Machelle
 

lisaulrich

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lisa ulrich, student

I am so happy I found this forum. I am currently taking an anatomy course and a medical terminology course through AAPC. I was looking ahead to taking the medical coding course this summer and was also confused, thinking that I needed years of experience before taking the certification exam. I am so afraid I'll forget everything, especially if I can't get enough hands on coding work right away with no experience and no certification. So, I understand that I can take the exam without prior experience and hopefully get a letter from my instructor and an internship or even paid work and work as an apprentice?
Thanks for all of your questions and advice, which has been a big help in trying to sort all this out! :)
 

brianarae

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refresher?

When you all mention refresher course for taking the exam what are you refering to? There are 3 practice exams on the AAPC site...or are you talking about something more in depth?
 
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still waiting for mine to fall off too!

I know that finding a location to get the experience is pain-staking and at time extremely difficult. I too have been looking for two years. I have had two interviews in just two years. Finally, I think that I have found a place to start. I have done alot of searching and made alot of trips and phone calls. I just hope that next Tuesday will be the end of my search. I have an interview with a Physician. I have already spoken to the office manager and she is referring me to the Physician for a "final interview" of sorts.

You just have to have the sticktooativeness and a never give up attitude. If I can stick it out this long, I know that anyone can.
 

pam562001

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Another Apprentice

I took my CPC exam a year ago and passed it. I am still looking for a coding position. I did a 74 hr. externship while in school. I have had interviews and also a lot of rejection letters without having an interview. They all state that I am passed over for the job because of a lack of experience!! Seems you can't get one without the other. This is getting very frustrating. I just renewed my fees for another year. If nothing in another years time--that will be it for me.
 

tymrak

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cpc friends

i have gone to school for coding for 3 years and taken my cpc exam and passed it, now i find out that i need 2 years of medical back ground, and no one is willing to train me more in the medical field. I would like to be a coder but it is hard to find a job or person willing to train me farther in the coding field.:confused:
 

lauralmalone

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I'm going to be taking the CPC exam in May after an 18 month program. I hope this certification will help me get into the field of coding but have heard that you may have to start as a receptionist just to get your foot in the door. Of course I am speaking about statistics in my area. I'm interested to know whether or not you have gotten a job in coding.

Laura Malone
Bossier City, LA
 
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I am very surprised that no one mentions networking through your local AAPC chapters!!! I am a current local chapter president and we support the Project-Extern by having a number of employers in our metro area sign up as a participating employer of Project-Extern, and hire or at least mentor those with the Apprentice certifications. Many of these employers say it's a great way "to try out" a potential employee while helping the student fulfill their apprenticeship.
Several of our officers and members work in a local university medical school, and have helped pave the way for apprentice programs. The university employs over 40 coders in many capacities, whether it is in billing, coding in one of the clinics, for general surgeons, or in auditing teaching faculty.
Perhaps we are fortunate to have many hospitals, and their satellite clinics in our metro area as well.

I encourage each of you to seek out your local chapters, and network there. Get involved, and meet these fellow coders. Many of them may potentially be your next boss!!
I encourage you to volunteer to run for an office and help structure learning programs for new members (even apprentices can run for office).
Besides, it's a fun way to obtain CEU's while networking.
Contact me or the Local Chapter Department of AAPC for more information!!
Best of luck to each of you, and keep encouraging each other!

Peggy McCarty, CPC
Pro Tulsa Chapter of AAPC
I couldn't agree more. I was actually just getting ready to post about using the local chapters when I read your post. I thinks it's a good rout to go.

Also, for the CPC-A's: I went the 80 hour class rout with as letter of recommendation and no experience. Finding that first job can be difficult but stick in there. It is worth it in the end. I have been coding from home now for years and love it.
 
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I also encourage the CPC-As to read this thread: "How many gained employment with NO experience?" I think it's encouraging that it can be done as well as offers some good ideas on how it can be done. Good luck to you all.
 

szrogers

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I am no longer a CPC-A, but I got a job before I graduated school. I interned at a location and was hired right away. As it turned out, it was an awful place so I started looking elsewhere. Every place wanted 5 years experience, which I didn't have, but I did have confidence so I applied anyway. I got the first job I applied for, one that wanted 5 years and inpatient experience; I had neither. You just have to go out and apply, be confident and work hard

Stacey Rogers, CPC
 

AdamShoop

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I am no longer a CPC-A, but I got a job before I graduated school. I interned at a location and was hired right away. As it turned out, it was an awful place so I started looking elsewhere. Every place wanted 5 years experience, which I didn't have, but I did have confidence so I applied anyway. I got the first job I applied for, one that wanted 5 years and inpatient experience; I had neither. You just have to go out and apply, be confident and work hard

Stacey Rogers, CPC
Now that is encouraging! Thanks so much Stacey.
 
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