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Whinning new coders? I was shocked.

  1. #21
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    Medical Coding Books
    Quote Originally Posted by drobert View Post
    i appreciate your honesty. and I am not looking to replace someone with years of coding experience. I couldn't touch that. but I am disheartened by the lack of direction to start out in this profession. May I ask , what would you say are reasonable to expect first jobs, for someone who has 20 plus years of office experience (non medical), strong computer skills, database experience, and has a cpc-a certification?
    With your background, look into the HIM field. Health information management is growing and there are IT people needed who also know coding.
    Arlene J. Smith, CPC, CPMA, CEMC, COBGC

  2. Default
    Quote Originally Posted by btadlock1 View Post
    I think that the schools have a tendency to provide unrealistic expectations about students' employment prospects, once they graduate; and that, as a result, many newly certified coders feel entitled to coding jobs, and are given a rude awakening when they don't land them right off the bat. I see the same thing happen with certain collegiate-degree fields (Mass Comm, for example) - new grads become frustrated that all of their time was "wasted" getting an education, since no one will hire them without experience.

    Look, you have to have some experience somewhere; and if you don't, you can't feel like you're too good to start at the bottom to get it. That's "Having a Career 101", for any profession. No one's entitled to respect - you've got to earn it; and there's a serious difference between being a reliable (eg, experienced) coder, and merely passing a multiple choice test on the subject. It takes practice to build skills, and they want to know you've really gotten it, ahead of time.

    I can see how you would have interpreted a gripe as being overly harsh, but I've also read dozens upon dozens of posts from people who are "too good for filing", who have no more experience coding, than the filing clerk at the place they want to work - they're frustrated, and absolutely baffled by their inability to get a coding position - it does get old to read, and is discouraging to those who don't mind rolling up their sleeves in a 'mundane' position, to get their foot in the door.

    If you can't get a job without experience, then get some experience any way that you can. Intern, or use the AAPC's resources (like Code-A-Rounds), to get the "A" off of your credential, and keep trying. If you don't give up, you'll eventually succeed, and it'll all have been worthwhile.
    If you think that someone should just hand you a job, simply because you completed your course work, then I'd say yes, you have totally wasted your money and time, because the world simply doesn't work that way. So, I guess it's subjective.

    P.S. - Office experience is good enough for medical office experience in most cases. If you can use a computer and Microsoft Office programs, you're usually qualified. Don't sell yourself short - you're on the right track. Good luck!
    I have to say I agree with Brandi T. I do think many schools (some of them online, etc.) over-simplify the ease of becoming a successful (i.e. employed) coding professional. Education and work experience in other fields is helpful, but are not a substitute for timing, dedication, flexibility and old-fashioned networking. Preparation meeting opportunity = what some call "luck"!

    I have over 15 years coding and medical management experience, but the bad economy cost my husband his job and we had to sell our home and move to somewhere else in the country cheaper to live to start over. I had a well-paying job as an AR Manager/CPC, but daily did not use my coding all that much. Unfortunately, my salary wasn't enough to carry us and he couldn't find work so we packed up, sold off most of our stuff and hit the road. 6 months later I live in another state, have a job with benefits making about 1/2 what I used to, but he has a fulltime too (which is good for him, us & our marriage) and now I code 8 hours a day for a family practice. I have a lot less stress, I make enough to live on because it's a LOT cheaper where I live and overall I consider myself "lucky". BUT - I searched for 6 months for work, took many temp/part-time jobs and applied for jobs as a receptionist, scheduler and file clerk - just to get my foot in the door somewhere. I ended up getting a job that pays better than most around here and requires me to be a CPC - but what got me the job was partly networking (I knew someone who knew someone to get me the interview) and part experience - they wanted a strong player, comfortable working directly with providers who wouldn't be too intimidated to interact directly with them to improve their coding and compliance. That takes someone who knows how to research, get their facts lined up and have the confidence & knowledge to back them up when the doctors/NPPs want to question "the Code". That isn't going to be something someone new to the medical field would have been comfortable doing! I'm also helping to teach other non-certified coders and encourage them to get their certification.

    All I can say to new coders is keep networking, take a job ANYwhere you can - medical office or not - you are much more hireable if you are already working - and keep going to chapter meetings & keep up your skills, the stars will align for you someday when preparation meets opportunity for YOU!

  3. Wink CShaffer, CPC-A
    I just read through the previous posts and I have logged on and off of this forum several times debating on wether I wanted to post a reply or not. I just cannot read these posts without adding my opinion. I would like to say that I understand the frustation, as a CPC-A myself, how difficult it is to land a job in coding. I was recently working in a single provider's office as a Medical Assistant in hopes of moving into the Billing/Coding position for this practice. It, unfortunately, did not work out that way for me. I did not have ANY experience as a MA, but I did have many years of accounting/billing experience, and I worked extremely hard at the MA job. All those MA's out there know how hard the work is , and the pay isn't all that great. That being said, I feel that even though there has been some complaining, or "whining" was the word used, from the CPC-A's, I personally thought that use of the word whining to describe the frustrations of us CPC-A's was a bit offending. We are looking to our peers for guidance and re-assuring us there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are new to this and unsure about the expectations, just because we are frustrated doesn't label us "whiners". I thought this forum was for ALL of us to voice our concerns, encouragement, advice, as well as our frustrations...I have worked many jobs, and have given my ALL at every one of them no matter how much hard work was required. I have also worked very hard in my per suit in the coding feild. Although I do not expect a job to be handed to me, and I am very dedicated at working as hard as I need to, to get that job. It is quite frustrating to work that hard at something and not be able to get a foot in the door to get the much needed experience, and then post a reply voicing a very real concern only to have it labeled "whining", is quite disturbing to me. Just saying..,

    As to those of you who did post encouraging words and advice....Hats off to you and thank you. This advice and encouragement is vital to those of us who are looking to find our way in this feild. I refuse to give up in my search for the right job for me.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by machshaffer@aol.com View Post
    I just read through the previous posts and I have logged on and off of this forum several times debating on wether I wanted to post a reply or not. I just cannot read these posts without adding my opinion. I would like to say that I understand the frustation, as a CPC-A myself, how difficult it is to land a job in coding. I was recently working in a single provider's office as a Medical Assistant in hopes of moving into the Billing/Coding position for this practice. It, unfortunately, did not work out that way for me. I did not have ANY experience as a MA, but I did have many years of accounting/billing experience, and I worked extremely hard at the MA job. All those MA's out there know how hard the work is , and the pay isn't all that great. That being said, I feel that even though there has been some complaining, or "whining" was the word used, from the CPC-A's, I personally thought that use of the word whining to describe the frustrations of us CPC-A's was a bit offending. We are looking to our peers for guidance and re-assuring us there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are new to this and unsure about the expectations, just because we are frustrated doesn't label us "whiners". I thought this forum was for ALL of us to voice our concerns, encouragement, advice, as well as our frustrations...I have worked many jobs, and have given my ALL at every one of them no matter how much hard work was required. I have also worked very hard in my per suit in the coding feild. Although I do not expect a job to be handed to me, and I am very dedicated at working as hard as I need to, to get that job. It is quite frustrating to work that hard at something and not be able to get a foot in the door to get the much needed experience, and then post a reply voicing a very real concern only to have it labeled "whining", is quite disturbing to me. Just saying..,

    As to those of you who did post encouraging words and advice....Hats off to you and thank you. This advice and encouragement is vital to those of us who are looking to find our way in this feild. I refuse to give up in my search for the right job for me.
    This thread's gotten pretty long, so I may have missed it somewhere, but I don't know of any experienced coders on here who have categorized the complaints as "whining" - that's a very derogatory way of describing what are, in many cases, valid complaints. From what I've been able to tell, the only ones who have mentioned it are the new coders on here, themselves (which makes me wonder whether things might be getting convoluted in interpretation). We understand the frustration you're experiencing; we're just trying to convey that you've got to have realistic expectations about the career prospects to avoid disappointment, and that many of the folks out there complaining are missing that point...

    But, I digress...Keep your head up! Some employers don't know a good thing when they see it, so if you've gotten your foot in the door, and paid your dues, and you're not getting the opportunities that you're hoping for, build your resume, and take that foot somewhere else!

    It's a lot easier to get a job in the medical field if you already have a job in the medical field, so if you express to potential employers that you're wanting to move out of being an MA and into being a coder, even a lateral move (as an MA somewhere else, temporarily), could be your ticket to getting where you want to be. Definitely DO NOT give up! You're closer than you think!
    Last edited by btadlock1; 12-28-2011 at 04:48 PM. Reason: southern dialect slipped in...oops! :)

  5. #25
    Default
    The point is when you are fresh out of school, you are "fresh" in your mind and know your stuff. Billing in a doctors office is not that hard as the doctors circle the codes for the biller to send out bills & file insurance. Many of us are VERY experienced in other areas,
    and I would say, me personnaly have TRANSFERRED skills. I started out at age 18 with a job as a full time Bookkeeper (out of school in 65). I was up to years ago an
    Executive Assistant & Administrative Assistant; before I got laid off and worked as a ceritfied HUC/Unit Secretary where I also had to know a lot about Medical Records and some coding...then I went back to school to study MBC at Erwin Voct Tech for 11 months, and now a CPC-A and cannot find any kind of work. Just because you all are coders now, doesn't mean you can take shorthand, do bookkeeping, PowerPoint, write software programs, be a major fundraiser, many of us are very skilled in other areas and have become retrained for MBC. Hospitals use CSS and start one out in the ER or OP, and you have to work at that for a few years. I know my doctors Medical Biller very well, and she is not certified, and just bills what the doctor circles! Gee how hard can that be! I also was an Account Clerk AR in the past. I would think doctors would want to hire "fresh" brains, not someone who does not keep up with changes. I also have an AA & AS degree in Business and 30 hours in HIM. As I said many of us do have experience, but not in coding! Being a Unit Secretary for several years I had to know all aspects of medical records and doctors still don't count that as experience. You figure!
    Last edited by BJanePla; 12-28-2011 at 05:48 PM. Reason: Add on.

  6. #26
    Default I am amazed at the lack of support from
    I am amazed at the lack of support from other Coders in this forum. Please don't tell us we are whinning, we need support and "clues" or help to find any work in a doctors office, medical facility or hospital.

  7. #27
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by espressoguy View Post
    I obtained a coding position with no healthcare experience about 9 months after I got certified. I'll be the first to admit that I was a little lucky. After 30+ years in sales, I decided to make a career change. My wife is a manager at one of the local hospitals and she suggested I look into coding. She knew the coding manager and the coding director and was reasonably certain she could get me in the door. Towards the end of my studies at the nearby community college she got me an externship at her hospital. When an entry level coding position opened up several months later I got an interview, but was not offered the job.

    Fast forward to this past September, and I got a call from another nearby hospital and, long story short, I was offered the position and started on October 3. I was one of three new coders hired within a six week period, although I was the only one without experience. Once I got started I quickly realized that real world coding bears little resemblance to classroom coding. As someone mentioned upthread, it's not just about looking up codes. My supervisor and 2 of the experienced coders have spent a lot of time bringing me up to speed. There are not a lot of organizations that are able to invest that much time in a newbie. It's easier to hire experience.

    As far as being sold a bill of goods by my school, it didn't happen. I considered programs at 4 local community colleges and I talked with advisors at 2 of them. One of them actually tried to discourage me.

    I know how disheartening it can be looking for work. However, I am living proof that a person without previous healthcare experience can get a coding job. There is another poster on this forum who also got a coding job without experience. I believe the in-coming president of one of the local Seattle area chapters is a CPC-A who got his first job without experience. The other day my wife mentioned that her hospital has 2 openings for Coder I's. Under minimum requirements it says, "New grads welcome."

    All I can say is be encouraged by my story. Don't give up.
    To express guy: Maybe where you live there are opportunities, but many of us just can't pack up and move; Florida has tooooo many coders/billers ...and many of us can't get a job in Tampa Bay.

  8. #28
    Default
    Brandi,
    I am the person who had started this particular thread and the word "whining" was taken as a direct quote from another thread that I had read on the AAPC web site. I have been able to find some of the posts I had read. I had started this thread because I was shocked at the direct quote and was looking for encouragement. I just wanted everyone to know. Below are three of the posts:

    __________________________________________________ ________________________________________________
    #168 * * *
    07-13-2010, 04:33 AM
    Pam Brooks
    Expert*Join Date: Apr 2007
    Location: Dover Seacoast New Hampshire
    Posts: 404

    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.
    __________________
    Pam Brooks, PCS, CPC
    Physician Services Coding Supervisor
    Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
    Dover, NH 03820

    --and--

    Pam Brooks
    Expert*Join Date: Apr 2007
    Location: Dover Seacoast New Hampshire
    Posts: 404

    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.
    __________________
    Pam Brooks, PCS, CPC
    Physician Services Coding Supervisor
    Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
    Dover, NH 03820

    Last edited by Pam Brooks; 07-09-2010 at 10:45 AM.

    --and--

    09-01-2010, 04:41 AM
    Pam Brooks
    Expert

    Join Date: Apr 2007
    Location: Dover Seacoast New Hampshire
    Posts: 404

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gavyton
    That really stinks! I am currently a biller at an office in St. Pete Florida but I have hopes of getting into a practice that will pay me for my skills. I mean I am the only one in a small practice that does the billing here ( & then some ) & now they want me to take on coding as well. I hardly have time to do what I have now, posting, follow up, statements, not to mention the extras I must to in order to maintain flow & then to take on coding as well. I am going to sink in all this work. I am in school now for coding, I can only hope between my school seeking out jobs for me & my 2 years of billing that there is hope I can land a job that will pay more than I am making now. I mean I have a full plate here & hardly get enough money to make it. I really had hopes coding would open more doors but I can see that most places want 3 years or more coding. It is so depressing.

    Maybe instead of complaining about the increased responsiblity to "take on the coding", you can consider this an opportunity to learn more about this field. There are thousands of certified coders who are unable to get experience (never mind even a job) who would be thrilled to have the opportunity that you have been presented. Frankly, your attitude is unfortunate. Take a peek at the resume posting board...I bet someone there would love to take over for you.

    It's not about the money, and if it is, you should just move on right now. Nobody is getting rich in healthcare any longer. It's about job satisfaction and the opportunity to help and learn. With budget cuts, payer constraints and a poor economy, we're all overworked, but personally, I'm damned happy to have a job.

    Pull up your big girl (or boy) pants, everyone. Life isn't going to hand you a winning lottery ticket. You have to work to get what you want, and you're never going to start at the top. I've posted (and presented) on this topic before, and continue to be amazed at the whining and ranting on this professional board.
    __________________
    Pam Brooks, PCS, CPC
    Physician Services Coding Supervisor
    Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
    Dover, NH 03820
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ____

    On a positive note...I appreciate all of the additional information and words of encouragement we have received. I feel this has been very beneficial and has provided me with valuable information. This has helped to shed some light on why my applications have been denied. This is the information I wish I would have heard in the classroom.

    I think that, by knowing what to expect in the job search, will provide us with the tools needed to leap over hurdles : )

    Dianne
    Last edited by Butler; 12-28-2011 at 09:44 PM. Reason: Found posts I wanted to highlight.

  9. #29
    Default
    Well, I hate to tell you this, but when it's put into context, what she said makes quite a bit of sense.

    Two parts in particular stuck out to me:
    "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"

    1. She was clearly venting, due to a feeling of annoyance from reading post after post, of new coders with bad attitudes. (I too have shared in this frustration before, but have opted not to say anything on the majority of the posts, because the people who are constantly complaining in the manner described, typically have a "victim"-mentality, and would rather blame others for their situation, than "stoop to the level" of working some 'menial' front office job. It's annoying. There, I said it.)

    2. She's not talking about every new coder, or even every new coder who can't find a job - only the ones who feel like they know everything, just because they passed the exam - and especially those who have never actually coded before. I stress this point, because no matter how "fresh" you are from training, or how much time and money you spent learning about coding in school, the fact of the matter is, if you've never practiced REAL coding (i.e., no multiple choice answers to pick from, or superbill to look at, or providers' code choices to reference - straight up, picking the codes yourself off of a medical record) - then you are not a seasoned coder, like those that employers are looking for. It takes practice to build skill - not class time, or study guides, or practice tests - real world practice.

    I'm sorry, I know I'm being harsh, and will probably make someone mad; but it's the truth, like it or not. You can learn it, and you can learn it on the job, but someone has to take the time and effort to teach you. You are an apprentice - which is another word for "student". You're still learning, as we all are - only you're still REALLY green.

    I hope this doesn't discourage you - just the opposite; I hope it encourages you to go out into the world and try to get some practice. I don't do a lot of coding in my line of work - you know where I learned it? From these very forums. I went through where people were asking for help, and tried my best to give them the answer, by looking for it myself. (If you were to search WAY back through my posts, you'd see how often I was wrong about things...ALL of the time). Eventually, I got the hang of it, but only after more seasoned coders took the time to correct me, and help me understand where I'd gone wrong. If you can't get any on the job experience, do that. Maybe at least you can demonstrate your proficiency to an employer in a few months, and talk them into overlooking that "2 years of experience" requirement.

    I'll exit my soapbox now...
    Last edited by btadlock1; 12-29-2011 at 09:18 AM. Reason: [/COLOR] was bugging me

  10. Wink
    Brandi,

    I have wanted to comment on this thread multiple times, but just simply couldn't sum it up as eloquently as you. Brava.

    What frustrates me is that many (not all) new grad coders act like us "seasoned" coders have never had to start at the bottom, (I worked front desk and charge entry before I got a coding job) that we did not also spend our hard earned money and months of our lives study and learning to be a part of this field. That we also faced rejection and frustration.

    And honestly, it hurts when people say that experienced coders are selfish, that we don't want to help, that we don't understand, we don't get it and that we are hogging all the jobs for ourselves. We are here to help, to guide and advise, but if you do not want to listen to the advice that is given, that is your choice.

    My personal opinion- I did it, why can't you?

    Now, I will step off my soapbox

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