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Elimination of “A” Designation: The Apprentice designation is not needed anymore

  1. #91
    Location
    San Antonio TX
    Posts
    25
    Default Elimination of A
    Medical Coding Books
    I hear yeah Sis...Tell them..


    Quote Originally Posted by pamps76@yahoo.com View Post
    None of this really makes ANY sense to me. I graduated from an AAPC- approved 1 yr. rigorous coding school 1 yr. ago. At the same time, I was/am pursuing an A.S. degree in Health Information Technology (will graduate in May and then take the RHIT exam). I passed the AAPC certification exam as a CPC-A. I have been very diligent trying to get any experience to get rid of the "A" on the end. I have tried to participate in the Apprentice program that AAPC offers, with the closest office being 45 minutes away from me and they had nothing available for me. My question to ALL seasoned coders, hiring managers, etc.. is how do we gain experience (and therefore get rid of the "A" on our credential) if no one is willing to hire non-experienced coders??? You can't get experience if you don't have any experience!!! It is highly FRUSTRATING!!!!! Passing the CPC exam was grueling in and of its self only to be "awarded" with a credential that means nothing...and even less than nothing if you have the scarlet "A' attached. Woopee, now I get to pay more money, and take yet another test to get rid of the "A".....and guess what, still no experience, so still NO JOB!!!!!

    I am highly-motivated and generally possess a positive attitude, but this whole thing really rubs me the wrong way!!! Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! Happy New Year!!

  2. #92
    Location
    Dover Seacoast New Hampshire
    Posts
    1,970
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by suziski View Post
    How does a new coder obtain this experience when it is not in the coding classes? It is obtained with on the job training and experience. How is a new coder suppose to get this?
    Revenue cycle, payer guidelines, CCI Edits, Healthcare law, communication skills, and denial management are all skills and concepts that can be replicated in a virtual office "lab" and taught in the community college level. What I'm seeing with entry-level coders are a whole lot of really earnest people who know how to look things up in the CPT and ICD-9 books, have a general understanding of medical terminology but don't know what the word "adjudicated" means, and who don't know how to use the CCI edits. It's just as frustrating to me as it is to people trying to get hired.

    Whose fault is that? Good question. The school, for not providing a comprehensive education? And for the 20K I've read that people are plunking down for this opportunity, I sure hope they got some of this training. Or do we blame the students for not researching coding job descriptions in advance of selecting coding coursework?

    But the bottom line is that without that knowledge, lately (with a bad economy and a strict budget) it's hard for me to bring anyone on that is going to require a lot of additional training outside the new-employee training like multiple software applications, company policies, and Joint Commission requirements.
    Pam Brooks, MHA, COC, PCS, CPC, AAPC Fellow
    Coding Manager
    Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
    Dover, NH 03820

    If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney

  3. Default
    Ms. Brooks,

    My name is Christine, and I would like to say that I have been following this post for a while now, and I have also posted a few comments as well, and I have been taking in everything you have said about this issue. I want to say that I admire the fact that you are trying to explain to the CPC-A's, myself included, just how much more is involved to becoming a certified coder. I totally understand your point of view, and I also appreciate the fact that you are seeing our frustrations as well. I would like to know what you think should be done to help the apprentices that are "Stuck in limbo", and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the "A" removed? Do you think we should sit for another test that just shows we have the ability to find the codes in the CPT and ICD-9 manuals? I don't know if you have seen any of the things I have posted, I'm sure you have though, and I was wondering how you feel about the Apprentice Removal Program that AAPC has attempted to implement?? I am just curious to what your opinion might be?

  4. #94
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by Pam Brooks View Post
    . . . That's why I strongly believe, and have communicated to the AAPC, that there should be a two-year (at least) experience requirement in order to sit for the CPC examination.
    That sounds like a good idea, AHIMA set up the CCS exam that way as well.

    However, if AAPC goes that route, than they need to switch things.
    For those that are not able to achieve the two-year experience (coding that is), then you must EITHER pass the 20 note Clinical Exam or complete the 800 note Virtual Experience program BEFORE you can sit for the CPC exam.

    If you are still unable to achieve a job (paid or not paid) that would allow you any kind of “coding experience” 12 months after passing the exam, then you should be able to EITHER retake a new 20 note Clinical Exam or complete another new 800 note Virtual Experience program. Since it appears that the Project Xtern is unfortunately not as widely available across the country, this seems the best route. I would hope this would show potential employers your dedication and persistence even if you lack "real-world experience".

    As for other kinds of "experience", your resume should show that you have that. As Pam had stated in a previous post, there are many other types of experiences, besides just coding, that are involved in this industry. Read the job description carefully. IMO, if just extracting and looking up codes are at least 80% of the duties, than I believe the above mentioned should suffice as experience?

  5. #95
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    26
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by ajs View Post
    Currently there is no change in what it takes to remove the A from your credential. There is a proposal being discussed to allow further testing to replace part of the requirement, but it is not yet official. So as of now, you still need either two years experience validated by an employer or 80 hours of classroom work and one year experience.
    Thanks, that helps
    Tracy Hecox, CPC
    thecox@summitps.com

  6. #96
    Location
    Dover Seacoast New Hampshire
    Posts
    1,970
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by machshaffer@aol.com View Post
    Ms. Brooks,

    My name is Christine, and I would like to say that I have been following this post for a while now, and I have also posted a few comments as well, and I have been taking in everything you have said about this issue. I want to say that I admire the fact that you are trying to explain to the CPC-A's, myself included, just how much more is involved to becoming a certified coder. I totally understand your point of view, and I also appreciate the fact that you are seeing our frustrations as well. I would like to know what you think should be done to help the apprentices that are "Stuck in limbo", and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the "A" removed? Do you think we should sit for another test that just shows we have the ability to find the codes in the CPT and ICD-9 manuals? I don't know if you have seen any of the things I have posted, I'm sure you have though, and I was wondering how you feel about the Apprentice Removal Program that AAPC has attempted to implement?? I am just curious to what your opinion might be?
    Hi, Christine. Thank you for your comments.

    There are many, many frustrations here. Even as recently as six or seven years ago, I would have given my right arm to have some entry level coders to help with the manual charge entry, filing, and administrative tasks, while they learned the ins and outs of coding and billing. With the rapid changes that my facility has seen...EHR, automatic coding/charge capture, paperless office, etc., I have so much less need for entry level staff that I can't even provide much of an opportunity for anyone who has less than a couple of years coding/billing experience. While all this was happening, the coding schools (and the AAPC) weren't quite paying attention, and provided me and other hiring managers with a great group of people that I can't reasonably employ! It's a major catch-22. The only suggestions I can make are repeats of the ones I've been listing for months....get your feet wet however you can.....front desk, registration, payment posting, customer service, or even dietary, housekeeping, and administrative assistant.

    Personally, I'm not sure what an additional test would prove, unless it included some of the topics I outlined above, such as revenue cycle knowledge and denial management strategies. But that's not easily measurable in a multiple-choice test, so I see it as having to be an essay or presentation project. Imagine the AAPC having to manage that kind of examination venue, with 30,000 apprentice coders wanting that kind of opportunity? It boggles my mind, and certainly would be a logistics nightmare. It's not that I don't sympathize, but my loyalty lies with my employer, who trusts me to hire the very best people for the job, with the best return on investment. And these days I need experienced coders, that can hit the ground running. To hire an inexperienced (although willing) apprentice would be a bad business move. And after all, healthcare is a big, big business.
    Pam Brooks, MHA, COC, PCS, CPC, AAPC Fellow
    Coding Manager
    Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
    Dover, NH 03820

    If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney

  7. Default
    Quote Originally Posted by Pam Brooks View Post
    Hi, Christine. Thank you for your comments.

    There are many, many frustrations here. Even as recently as six or seven years ago, I would have given my right arm to have some entry level coders to help with the manual charge entry, filing, and administrative tasks, while they learned the ins and outs of coding and billing. With the rapid changes that my facility has seen...EHR, automatic coding/charge capture, paperless office, etc., I have so much less need for entry level staff that I can't even provide much of an opportunity for anyone who has less than a couple of years coding/billing experience. While all this was happening, the coding schools (and the AAPC) weren't quite paying attention, and provided me and other hiring managers with a great group of people that I can't reasonably employ! It's a major catch-22. The only suggestions I can make are repeats of the ones I've been listing for months....get your feet wet however you can.....front desk, registration, payment posting, customer service, or even dietary, housekeeping, and administrative assistant.

    Personally, I'm not sure what an additional test would prove, unless it included some of the topics I outlined above, such as revenue cycle knowledge and denial management strategies. But that's not easily measurable in a multiple-choice test, so I see it as having to be an essay or presentation project. Imagine the AAPC having to manage that kind of examination venue, with 30,000 apprentice coders wanting that kind of opportunity? It boggles my mind, and certainly would be a logistics nightmare. It's not that I don't sympathize, but my loyalty lies with my employer, who trusts me to hire the very best people for the job, with the best return on investment. And these days I need experienced coders, that can hit the ground running. To hire an inexperienced (although willing) apprentice would be a bad business move. And after all, healthcare is a big, big business.

    Thank you Pam for your reply. Believe it or not, I appreciate your honesty about the reality of the healthcare industry, and how it has grown. I just wonder what can be done to get the word out to the colleges/technical schools to get them to maybe offer some detailed courses on the topics you mentioned above? Do you think that might be something that would help to get the new coders a better understanding of the "real world" job?? Or maybe get the word to them, that an apprentice program at the college level is needed? I just wonder...

    I know all about the "hit the ground running" issue. I actually took a job in a medical office in 2010, just a few months after I passed the CPC exam. It was a position as a Medical Assistant. I had absolutely NO prior experience in a medical office, and definately none as a MA, I had to "learn on the job", "hit the ground running"! I was able to obtain this job by basically going around town passing out my resume, talking to the people in the doctors' offices, and fell into it. The doctor was a teaching physician so I suppose that is why she was able to hire someone like me?? Although it was a GREAT experience, it was not meant to be. I worked for 14 months before they replaced me with a nursing student. Although I was quite upset at the time, I completely understood giving someone who was going to nursing school the opportunity. I am very greatfull for the experience that I received during my time there. Although my duties were mostly clinical, I did do some front desk work,(verifying insur., pt scheduling, A/R posts, etc.), and quite a bit of managing pt records in the EMR. So, I do have some understanding of how the medical office works, it just didn't lead to the Billing/Coding job I was hoping for. I know I have much, much, more learning to do, and I plan on learnig as long as I can, I just wish I could get the chance to prove myself. I am definately NOT below taking a job, whatever it may be, I was kind of a "nurse" for a while, and I was actually good at it, who knew?

    Anyway, I am sorry to be so long winded, but I am trying very hard to help, in any way I can, to find a solution to this issue for myself, as well as the other CPC-A's, who are willing to work for the recognition to a potential employer. I also realize the economy being what it is, is not helping in this situation. So, I am going to a chapter meeting tomorrow for my FIRST time. I am going to try the "face-to-face" networking, you never know what can come of it??!

    Thanks again, and any information/advice you can offer is greatly appreciated!!

  8. Default Cpc
    I just got my "A" removed the old fashioned way by going to school and getting my year of experience. I was very fortunate to be hired 6 months after I graduated as a coder for a multi-specialty clinic. I would be very frustrated if I already passed the CPC and I was working as a coder, but didn't have a full year under my belt and had to take the additional exam. Good luck to all the newbies on the new exam!!

  9. Default Lori CPC-A
    I think this is just another way to squeeze more money form hard working people. I took the coding course after becoming unemployed with 30+ years of medical office, I had done everything possible in the medical office except the coding piece. So why not, it was the most difficult and stessful test I have ever taken and most people will agree with me. I don't see the need for the A at all. Every position is different and you will always learn as you go along. I did land a job in another medical facility, not in the coding or billing for that matter, (Clinical Clerk) As it stands now,none of the people working in billing are certified and as of Jan.1, the department is being replaced with our EMR provider. So, so much for advancement in this company!


  10. Default
    I worked hard to pass the CPC exam. I passed it the first time while my friends who already had medical jobs didn't even pass it on the second time and just gave up. They still had a job and all I have is that stupid A. I don't have any on the job training and have tried the project xternship program and have gotten nowhere. I also want to know from all the hiring managers how I am supposed to get a job, any medical job coding or not, if no one will give me a chance. When I talked to the AAPC about doing the exam to get my A off, they said that I could but truthfully employers don't look at that as field work it is still just book work!

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