No Coding Jobs for inexperienced Coders

lisahup

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jjhamer1, thank you for your post. I've been reading this thread and your response made me feel a little more optimistic. I am halfway through my coursework now and I do believe that now is the time to get my face out there, make connections, etc. I landed my first full time job the exact same way you obtained your coding job. I literally made a pest of myself, he HAD to give me the job just to shut me up!! I was there 16 years. So, in short, your post made me optimistic after reading so many posts that were making me fearful. I am not going to give in to fear, I am going to make my dream come true and I will find a job. I am going to make it happen. Thank you for your post!
 

mlinton

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Good news about ICD10.

ICD-10: New Codes, New Opportunities
The adoption of ICD-10 is a gigantic leap into the unknown for medical coders and healthcare organizations on either side of the payment process. The comfortable, time-tested relationship with ICD-9 codes will be shelved for the new, vastly unfamiliar codes that comprise ICD-10.

Not surprisingly, the mere thought of diagnosis codes jumping from the thousands to more than 100,000 in October 2011 is already causing administrators and coders alike to reach for the aspirin. Keeping up with the codes will be a tremendous task for coders and healthcare organizations that have spent more than 30 years using the ICD-9 system.

But the conversion to ICD-10 – directed by the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – is about more than replacing one set of codes with another. It represents an unprecedented opportunity to improve the quality of information, which will – over the long run – benefit every constituent of our healthcare system.

ICD-10 gives the healthcare industry the chance to improve the way it handles documentation and coding operations through technological capabilities and human expertise and, at the same time, to elevate the power of biosurveillance and pharmacovigilance.

Considering, however, that even small changes to the current ICD-9 system can net 80 percent to 90 percent denial rates initially, the overwhelming scope of the disruption stemming from ICD-10 cannot be understated.

Given the diversity in size, specialty, and payer mix within the healthcare industry, the complications of the change are nearly impossible to properly measure. But so, too, are the new codes' possibilities in terms of technology adoption, research, and discovery.

A Computer-Assisted Lifeline

The enormous increase in the number of codes available will likely cause many healthcare organizations to seek technological solutions to help deal with code selection. While the use of computer-assisted coding (CAC) is not new, the adoption of ICD-10 may cause adoption rates to increase considerably.

In fact, a recent survey of medical practices shows that two-thirds expect to purchase software to manage the change. CAC will offer organizations a lifeline during a chaotic time – automated code selection from a sea of unknown new codes. At its core, sophisticated CAC helps organizations harness incredible amounts of information and streamline the coding process.

Through natural language processing (NLP)-driven software, CAC applications “read” physicians' dictated reports and, to varying degrees, extract clinical language to assign appropriate and accurate codes for patient encounters.

The technology already reduces the demands on human coders by removing their involvement in simple and repetitive coding tasks, letting the technology tackle those tasks instead. This frees human coders to focus on the more complicated and challenging aspects of coding.

CAC will do the same thing – and more – with ICD-10. Rather than leaving human coders to dig through ICD-10 coding manuals, the technology will mine medical reports, assign relevant codes, and present them to human coders to review and approve. Through this process, coders will be able to learn along the way and expand their familiarity with ICD-10.

This alone will be a tremendous benefit for organizations that fear the effects that cost, training, and time investments in ICD-10 will have on their staff. Healthcare organizations should heed warnings of a Band-Aid® approach with CAC, as all systems are not created equally.

Term-matching or pure rules-only systems employ an “if, then” approach: If such software detects the phrase “diabetes,” it will code for diabetes, but it may not catch contexts that could change the diagnosis (such as “negative for diabetes”), nor information elsewhere in the record that supports a more refined diagnosis (i.e., reference to malnutrition).

More advanced systems use NLP to evaluate the entirety of a medical report, scanning for all possible diagnosis information. This is especially relevant for ICD-10, where the volume of codes will increase to about 155,000 from ICD-9's 17,000, in order to tackle diagnosis coding at a more granular level.

Organizations should also be aware that some systems are configured to send reports directly to billing after simply matching codes to a list that a claim scrubber would approve, without more sophisticated validation of the codes given the evidence in the dictation.

This lack of proper review introduces significant compliance risks, especially in light of an entirely new code set – trying to predict what a scrubber would approve with ICD-10 is an unknown gamble.

CAC applications should verify accuracy based on national coding guidelines, coding results from a myriad of organizations, input from certified coders, and statistical analysis, in addition to advanced coding and statistical technologies.

The technology should also be able to offer continual reporting and aggregate analysis of the changes that review coders make to its output, to highlight possible areas for technology refinement and coder education – a vital element as human coders begin to learn the new ICD-10 code sets.

Operational and Medical Insight

Beyond the opportunity for broader adoption of coding technology, the additional promise of ICD-10 in the United States is coming into focus. The current ICD-9 system was developed more than 30 years ago and simply cannot support today's healthcare, much less that of the future.

The codes are already stretched to cover current diagnoses, because today's practice of medicine has grown to involve concepts unthinkable in the 1970s. Medicine, technology, and diagnoses have advanced incredibly in the last three decades, while coding remains mired in outdated systems, and essential healthcare information too often remains locked away in unanalyzed clinical dictations.

With ICD-10's new organization of codes, medical coding can catch up to today's healthcare because ICD-10's granularity offers the industry a real chance to revolutionize the way it gathers and processes information. Driven by vast amounts of data, rules, and analysis, ICD-10 dives deeper into the building blocks of diagnosis than ever before.

At the same time, NLP technology excels at extracting such structure from unrestricted medical language. By pairing deeper standards of description with NLP technology's ability to automatically map language to structured information, healthcare organizations can discover patterns, identify outliers, and create flexible and powerful new windows into their operations.

NLP's capacity to map from language to structure has already proven its value in other domains. Automatic information extraction serves as the foundation for surveillance, interactive search, and knowledge discovery applications in business intelligence, homeland security, and biomedical research. What healthcare could do with the same kinds of insight is boundless.

ICD-10 gives the data to support – among other things – biosurveillance, pay-for-performance initiatives, safety improvements, quality measurements, and more accurate reimbursement rates. In short, the new code set offers a better way to organize data, and ultimately provides higher-quality information to gauge the safety, efficiency, and quality of care.

By embracing ICD-10, the American healthcare industry will adopt a richer, more systematic, and more extensible approach to clinical documentation. Doing so will reveal unprecedented opportunities to link documentation and diagnoses to new knowledge and deeper medical understanding.

— Andy Kapit, MBA, is CEO of CodeRyte Inc. (www.coderyte.com), based in Bethesda, Md. Questions and comments can be directed to editorial@rt-image.com.
 

RyanW

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I'm so glad this thread got started. I wish it had been here before I spent (sometimes I feel like wasted) three months of my life to become a CPC. Those thinking of getting into coding should first be required to read this entire thread.

I gave up looking after the rude awakening I got when I started looking for a coding job. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it, imagine the profits that are being made off of inexperienced and unemployed CPC coders.

That's my little rant and it is common among all entry level job fields but coding is especially difficult to crack into and it's a shame that's not more commonly discussed.


My situation is that, I was fortunate enough to get hired as an anesthesia tech and have been working for Health One for a year now and have developed an excellent reputation for myself. My certification expires on March 30, 2011 and I have NO CEU's, I have not decided if I want to spend any more money on the coding world yet. I've not even re-newed my membership fees to the AAPC.

If I were to get my rear in gear and get my CEU's here:
http://www.healthcarebusinessoffice.com/catalog-pg1.htm

and push forward with getting a coding job, how would my luck change considering my status with a large company and good reviews as an employee?
 
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I am currently enrolled in medical coding course through local college, will be finishing in August and scheduled to sit for exam in September, but all these statements on not having experience really bothers me. How can you get experience if they do not allow you a starting point. Was a little discouraged at last class, instructor stated also that area hospitals would probably not hire inexperienced coders. So how do we all overcome these obstacles. I am 54 years old, lost my job 2 years ago and have not been able to find anything do to the economic decline. I have bookkeeping and office management experience which I believe would be an asset to the extended experience of a coding position. Not sure what to do proactively to get the skills I need to become successful in this profession.

Cheryl Aiken
Lebanon, NH
 

RyanW

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At least your instructor is honest...mine lied through her teeth:mad:

I was also unemployed while studying, that's why I was able to pass on my first try. The only advice I can give is to get employed in health care or insurance and be positive and persistent. My spirits are easily broken and that's why I still don't have a coding job.
 

KellyLR

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Breaking In

I wanted to respond to Cheryl Aiken's post about switching careers. It seems like that was what you did. I had done the same thing. Briefly put, I started my transition more than 5 years ago because I was tired of the Engineering field but trapped because I made excellent money. I knew by switching careers, I would have to downsize economically and other ways to make a change possible. It was HARD. Once I realized I wanted to code or perform coding related duties, I spent some $$ with an oline school and took Medical Billing and Coding Courses. All the courses were outstanding except the Coding. The book sucked, the curriculum sucked and god bless her, the online instructor tried her best. But I was green as a golf course when it came to coding, but I knew this was my thing from the first time I opened a book on it and saw the numbers. I winded up purchasing the Study Guide and online practice tests from AAPC and passed the CPC exam on my own. If I would have only relied on the crappy course I took (I didn't know any better) I would have walked away long ago. Well, now I am a coder and one way I survived the transition was by develping a strategic plan. It was simple. I transitioned myself by burning the candle at both ends working my main job while I went thru school and educated myself. I first got credentialed as a CMBS and found odd and part time work billing. I hated that stuff, but I did it. The pay well, I almost threw in the towel but I just thought of where I will be once i got through the hard part of transitioning. This took over 4 yrs. Now I am in coding, doing remote, and have another job lined up for straight 40 hrs in auditing. I knew I wanted to code or work with codes because my enthusiasm for it was on fire and still is. These two jobs will pay me enough and almost put me back where I was financially. The road is tough! What i found out thru this is keep yourself practicing to code, make a job out of finding a job, accept each interview as an experience to landing the right job for you when it comes. I went on many an interview, and honestly, some I was really interested in and flubbed the interview or process or there were some that clearly were not a fit for me and my style. My next goal is degree in HIM field.

There is a job for every person out there who wants it. Don't be discouraged andfeel like, "a test everywhere ya go?" It's true. Everyone including doctors, nurses technicians most likely HAVE to take a test and background check to get employed. Not just coders. Study up on the trends of hiring as well. They have changed many times in the last ten years and one needs to keep up wih the younger ones because they are the future.

I sincerely hope and pray you find was to build yourself and get the job you want and need. May God Bless and you keep moving forward.
 
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HEDSE

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No jobs for inexperienced coders

Hi
Just adding my bit, indeed it;s an uphill task, no one wants to give us newbies a chance,how can we get experience, if persons in the field are unwilling to give us a chance. I graduated from college just over a year ago, and passed the CPC in September 2009, I know its not as long as some persons, and they are still out there looking for a hire, but, we have to keep the faith and keep on keeping on

WE, THE INEXPERIENCED CODERS,,,,,,,NEED A CHANCE AT GAINING SOME EXPERIENCE
HELP US!

(We may need to set up a Chapter of Inexperienced Coders, and have a Conference some time soon!);)
 

DMRgn2010

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Hi
I AM IN THE SAME SITUATION, I HAVE BEEN TRYIN TO FIND A JOB IN MEDICAL CODING AS WELL AND THE AREA WHERE I LIVE IT IS EVEN HARDER, BUT I HAVE HAD SOME OPPORTUNITIES, BUT OUT OF FEAR I GAVE UP, BUT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THAT. I ADMIRE YOUR ENDURANCE, AND BELIEVE ME IT IS GOING TO BE WORTH IT. I SEE THAT YOU HAVE SENT YOUR RESUME OUT, BUT HAVE YOU TRIED LOOKING UP YELLOWBOOK. COM AND FIND ALL OF THE CLINICS IN YOUR AREA AND MAIL OUT YOUR RESUME, I BELIEVE SOMETHING WILL TURN UP. SO KEEP HANGING IN THERE.

P.S. DON'T KNOW IF YOU ARE RELIGIOUS, BUT READ ROMANS 8:31

FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME: marty3073@hotmail.com
I also like this verse: Romans 8:28! I haven't been certified yet.. but hope that by the time I do become certified that there will be a job waiting for me. But not just me, especially those of you who have been certified and have had a hard time getting a coding job. I kind of wish there was a "Coder's Assistant" type job that I could work.. That would help me get more experience while I am studying and reviewing for my cpc exam (Sept). That would help me practice and possibly help me pass my exam... but all I can do is "practice" my coding skills. I've been trying to get a job at a medical billing office for a general medical office assistant (clerical) hoping to work closely with a coder. But, in the meantime, I'll still study, review, and practice my coding skills.
 

DMRgn2010

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I am also a "newbie"...but, persistence is the key to success.
I had applied online to the position I now hold...at the time, I was still in school, uncertified, but eager to learn as much as possible. When I applied, the ad read: Certified coder 3-5 years experience...I applied anyway...wanted to see if anyone was actually looking at these online resumes!! I recieved no response!!
Three months later, I was performing my externship, and during that time, I went back online, only to find the same position was still open...only now they wanted a certified coder with 3 months experience. I was all over it. I had planned to take my certification test in mid-December. Anyway, I found out who was in charge of hiring for the position. I literally made a pest of myself, and finally got in front of the supervisor. I assured her she would not find a more dedicated individual who would put forth 110% of effort all the time. All I needed was a chance to show what I could do.
Found out I passed the certification test on Christmas Day, and started my new job Dec. 28th.
I have been here for three months now, and apparently doing well, as I have been given many more responsibilites besides just the clinic coder (eleven clinics). I am auditing the docs, coding anesthesia for the hospital, and charge entry. I am always willing to meet the challenge when I am asked to do more...the more I learn, the better the job security.
And did I mention, I am a grandfather...age 53. If I can do it, anybody can!!
Don't take "no" for an answer!!
Good Luck!!
Thanks for that uplifting, hopeful message... I have a question, though, you were able to get an externship opportunity before you were certified? I wish there were more of those. I live in the Tyler, TX area (surrounding area) and am hoping for an opportunity to help me "practice" my coding skills to strengthen my knowledge which I believe would help me pass my coding exam in addition to my studying and reviewing for my certification exam. I have a question, though, did you pass your coding exam the first time?
 
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I agree with you that AAPC misrepresents the job market in their advertising. They take our money for the dues, classes, testing, seminars and don't give CPC-A's one thing in return but a kick in the butt. As an organization that is to promote the Certification of Professional Coders I think they have failed us (CPC-A) miserably. Then they have the nerve to tell me to go out in my community to find companies that will take coders to do externships for their program. I am in the process of finding out how and to whom to file my complaint. If I can take legal action for false representation, I am going to do that. All together, I have spent more than 12,000.00 for an education, books, seminars, memberships, dues, etc. and not a JOB to be found that doesnt say " AT LEAST 2 YEARS EXPERIENCE REQUIRED ".
 
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You were lucky that AAPC knew where your state was for an externship. Until 2 weeks ago, they didnt know Delaware was a state, let alone have externships available in that area. They told me to go out and find someone that would do externships because they didnt have time. I did that. They registered with AAPC but I still have not heard anything about the externship. Then I found out the company advertises for coder/billers and then tries to sell them education so they can get hired! I am ready to go to McDonalds and flip burgers. This is just a racket as far as I am concerned
 

Butler

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I am finding that the temp agencies are also asking for 3 years from their clients.
 

Pam Brooks

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As someone who has been in this business for 20+ years, and who is in the position to hire entry level coders, I really want to respond to this thread.

First, I agree that it's frustrating to have spent time, money and effort, only to learn that the healthcare field is not waiting for you with open arms. But I want to ask each and every one of you who are not currently able to find work to look at this situation from my perspective, and then ask yourselves who is really responsible for all of this? Let me be as blunt and as polite as I possibly can. If I offend you, I apologize in advance.

One post I read lamented that they had spent "3 whole months" learning this work, and felt ripped off because nobody would hire them. If anyone thinks that they can learn coding in three months, and expect any physician, facility, or billing agency to hire you with that "expansive" length of education, then you were sadly misinformed, or did not take the time to do the research, which is, by the way, a necessary skill required of all coders. The biggest trend I am seeing in this thread is that many of you didn't do your research. Before plunking down your money for your coding classes, did you call any hosptials, physicians or billing companies to see what they required for education and experience? Or did you rely on the advertisements and promises of the coding schools alone to convince you that this is a wide-open field? Had you called me (a coding supervisor for a hospital-owned multispecialty practice with 90+ physicians) I would have told you that I do not hire new graduates for staff coding positions, and that the EMR has eliminated the need for entry level coding assistants.

I did recently have one entry-level position open up. I threw out several resumes for spelling and grammar errors. (hello....attention to detail??!!) Some applicants had schedule requirements that I couldn't meet, like they couldn't work on Tuesdays because they had to babysit the grandkid. One showed up in clothing that voilated our dress code. In the end, only four certified coders were in the running. I was shocked that only one could tell me the difference between CPT and ICD-9. You can see how this might be discouraging to an employer, because it tells me that not everyone is getting the best training, and not everyone wants to do all that they can to secure employment.

According to the Coding Edge between April and July of this year, there were nearly 2100 new CPC-A's credentialled. I do not blame the AAPC, as many of you have. The AAPC is a for-profit company, dedicated to promoting and educating excellent coders, and they do a fantastic job. But why shouldn't they take take your money if you offer it up? They are not responsible for the job market, your resume content, your interveiw behavior, your lack of education or experience, your geographic region, or that you took a chance on this career and can't get a job. That is your responsibility. Threatening litigation on this website is career suicide; there isn't a coding manager on earth that would hire you now.

Here's what I look for: Is your resume spotless? Are you? Look in the mirror, appearance does count, sorry. You'll be speaking with physicians and will wear a badge that identifies you as an employee, and we want you to be neatly and professionally presented. Skip the cigarette before the interview, I can smell it. Explain to me what it is about you that makes you someone that I want to hire. I can teach you to code, but I can't teach you to be motivated, organized, personable or smart. Figure out what kind of coder I need (surgery, E&M, rad, lab) and then brush up on those areas, because I'm going to test you. Ask me questions, don't just sit there!

I once had an interview for a job that I really wanted, and did not get the job. I couldn't understand why...I thought the interview went extremely well. Later, I asked for feedback as to why I wasn't selected, and it was the most valuable career advice I have ever received. I made mistakes (unknowingly at the time) that were pointed out to me, and although it was difficult to hear, I never made those mistakes again. So if you don't get the job, find out why, because even though you don't want to hear this....it might be about you, and it might be something you can do differently next time with more favorable results.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I hope that I was able to give a different perspective. The best advice I can give is to stay focused, accept any position within the healthcare field, avoid the bad attitudes, and keep trying.
 
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I think Gail you should attempt the auditing positions that require the nursing degree with coding degree. I think you are very fortunate to have both. Use that to your advantage! Good luck! Gail Davis, CPC
 

anapravnik

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Thank you Pam!

Miss Pam,
If I may, I'd like to thank you for your perspective and input on this matter.
It's very discouraging to read this post and participate in the pity-party. I myself am a student and took my exam yesterday; I hope to hear good news about the results later this week. As much as I can empathize with some of the sentiments expressed earlier by inexperienced members, the attitude and the sense of entitlement on the part of some is shocking.

I hope this won't sound harsh.

It makes you wonder what kind of time and effort they devoted to researching the field before they decided to attempt certification. Potential employers can sense negativity; it's like a poison that would creep into the entire organization. It's not hard to see why some are experiencing difficulty gaining employment. I read over the resume postings on the forum just to see what kind of credentials and experience other members have. Many of those submitted by the CPC-A's have atrocious errors. It shows, as you mentioned, a lack of attention to detail at best and at worst, just plain laziness. Why on earth wouldn't you use spellcheck and have a family member or friend proofread your resume?

Your experience and advice is sound and very much appreciated. It's great that you provided so many particulars about the job search and these will be remembered as I begin to see what opportunities await me.

Thank you again.
 

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Amen! Pam

Let me thank you too, Pam for your insight. I have been with the AAPC since I passed the exam in 2004. They have been nothing but helpful to me.

As for breaking into the coding field, you may have to find another route to it. I started working at an answering service in 1990 and used any scrap of knowledge that I could get from the doctors who used our service to land a job at the local hospital as a unit secretary. At that point, I didn't even know coding existed. After working in the hospital setting for several years, I accepted a position as a receptionist in an internal medicine office. From there, I went to work for an ENT doing insurance and billing which led to my first coding opportunity.

That opportunity came because I had built credibility in the medical community, not because I took a few classes and passed an exam! My physician paid for me to go to school and take that exam AFTER he trusted me.

I'm with you Pam, I wouldn't offer a job to anyone with the poor attitudes and the whining I am seeing in this thread. Time would have been much better spent asking seasoned coders for advice!

Michele R. Hayes, CPC, CPMA, CEMC, CGIC
 

Pam Brooks

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Perhaps the whining will stop, and the board can be used for the purpose it was originally intended...to offer guidance and support to professional coders.

Thanks for the kudos. I just felt that it had to be said. I'm off my soapbox now.
 

aaperry

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I am taking my exam on 7/17. I was resently hired in a dental office working with insurance. It's not medical coding, but works along the same line. Even though it is difficult to "break in" to medical coding, I agree that a person needs to take any opportunity that is offered and to establish knowledge and credibility within the medical community. I have been in the medical field since 1996 and have built a name for myself. Each job that I have held has helped me build my career to where I am today. The dentist that I will be working for is my regular dentist. He knows me, my work ethic and knows some of the providers that I have worked with, which has helped my reputation.
 

dclark7

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I would like to add a few words to Pam's post. I have also been in this field for a very long time (30 years). I recently started teaching the billing portion of a Coding and Billing class offered by a local Community college. While I try not to discourage any of my students, I was very surprised to find that many of them thought they could take their Certificate of Completion (it's not a dregree program) and get coding jobs. Many did not even want to sit for the CPC exam.

I agree with Pam completely, many of the new coders have not done their research. Many of my students are taking this class because they've seen ads that say coders will earn $35-40,000/year. They also hear that you can do coding from home. With the large amount of coding courses available, the market has been inundated with new, inexperienced coders. The problem with this is that with all the government regulations and policy changes doctors and hospitals don't have time to train new people, they need someone who has at least a basic understanding of how the system works; and three months in a training course is not going to give you this.

One of the other things Pam mentioned was the amount of errors in resumes and people coming to interviews in inappropriate clothing. I have a very large physician network and this is a common complaint when they are looking to hire. People, LOOKS DO MATTER! Hide the tattoos, remove the piercings and dress like a professional (no ripped jeans or belly shirts). Have someone proofread your resume and correct mistakes (grammatical and spelling) and remember this is not a text message to your BFF. If some of the posts I've read lately are any indication of coders education, we need to add an English course to the requirements.

Another issue I've heard from physicians and Medical Records Directors, new coders do not know how to abstract information from a chart or note. Nearly anyone can pass a multiple choice test, but real medical records are not multiple choice. As Pam said, do your research.

I've been doing this long to enough to know that times will continue to change. Years ago doctors could hire anyone off the street and train them. They no longer have that option, They need people who are sticklers for detail, aware of current laws and regulations, able to keep up with changes in the law and able to keep them informed. Three months in a coding class is not going to give them what they need.

Doreen, CPC
 
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DMRgn2010

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I would like to add a few words to Pam's post. I have also been in this field for a very long time (30 years). I recently started teaching the billing portion of a Coding and Billing class offered by a local Community college. While I try not to discourage any of my students, I was very surprised to find that many of them thought they could take their Certificate of Completion (it's not a dregree program) and get coding jobs. Many did not even want to sit for the CPC exam.

I agree with Pam completely, many of the new coders have not done their research. Many of my students are taking this class because they've seen ads that say coders will earn $35-40,000/year. They also hear that you can do coding from home. With the large amount of coding courses available, the market has been inundated with new, inexperienced coders. The problem with this is that with all the government regulations and policy changes doctors and hospitals don't have time to train new people, they need someone who has at least a basic understanding of how the system works; and three months in a training course is not going to give you this.

One of the other things Pam mentioned was the amount of errors in resumes and people coming to interviews in inappropriate clothing. I have a very large physician network and this is a common complaint when they are looking to hire. People, LOOKS DO MATTER! Hide the tattoos, remove the piercings and dress like a professional (no ripped jeans or belly shirts). Have someone proofread your resume and correct mistakes (grammatical and spelling) and remember this is not a text message to your BFF. If some of the posts I've read lately are any indication of coders education, we need to add an English course to the requirements.

Another issue I've heard from physicians and Medical Records Directors, new coders do not know how to abstract information from a chart or note. Nearly anyone can pass a multiple choice test, but real medical records are not multiple choice. As Pam said, do your research.

I've been doing this long to enough to know that times will continue to change. Years ago doctors could hire anyone off the street and train them. They no longer have that option, They need people who are sticklers for detail, aware of current laws and regulations, able to keep up with changes in the law and able to keep them informed. Three months in a coding class is not going to give them what they need.

Doreen, CPC
That is so true, Doreen! Practice is the key! I am very detail-oriented and enjoy looking for and finding the correct codes. I also agree on the great importance of keeping up on laws and regulations and especially "Communication" skills as coders need to ask a physician, etc. for more information in order to code the diagnosis and procedures correctly so that the claim will not be rejected.
 
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4848@frontiernet.net

Hi don't feel that you are alone. Like many others I have applied for everything from receptionist to coder. It is very dishearting to realize that you have spent your time and money to learn this challenging career only to find that the doors you though might open are closed to you due to lack of experience. I have tried the externship, volunteering but to no avail. I even applied for housekeeping. Nothing. Sort of make you wonder why. I have taken a part time position as a ROI which has messed up my unemployment. So I can no long volunteer funds shortage. I wish you the best of luck in your search. If you find a way of opening the doors let us know and I will do the same.:)
 

marcia Brown

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job hunting

I am having trouble the economy down turn didn't help any. I don't have the actual Dr office experience. I do have 13 yrs with Aetna medicare part B but I left that job in 85. my frustration is that coding experience lacked customer contact, And all my recent experience is totally phone and customer contact. But that is a retail setting and doesn't seem to translate. I have been certified now with -A- for 2 yrs. I am in a small town in oregon and there are no extern opportunities unless I move to a larger city 3hrs away.. I find it really scary to see all the newly certified names each month. I know many are already working. But the apprentice column is large as well. I wish every one much luck and success. AND IF ANY ONE know if my medicare experience is valid now let me know
 

semaxwell1

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Getting Apprentice removal online

This just came out last week. This sounds very promising and wonderful. As soon as I get certified, I am definitely going to try this out. :)

http://ht.ly/2CmAe

Virtual Experience: Apprentice Removal

As an alternative to on-the-job experience, a CPC-A may earn the removal of the apprentice designation by accurately coding 800 operative notes virtually. The operative notes are real, redacted notes representing 17 specialties and are available to code online. We believe this experience will closely simulate coding in a multi-specialty practice. This will serve two purposes for the CPC-A. First, it will enable the removal of the apprentice designation without having to get a job, which is often difficult to obtain without experience. Second, it gives the coder a proficiency score to show to potential employers to provide evidence of coding skills.
 

guinnevere

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This just came out last week. This sounds very promising and wonderful. As soon as I get certified, I am definitely going to try this out. :)

http://ht.ly/2CmAe

Virtual Experience: Apprentice Removal

As an alternative to on-the-job experience, a CPC-A may earn the removal of the apprentice designation by accurately coding 800 operative notes virtually. The operative notes are real, redacted notes representing 17 specialties and are available to code online. We believe this experience will closely simulate coding in a multi-specialty practice. This will serve two purposes for the CPC-A. First, it will enable the removal of the apprentice designation without having to get a job, which is often difficult to obtain without experience. Second, it gives the coder a proficiency score to show to potential employers to provide evidence of coding skills.
This is really great news!

I'd also like to reiterate how important getting your foot in the door can be- a good resume and importantly, a COVER LETTER, can go miles. And of course, dress for success, practice interview questions and have common questions ready to answer beforehand. Practice proper grammar and sentence structure with a friend- impressing is the key in a an interview. If you have a colloquial style of speaking, now's the time to try to assimilate yourself.

If you don't have a lot of experience, try using a student or skill-based resume format, which highlights your skills and education rather than previous employers. These are particularly helpful if you're making a career change.

Don't forget- formatting and format are essential. If you're unsure, and it's an online or email submission, send your resume and cover letter in a universal format! It's of no use if the hiring manager can't open or read it.

If anyone would like someone to look over their resume, let me know.

If you're having trouble finding employment in a physician's office, try your local hospital websites, of course you're posting your resume on different employment sites (don't forget craigslist), and if all else fails, try a mass mailing of your resume.

And do try for other medical positions, such as medical records, HIM, front desk, etc. If you do get in, try to be 500 times more professional than you think you can be- never be late, be full of knowledge and helpful with tasks, and always cheerful. Once they know your skills, you may very well be up for a promotion soon!

Good luck!
 

rheitkamp

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Ladies -you are absolutely correct! I am one of those CPC-A's. I bought the salary info, the demand information and everything I read on AAPC. I did not do my own research and that is my mistake. The only outside questions I asked were of my PCP and his nurse while I was at a Dr. visit and they were very positive about my plans - however - I know now that I should have spoken to their office mgr. regarding the "real" needs of the office. Three months of training and a multiple choice test (although I am proud to have passed the 1st time) is not enough training. We were exposed to some abstracting of notes, however, not enough to walk into an office and be ready to go.

I am willing to take responsibility for my own mistakes, and I am trying to correct the problem, but I don't know how to go about it. I don't have the typo or dress code issues that were described, and I know how the CPT, ICD-9, and HCPCS code sets are used.

Thank you both for your honesty.
 

kortiz

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I too am a CPC-A without coding experience, so I've tried to get my foot in the door as a receptionist in an office. On my last interview I was told that I am over qualified for the position. With secretarial experience in a legal office and a tax office I am over qualified to be a receptionist. How do I get out of this catch-22?
 

brookievb

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Foot in the door

My best advice for you is to get your foot in the door somewhere. Prior to my current coding position, I worked in ED registration and precertification while attending school and it helped me greatly. Any type of medical administrative background will most certainly help you in your future coding endeavors. I know my supervisor gives 'fresh starts' a second look if they are certified and have some other type of medical admin background. GOOD LUCK!
 

AHVC

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What I tell my students who are frustrated by this same situation...you have to get your name out there. I suggest to all my students that you attend your local chapter meetings every month and start making contacts and networking. Make up business cards that are short and sweet. Include you name, your credentials, and what your degree is in or going to be in. Include a phone number and an email address.

I have 1 student who actually took my advice and got out there and met with people at her local chapter meeting and she pursuaded them to take her on in an internship program while she was finishing her schooling. She has no medical coding/billing or health care experience for that matter but when she graduates she will have along with her degree.

It is a tough job market and you need to think outside the box in securing placement in the medical and dental field. That are a lot of other options besides working in a doctor's officer or a hospital as a medical coder or biller. Look at your local Medicaid office or Medicare office for an entry level position, look at health insurance companies also in your area, talk to your dentist, your doctor, the school nurse. The jails and prisons utilize health care, there are positions in utilization review and data entry for billing offices. You can also look at home care agencies or a software company that specializes in electronic health records or practice management systems. Look for jobs in the referral department or pre-authorization areas, or benefits and eligibility departments. The list of jobs for health information management professionals is endless and do not just stop with medical coder or medical biller.

The harsh reality of the situation is that without actual hands on experience most people will be hesitant to hire you. The billing and coding process is vital to the financial health of a health care organization and they are not going to feel comfortable turning over this huge responsibility without knowing you have a proven track record. While your schooling is to be applauded and having your credentials is an awesome achievment also think about where they are coming from when the bottom line of the organization falls to the medical coding and billing operations to bring the revenue in. They want to be sure that the money they are entitled to is being handled by coding and billing professionals that have a work history that shows there knowledge and expertise. So while you are frustrated, you also need to understand why they are hesitant to perhaps hire someone without experience.

Get out there and network at your local chapter meetings and get to know people. Networking is so very important as you embark on your new career or if you are changing roles in the medical billing and coding field.

I started out as a file clerk in a home care agency many years ago...I then got my coding credentials and my bachelors degree in health care administration and now I am a health care fraud specialist for a federal health insurance plan and an instructor for medical billing and coding courses.

But I cannot stress how important it is to get out to your local chapter meetings and start networking. The jobs are not going to just end up in your lap and your hopes of getting to work from home in a remote position without any actual coding experience are slim to none unfortunately even though I hear this a lot from my students that this is why they are going into medical coding and billing.

You can see from the posts from the very experienced coders both certified and non-certified, it is a tough job market out there.

I wish everyone luck in their search and to stay positive even though it can be very frustrating.
 

emmieg1@yahoo.com

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CPC-A Jobs

Hi everyone

It is frustrating that they need experience before they can offer a job to a CPC-A. I became a CPC-A in September and honestly there is no hospital, building, clinic, urgent care,employment agency, career builder, etc,etc that does not have my resume.

I applied everywhere not only for coding, but also for patient registration, dietary aide, and medical records. Just get your foot in, work for 6 months and then you can start applying for the inside jobs in coding. Meanwhile make friends in there for connection, go to your charter meetings and network.

Almost always you can meet someone that knows a place that hires. Also, I think what helps is you take the extra classes in CPC-H, E/M, and the ICD-10. I am almost done with my CPC-H, and in November I will be taking my E/M class, and in January my ICD-10. All that I made available information in my applications for jobs.

It has been barely two weeks and I got my first job interview for an outpatient coder for a big Hospital. I am so excited and I hope I do well in my interview and my coding test for the job. So, be patient, pray to God for help, network, go to charter meetings and show interest in getting more certifications. Good luck to all and I do pray for all to get a job very soon.

If anyone is interested to take online classes for CPC-H, E/M, and ICD-10 they are only a couple of months, and taught from one of the best AAPC credited instructor. Her name is Lynn Schoeler, I have taken my classes from her.

Her website is www.certifiedcodertraining.com and her e-mail is lynn@certifiedcodertraining.com. Her phone is Toll free: 866-737-3701. Please mention that her student (me) referred you to the school.

Take care all and good luck

Emmie Gouvisis CPC-A

REMEMBER, YOU ARE ALREADY A WINNER, YOU PASSED A DIFFICULT CODING TEST. HOW MANY DO YOU KNOW WHO WERE ABLE TO DO THAT- FORGET YOUR CLASSMATES, I AM TALKING ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE YOU MEET IN YOUR EVERYDAY ROUTINE.
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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emmieg1@yahoo.com

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CPC-A Jobs

Hi everyone

It is frustrating that they need experience before they can offer a job to a CPC-A. I became a CPC-A in September and honestly there is no hospital, building, clinic, urgent care,employment agency, career builder, etc,etc that does not have my resume.

I applied everywhere not only for coding, but also for patient registration, dietary aide, and medical records. Just get your foot in, work for 6 months and then you can start applying for the inside jobs in coding. Meanwhile make friends in there for connection, go to your charter meetings and network.

Almost always you can meet someone that knows a place that hires. Also, I think what helps is you take the extra classes in CPC-H, E/M, and the ICD-10. I am almost done with my CPC-H, and in November I will be taking my E/M class, and in January my ICD-10. All that I made available information in my applications.

It has been barely two weeks and I got my first job interview for an outpatient coder for a big Hospital. I am so excited and I hope I do well in my interview and my coding test for the job. So, be patient, pray to God for help, network, go to charter meetings and show interest in getting more certifications. Good luck to all and I do pray for all to get a job very soon.

If anyone is interested to take online classes for CPC-H, E/M, and ICD-10 they are only a couple of months, and taught from one of the best AAPC credited instructor. Her name is Lynn Schoeler, I have taken my classes from her.

Her website is www.certifiedcodertraining.com and her e-mail is lynn@certifiedcodertraining.com. Her phone is Toll free: 866-737-3701. Please mention that her student (me) referred you to the school.

Take care all and good luck

Emmie Gouvisis CPC-A

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE TRULY WINNERS. YOU PASSED A DIFFICULT CODING TEST. THAT IS A GREAT SUCCESS ITSELF. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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AHVC

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It sounds like your determination is really paying off. GREAT JOB!!!!!! and Good luck at your job interview.:)
 

mlwatson2005

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Virginia Beach
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Cpc-a -

I just want to say that I know the job search part is very hard. I stayed in a position for 6 years waiting for the right one to open -but when it did.. it was WELL worth the wait. My circumstances were probably different, I wasnt an apprentice, but sometimes things just are what they are.

I agree that attitude is key when you are trying for ANYthing new.

Present yourself in a positive light- focus on what you HAVE to offer.

For Exanple: Instead of starting out with how hard the job search has been, try this: " I have __ years experience as a biller/coder, I have __ years experience as an MA,LPN, MOT, etc. and I have worked in the medical field for __years. I am a hard worker, loyal employee and am not a partaker in office drama. "

The interview is not the place to vent about how hard its been to find a job or how frustrating it is to have an opportunity to get experience. Sometimes you might even have to start out in a lower position to work UP to what you want to do (or start out as a temp)- - but at least its a foot in the door. You will have benefits, you will be gaining experience and they learn about you, you learn about them and they can SEE that you are what you have advertised. Doors will open and you will be given the chance to prove yourself.

Just a thought :)

LaNeice Watson, CPC-H, HBA, HCM
 

DMRgn2010

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I just want to say that I know the job search part is very hard. I stayed in a position for 6 years waiting for the right one to open -but when it did.. it was WELL worth the wait. My circumstances were probably different, I wasnt an apprentice, but sometimes things just are what they are.

I agree that attitude is key when you are trying for ANYthing new.

Present yourself in a positive light- focus on what you HAVE to offer.

For Exanple: Instead of starting out with how hard the job search has been, try this: " I have __ years experience as a biller/coder, I have __ years experience as an MA,LPN, MOT, etc. and I have worked in the medical field for __years. I am a hard worker, loyal employee and am not a partaker in office drama. "

The interview is not the place to vent about how hard its been to find a job or how frustrating it is to have an opportunity to get experience. Sometimes you might even have to start out in a lower position to work UP to what you want to do (or start out as a temp)- - but at least its a foot in the door. You will have benefits, you will be gaining experience and they learn about you, you learn about them and they can SEE that you are what you have advertised. Doors will open and you will be given the chance to prove yourself.

Just a thought :)

LaNeice Watson, CPC-H, HBA, HCM
Thanks, LaNeice! That is great advice and positive advice. I had been wondering what to tell them when they ask me about my unemployment. I have been studying and reviewing again for my CPC retake in Dec. I believe I'm understanding how to look for the correct code(s) in the coding manuals and not spending too much time on the question/scenario. So I hope my extensive practicing and studying will help me to pass it this time. Also, I know I spent too much time on a lot of the E/M questions which I'm not very good at... but I am understanding it better with more practice. Here's hoping and praying!:)
 

emmieg1@yahoo.com

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It sounds like your determination is really paying off. GREAT JOB!!!!!! and Good luck at your job interview.:)
Thank you for your kind words. My interview was today, I thought it went pretty well. The HIM Director made me feel very comfortable. I will know next week if I got the job. If not, there is a possibility I can work there as an Intern, no pay of course. If they like me I have a better chance of being hired as a permanent employee.It is all in God's help.

Thank you

Emmie Gouvisis
 

rthames052006

True Blue
Local Chapter Officer
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Good luck- wishing you the best!

Thank you for your kind words. My interview was today, I thought it went pretty well. The HIM Director made me feel very comfortable. I will know next week if I got the job. If not, there is a possibility I can work there as an Intern, no pay of course. If they like me I have a better chance of being hired as a permanent employee.It is all in God's help.

Thank you

Emmie Gouvisis
I am wishing you the best of luck on getting this job! You have such a positive outlook.... even if you can get teh internship, as you said it could lead to employement.

Good Luck!
 

jnewberry

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Never give up! I am a coding director in a billing company in Grand Rapids, MI.
It is always nice to have those experienced coders, but with them you have to bring on all of the bad ideas or habits that they carry with them.
We have been doing some hiring for coders. I personally feel that it is nice to take coders right out of school.....they are eager and willing to learn, with fresh ideas and positive attitudes. You are important to the coding world and in the year 2013 when ICD-9 changes to ICD-10 there is going to be a big need for coders because some of those that do not want to learn ICD-10 is going to parting ways with their jobs. Learn all you can and you will come across someone like myself that believes in each and everyone of you.

Best of Luck and don't give up.
 

ealasaid76

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Jnewb

I wish there were more managers like you! I'm a hard working and eager apprentice that is willing and able to learn anything.

Like everyone else, I've been applying everywhere and anywhere. It's a catch-22: Where do you get the experience you need?

That should be addressed. :)
 

1224927

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I am having the same problem but i just graduated. I have spoken to people in meetings and at my internship and even though they are saying that their own work is swamped and are having trouble keeping up with work load, one place even got rid of a position when one gal left. They are not allowed to hire any more. I know that these clinics and hospitals are not hurting for money and people get sick no matter what the economy is doing so why? I really don't get it. I am one of the last few in my class to get a job but I have placed more effort than they have-getting certified and going to meetings. I apply to about 2-3 a day and I dont even get an email saying no thanks- how rude right? I know that when my certification comes up i will not go for it again, I might not even pay any dues cause this is not helping me out at all like it is supposed to.

I don't know what tricks there are to this but I am frustrated and need to go and pay for schooling so off to those deadend jobs I go right.
 

cheermom68

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no jobs

One reason why hospitals are cutting back is that they are suffering from increased bad debt because patients are not able to pay their bills. Also, insurers are cutting back on payment and the RAC program is taking back money from the hospitals. They are also having to pay increased amounts for their own employees health benefits. I realize that people still get sick, but hospitals suffer on their bottom line just like everyone else.

LeeAnn
 

Grintwig

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Cheermom68 is right and not only are the hospitals hurting but all physician's offices are. Insurance companies have cut payments for procedures and E/M. On top of that Medicare one of the largest (if not THE largest) payers has been in a sort of limbo for quite a while now. The fee schedule has been a mess for the last 2+ years and it doesn't look like there will be any real resolution to this. At one point this year it looked as if physician payments were going to be cut by 21% which is huge especially when you consider a physician's office's overhead. At this point we are looking at an almost 30% cut on January 1st if the SGR isn't corrected/fixed. Physician's offices are scrambling to cut costs as much as they can in the event that this cut comes to pass. So far it has been stalled/delayed several times but the possibility makes everyone very tense.
I will admit I got very lucky in getting the job I did with absolutely no experience and right before the health care issue blew up. In my area no one starts off at what my employers started me off at even with experience. It took me 6 months to find my job but it was well worth all of the interviews and resumes. I just kept plugging away and mailing resumes, studying, reading everything I could about coding and using every free resource I could:)
For new coders the best advice is what everyone else has been saying. Apply for everything, be willing to start anywhere and work your way up, keep studying and perfecting your skills. A good employee who has proven themselves willing to work, willing to be flexible, and willing to grow and learn in the field is even more valuable in the healthcare field now than ever before.
 
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Making the right connections

My mother told me, if I wanted to harvest a crop, I had to pick up the shovel and dig! It is possible to find a entry level coding position, but you may have to work for it. Here are some stratagies that may prove helpful for you: 1. Working as an entry level claims adjustor where you get experience reading medical charts can be a beginning toward moving into a position as a coder. 2. Most people that I know began their career by being in the right place at the right time. And to do that you have to make connections in your community getting the word out that you have the credenial. Every time you see a doctor, go to an urgent care facility or hospital, it is always worth while to find out the name of the person who does the hiring .... and then following up with that person.... 3. Keep a clean copy of your resume and a business card (call card with your contact information) handy (like in the trunk of your car). 4. Get on the planning board for community activities so that you rub elbows with the rght people -- is there a walk for breast cancer or a dinner at a local church for a local child in need of a transplant-- getting to know people who are in a position to suggest you as a perspective coder for a doctor who needs one is so important. Word of mouth is always the best advertisement! 6. While waiting for your opportunity, voluneer for hospice or the oncology department in the local hospital, etc. (great for the resume). You get the idea. 6. Having dual certifications of nurse and coder are prized among perspective employers. So, if you aren't in the right place right now --- and you really like the medical field, then, begin a two year certificate program and become a nurse, too. If you could pass the AAPC or AHEMA exams, you have what it takes to do this too. Just don't sit around being frustrated ....working toward a nursing certificate may hold the key.
And, hey, I wish you well in your endeavor::)
 

CAO0921

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Hi, I have a wonderful job, but very stressful. I have many years of experience in the medical field and know quite alot, but I think I don't give myself enough credit where experience is involved as far as everyone wants there money taken care of by people who are not even up on the latest information. I also have my CPC, and I know everyone wants experience. Just, keep trying that is all I can say!
 
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Charlene,
You could try doing what I did. I told the folks at my last interview that I would scrub the toilets, sweep the floors and empty the trash cans if they would hire me.
They did....and I don't. lol
But my willingness to commit to any unpleasant task demontrated my motivation.
It's worth a shot. It worked for at least one of us.
 

mprfrosty185

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I'm an Information Technology professional, with 20+ years of experience in the business. I've been recognized as a mentor and a leader, have an expert level computer skillset, embody the term "self starter", have years of experience in customer service, and have a commitment to providing quality work.

I became a certified coder back in April 2010. I excelled during the training, so much so that I was asked to substitute for trainers while they missed class. I perfomed well on the CPC exam - 88%. I feel that I possess an exceptional resume (listing THREE Fortune 500 companies), have excellent written and verbal communication skills, and would be an asset to any organization that would provide me the opportunity.

My results after eight months of searching for a job is ONE rejection letter. Most of the companies in the area won't even respond with that. I see all of the jobs listed locally (I reside in the Northern Cincinnati suburbs), yet NO ONE seems to want to give a CPC-A a chance to get their foot in the door. I find that totally absurd, because if anyone has the pedigree to be a success in this business, whether it be in billing, coding, customer service, teaching, whatever, I tend to feel that it would be me.

After eight months, I have to feel that training and certification is leading to nothing more than dead ends. I won't denigrate myself to scrub toilets or sweep floors to get my foot in the door. Should we be throwing more money at further training & certifications within this field, or is it time to cut our losses and look at other professions?
 

vwest7817

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Has anyone tried the "Virtual Experience: Apprentice Removal" option?
I'm thinking about it, but would like to hear from other CPC-A coders and get your impressions.

Virginia in San Diego
 

jticbs

Networker
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@ Virginia in San Diego, to remove the A from CPC title, you have to code correctly 720 op-note out of 800. You have two trials to do this. If still fail, you have to pay again. The fee is about $200. I have never tried this. In my opninion, it is a lot of work and I'm not ready yet. If you think you are ready, go for it. Best of luck

Johnathan Tran, CPC-A
 

kevbshields

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mprfrosty:

Have you applied at IT and EMR vendors? It's becoming more common to find people with combinations of education and experience from HIM and IT; however, it is unusual to find a certified coder with IT experience (at least in my area). These vendors need (now more than ever) to gain a foot hold of credibility in this time of HIM transition. I would imagine that with your skill set, you'd be a nice fit for multiple positions available through those vendors.

Regardless, with a strong Resume that points toward experience outside of health care, network at local chapter meetings. Find a hiring manager who can critique your Resume and suggest updates. Also, since you are savvy with IT, create a presentation for your local chapter--I'm sure they'd love a speaker with this combination of experiences. This highlights your professionalism and may open doors for you.

Good luck.
 
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