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Questioning Advantages of AAPC Membership

  1. #1
    Default Questioning Advantages of AAPC Membership
    Exam Training Packages

    I became a CPC-A in December of 2009. Both my educational (Master Degree in Finance) and professional backgrounds are stellar. Yet, despite all that, I have not been able to put my foot in the door in the Billing and Coding field because of my lack of experience in the field.

    A couple of days ago, I received an e-mail from the AAPC reminding me of my $120 membership renewal. In all honesty, I asked myself what it is that the AAPC has done or is doing for members like me to deserve my membership renewal. As an example, for the past year, I have looked at the Project Xtern site and I have yet to see any members in the Houston area, an area with an immense medical center and huge potential for recruting members into Project Xtern. What has the AAPC been doing to develop and foster membership into this program? While I concede that officers of the AAPC are truly receptive to our e-mails ad concerns when we contact them, they are unfortunately only reactive when they should be more proactive.

    I understand that as an AAPC member, you get certain benefits, namely receipt of the Coding periodical monthly. But after having spent the amount of time and money on becoming a Certified Professional coder, I firmly believe that my $120 membership should afford me a little more effort from the AAPC, which I am not seeing. Which makes me wonder.....All the seminars I attend are hosted by seasoned professionals in the field...Do none of them have any contacts that allow CPC-A members to grow and flourish?

    Warm regards...

  2. #2
    Columbia, MO
    As pointed out in several posts for issues like this you need to be receptive to positions in any capacity in this field, as a means of breaking in. You will more than likely not find a positionas a coder but you might get a position as a receptionist or as I started out, as a unit clerk in the hospital setting. Many of us that possess coding jobs have had to do exactly that in the past. It is not an easy job and many employers like to see seasoned veterans to choose from, and not necessarily season coders but if you have worked other aspects of healthcare and can bring that knowledge and experience to the table. I think the AAPC does an outstanding job of supporting coders and provides numerous resources for us to access. I hope you are able to find employment soon.

    Debra A. Mitchell, MSPH, CPC-H

  3. #3

    Thank you for your reply.

    I most certainly have been applying for positions in the healthcare field other than Billing and Coding. I have applied for Receptionist positions, Data Entry positions, Insurance Verification positions, and Payment Posting positions, all of which require a MINIMUM 1 year experience.. I have literally only seen about ONLY two openings for which they state that they will train...

    While I agree with you about the AAPC doing a good job, I believe more can be done to expand in the Houston market...

    Thank you for your well wishes!

  4. #4
    Greeley, Colorado
    Just a little further down the new posts past this one I saw a post for an employer looking for a coder in Houston. This was posted by AAPC staff.

    While I understand your frustration, the AAPC is here to support and promote our education and development in our field. The fact that they have provided a project Xtern is awesome. Not many associations that I am aware of try to help their newcomers gain experience. The $120.00 membership dues and CEU's keeps your certification current (I for one do not want to take the CPC exam over again); the website and Coding Edge provide excellent education for all of us. These things are not inexpensive. I know that is just the tip of the iceberg as to what the AAPC does for it's members. I suggest you contact someone at the AAPC for further clarification as to what your membership fee does for you.
    Lisa Bledsoe, CPC, CPMA

  5. #5
    I have to say, I disagree. I just recieved my notification also that my $120 is due and it amazes me that the AAPC starts reminding me to pay 120 days prior to due date. We all know that we are responsible for maintaining ceu's!

    I have been a certified coder since 2001 with the AAPC and 2003 with AHIMA. The only reason I pay my AAPC dues every year is because we have to in order to keep our credentials. AHIMA allows you to maintain credentials, submit ceu's and not be an active member which I think is much better.
    I think the AAPC can be difficult at times with ceu's. AHIMA will accept any course taken as a ceu's, the AAPC will not.
    If the AAPC didnt require us to pay our dues, I am sure many people would not pay. My hospital will only pay for AHIMA dues, I wonder if other facilities are like that as well.

    good luck in your job search, dont give up!

  6. #6
    Hospitals in my area require AHIMA rather than AAPC and most physician's office will take AAPC coders. If you have the money it would be wisely in my opinion to get certified in both. Like the previous post says not too many people get hired straight up coding, most of us worked our way up. I started off as insurance. But holding my CPC-A gave me the advantage to apply within the company before anyone else did.

  7. #7
    Wichita, KS
    Do not get discouraged...determination will get you far! I cannot speak for the Houston area but I feel that compared to other professional associations, AAPC provides a lot of opportunities for free or low-cost CEU's. This is great for those that have to pay for CEU's themselves. It seems to me that the problem isn't so much with the AAPC but with the job market. Keep doing everything you've been will work out for you!

  8. #8
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Default AAPC member benefits in more detail
    I hope I can provide some insight into some of the benefits AAPC members receive, as well as answer some concerns that were raised in this thread.

    We take pride in the quality of our credentials and have many processes in place to guarantee the high standards of said credentials. We want to prove to employers that our coders really know how to code efficiently and correctly, and that they are staying updated with everything in the coding field. So on top of a difficult examination, we are very selective with what counts for Continuing Education Units. We want to ensure that if our members attend an event that we have approved for CEUs, it is detailed, pertinent, informative, helpful, and altogether worth the assigned CEU credit. We also verify 25% of all CEU submissions to ensure adherence to our high standards. It takes a lot to accomplish all this--reviewing every application for CEU credit (and working with the events/publications that don't get approved to move toward future approval), reviewing roughly 17,500 CEU submissions per year (rough estimate of 25% of those who are certified), etc. The most common benefit of membership, maintaining your credential and its value, creates a substantial workload.

    Our publications are another obvious benefit of membership. Their high quality and coverage speak for themselves. The ability to obtain up to 48 free CEUs from these in any given CEU renewal period is a huge bonus. The local chapter meetings also provide cheap or free CEUs, a great opportunity to network, etc. Keep in mind that all local chapter officers are volunteers.

    A few other resources include the links under our "Jobs" tab, our new Apprentice Community page, discounts on coding-related products and services, savings on a wide variety of non-coding-related products and services, etc.

    On top of these current benefits, we are constantly offering new ones and making improvement. I highly recommend staying on top of these updates and improvements via the News and Updates E-mail that we send out monthly.

    For those who are concerned about a limited list of Project Xtern sites, keep in mind this is still a relatively new program. We're still in the process of contacting all the hospitals, physician's offices, etc. in the entire nation to explain the program to them and get them interested in signing up to participate. Obviously that will take quite some time to make all those contacts. Just the same, we're working on new ways to facilitate apprentices getting the "A" removed (keep an eye on News and Updates).

    As for the surprise of receiving our renewal reminder 120 days before the renewal date, there are multiple reasons for this. First, we now offer payment plans for individual membership renewal (another one of our newer benefits). The ideal payment plan is setup before renewal is due and paid off by the renewal date (although that is not the only payment plan option). These reminders help facilitate that. Second, many members do need reminders about their membership dues. Third, we recognize that a lot of members face financial hardships and/or do not have a job right now. With enough advance notice, they can plan, budget, and save to pay their membership dues on time and avoid any potential late fees. Finally, many members have their annual dues paid by an employer. We send out early reminders partly as a benefit to these employers, giving them ample time to budget and prepare the checks to mail to us.

    As an AAPC employee I admit I have struggled to stay on top of all the updates and improvements we make. We have a lot of member benefits right now and we're getting more constantly. It would be wise to take some time to browse the website; I would bet you'll find a benefit or perk you didn't already know about!

  9. #9
    Louisville, KY
    AAPC offered me a clear path to a career that didn't require me to necessarily have an advanced degree to be marketable--meaning I could pursue my academic interests while working at a very respectable position. AAPC also made me hirable from the date I received my exam scores.

    There are those within our HIM industry who do not appreciate the benefits of AAPC membership. It saddens me to hear our own members grumble about what they perceive as AAPC's lack of support. I couldn't disagree any stronger. Although I recognize the fundamental difficulties in our present job market, demonstrating experience, willingness and aptitude toward the duties of a coder or biller is key to landing the job.

    Many posts in this forum relay how one achieves positions that lead into potential coding, billing or allied work. It's wise to read these posts and take to heart what these experts tell you. I have been in this field nearly a decade and been very lucky the majority of that time. The key to furthering your career is never turning down learning opportunities, regardless of their presentation. This appears to be where most fall short.

    By the way, Coding Edge and this forum provide far more detailed and focused discussion of coding topics than any other professional association.

    Please remember that without AAPC, I doubt that coders would garner the wages and recognition they now receive. Although it is sometimes difficult to see individual benefits, it's the size, influence and voice of AAPC that make the most difference over time.

    Good luck to you.

  10. #10
    Default Well Said
    Dblackmer of the AAPC said it well. At one point, the feelings of what has my association done for me were entertained. Then I decided to do something about it. BECOME INVOLVED. I know what it takes to completely change from a wonderful and rewarding career as an Engineer into the Health Career Industry. Why? Something about the health industry always tugged at me but I was a tomboy and influenced by aeronautics. After getting burned out in the field, I made the long and never-ending switch into healthcare and found Revenue Management and Coding. It took me since 2002 when my doctor told me to get into another line of work because the physical demands were getting to be too great for me. I thought, Now what? I was burned out anyways. By 2006, I figured out where I was going and with whom. I am a member of several associations including AHIMA.

    If you feel like the AAPC isn't doing enough, well no one can persuade you to change your mind but put yourself in a challenge and take control. There is not one agency or association who is going to take someone's hand and guide them into the career bliss. What they offer to everyone can though. Set some realistic short term and long term goals. Then see yourself accomplishing them. The AAPC site is a wealth of information and I just spent the morning enjoying the Coding Edge reading how the AAPC has tipped their hand to the many changes they plan to implement in a couple of their articles. I feel like the AAPC has HEARD you.

    Any career you get into has some cost of keeping it. The plan to get out of it what you put into it starts with the individual. It helps to research and KNOW what you are getting into before taking the plunge.

    I really wish well for you and hope that this narrative encourages you and not offend you in any way. It wasn't meant to offend, but enlighten and encourage you.

    Good Luck,
    Last edited by KellyLR; 08-10-2010 at 02:00 PM. Reason: grammar

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