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.
Last edited by Pam Brooks; 07-09-2010 at 10:45 AM.
Pam Brooks, MHA, CPC, PCS, COC
Dover, NH 03820
If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney