AAPC - Back to school
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Thread: Some Advice if you Please...

  1. #1

    Smile Some Advice if you Please...

    AAPC: Back to School
    I am a 48yo male that has been laid off after 22 years in the automotive industry. I decided I would try Coding because it is very similar to manufactures warranty coding procedure. I am taking on line class to include Coding, Billing, Terminology and Electronic coding. I have a lot of time on my hands.

    What I am looking for is some guidance and to the best way to become certified and enter the job market. I understand that it will be at the bottom of the food chain but thats OK. I am patient and this looks very challenging.

    Any and all help would be greatly appreciated...Dave

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Milwaukee WI

    Default Entry level as soon as possible

    Having no background in the healthcare field you will face a definite challenge. Focus on your strengths; draw that parallel between manufacturer warranty coding and medical coding.

    My advice would be to start looking for an entry-level position anywhere that will take you right now, while you complete your training and get certifiied.

    Many of us started out as the receptionist or medical records clerk, and worked our way up from there. These were positions that didn't require coding certification (and didn't involve coding or billing) but did give us a chance to learn the general business of healthcare and show our employers what kind of valuable employees we are.

    You have integrity, determination, a mature work attitude, and proven stability. Go for it!

    F Tessa Bartels, CPC, CEMC

  3. #3


    Thank you for the words of encouragement...One question and I do realize I am a distance from this but should I look at CPC or CPC-H as a newbie...

  4. #4

    Arrow CPC testing for a newbie

    Honestly as some one who has already completed one course from a school and then took the CPC course as well. I think who ever told you to get your foot in the door was dead on. Look at it this way and I hope that I dont offend you by saying this but I have been working in billing and coding for five years now and am just at the point where I feel confident in my skills. What I am trying to say is that to learn the basics from a course is good but then you need to learn how all that new information transfers to the real world of billing and coding. After all of this, then go for the CPC certification it will really help you in the long run as this test is not just coding but includes different aspects of billing as well, not to mention the terminology isn't always what you would expect either. I wish you the best no matter what your choice is and am sure you will do great no matter what.

  5. #5

    Default Dave

    I just wanted to wish you the best of luck. You have a very refreshing outlook and obvious maturity. I know you will do well in this field with hardwork and determination.
    My husband is a union electrician and he has also said his code books and mine look similar. There is no doubt in my mind that you will be able to pick it up quickly.

    I am so sorry that after so many years in the work force you were laid off.

    Good Luck and keep us all posted on how you do!
    Kelly Long CPC, CFE
    Manager Audit and Compliance

  6. #6


    I think understanding the terminology and anatomy of the body is half the battle in understanding coding. Without the fundamentals you won't know your tibia from your fibula. I encourage you to start here.
    adrianne, cpc

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Swainsboro/Statesboro, GA

    Default Suggestions

    Hey Dave,

    I have been in healthcare for 28 years, and I've seen a variety of things! Here's just a few:

    You don't have to be certified to get a coding job. I would suggest you start applying for any healthcare related jobs, and let your prospective employer know you are studying coding and plan to become certified. Some employers will even pay for this!

    I know several certified coders who have never coded as part of their job. But they passed the exam and they are certified!

    Regarding CPC vs. CPC-H, the H certification is for hospitals and you must know facility ICD-9 procedure coding. All coding is interesting, so it would probably depend more on where you will be working. Some hospitals own physician clinics, so having both certifications would be a plus!

    You will not necessarily be starting at the bottom of the food chain. Depending on where you live, some areas do hire based on no experience but having the certification.

    Some free standing clinics that operate more than your standard 9-5 hours may hire less experienced coders, only because of the later hours. I have known several coworkers who had side jobs in these late hour clinics. It's also good experience as you will see a variety of conditions and situations.

    There is a LOT of information on the CMS website! There are also free "classes" available there. Being familiar with the CMS website, reading and keeping up to date with ever changing regulations, and sharing this with a prospective employer would be a bonus!

    If you haven't already done so, I would suggest getting involved with your local chapter. You never know who you might meet!

    Good luck and happy studying!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    I think it's great that you got in here and asked questions. Networking and learning, learning, learning is a big part of coding. It's always changing so since you're already "checking it out", that is a big plus. Find your local AAPC chapter and attend the meetings. It's a great place to learn about job openings, listen to someone speak on a certain topic, network with other coders (and billers, auditors, etc, because as mentioned before, certification can lead you in many directions) and just have a good time!

    Best of luck to you!
    Pam Tienter, CPC, COC, CPC-P, CCS-P, CPMA, CPC-I
    AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer
    AAPC National ICD-10-CM Trainer

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Charleston, South Carolina


    Hey Dave,

    A few suggestions,

    You may want to start at a billing service. Explain you are not experienced, BUT WILLING TO LEARN and start anywhere. The billing services I know of will hire smart people willing to learn and train then, with increases in position and salary as you prove yourself.

    You may want to sign up for some of the on-line programs that have webinars on a routine basis. Some include medtronic.com, bostonscientific.com, spineline.com, and more. Some of this you may not understand yet, but I think seeing and listening to actual coding situations, will tell you what you want to look for and where you need to direct more attention.

    I would also suggest, if you haven't gotten them yet, a few classes on anatomy and medical terminology. I am from the old school - didn't have a coding class - my background and college (years ago!) was in medical assisting and office managment, I kind of grew up with coding, but my point is, you can never have too much med term, or anatomy. Trust me, I had five classes of med term and still had difficulty with the med term on the exam (and I have 20+ years of experience with transcription). I thought I could figure out any word, lol! I have a paperback book written years ago, it has prefixes, suffixes and root works and teaches you how to break eveything donw. If you want, contact me and I will make you a copy.

    Ok, enough of my 2 cents. GOOD LUCK TO YOU, I like your attitude.
    Machelle Morningstar, CPC, COC, CEMC, COSC
    AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer

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