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

  1. Default
    Medical Coding Books
    I so agree, I was not trained in school on how to code clinical notes. I have the AAPC workbook, which I haven't gone through yet because I didn't need to to get my CPC certification. However, I would like to see the schools add some "real" training to the curriculum. I also agree that on-the-job training would be best, but if we can't get hired even with certification without two years of experience, where are we going to get that experience? You say to work in the field for two years before getting the certification. You'd have to change how hospitals want their coders -- everyone in this area that still hires "newbies" wants some experience, and if they hire you without a certification, you get sixth months to get that certification.

  2. Smile
    Most of the coders I have talked to do not even have any coding education much less a certification of any kind. They are being hired as a general employee in a physician's office as a front desk receiptionist and being moved along as they learn the ropes. So, I would suggest that we all try to begin wherever we can get our foot in the door. The thing is they are not being paid what a CPC should be paid either. So, we may even have to accept a lesser salary as well.

    Another issue with that may be the office is not being reimbursed as they should be, but I suppose you get what you pay for.

    Good Luck to everyone and keep searching.

  3. #103
    Default
    Due to the mandate of medical records becoming digitized by 2014 and the increased usage of automated medical coding software, it seems the administrative healthcare employment demand might soon be in RHIA and RHIT? This link is from the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. This mentions coding, but there seems to be heavier emphasis on RHIT. I only pasted parts of what the web page says.

    http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos103.htm

    Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition

    Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

    Significant Points
    Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average.
    Job prospects should be very good, particularly for technicians with strong computer software skills.
    Entrants usually have an associate degree.
    This is one of the few health-related occupations in which there is no direct hands-on patient care.

    Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
    Entry-level medical records and health information technicians usually have an associate degree. Many employers favor technicians who have a Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) credential.

    Education and training. Medical records and health information technicians generally have an associate degree. Typical coursework in health information technology includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, health data requirements and standards, clinical classification and coding systems, data analysis, healthcare reimbursement methods, database security and management, and quality improvement methods. Applicants can improve their chances of admission into a postsecondary program by taking biology, math, chemistry, health, and computer science courses in high school.

    Certification and other qualifications
    Most employers prefer to hire credentialed medical record and health information technicians. A number of organizations offer credentials typically based on passing a credentialing exam. Most credentialing programs require regular recertification and continuing education to maintain the credential. Many coding credentials require an amount of time in coding experience in the work setting.

    The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers credentialing as a Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT). To obtain the RHIT credential, an individual must graduate from a 2-year associate degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and pass an AHIMA-administered written examination. In 2008, there were more than 200 CAHIIM-accredited health information technology colleges and universities programs.

    The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers coding credentials. The Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and Professional Association of Health care Coding Specialists (PAHCS) both offer credentialing in specialty coding. The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) offers a credential as a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR). To learn more about the credentials available and their specific requirements, contact the credentialing organization.

    Health information technicians and coders should possess good oral and written communication skills as they often serve as liaisons between healthcare facilities, insurance companies, and other establishments. Candidates proficient with computer software and technology will be appealing to employers as healthcare facilities continue to adopt electronic health records. Medical records and health information technicians should enjoy learning, as continuing education is important in the occupation.

    Job Outlook
    Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average. Job prospects should be very good; technicians with a strong understanding of technology and computer software will be in particularly high demand.

    Employment change
    Employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by 20 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Employment growth will result from the increase in the number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that will be performed. As the population continues to age, the occurrence of health-related problems will increase. Cancer registrars should experience job growth as the incidence of cancer increases from an aging population.

    In addition, with the increasing use of electronic health records, more technicians will be needed to complete the new responsibilities associated with electronic data management.

    Job prospects. Job prospects should be very good. In addition to job growth, numerous openings will result from the need to replace medical record and health information technicians who retire or leave the occupation permanently.

  4. #104
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    1,101
    Default
    All of the demand issues depend on the following:
    * Setting
    * Desired position
    * Geographic location
    * Specialty
    * Organizational missions/initiatives

    Please keep in mind that RHITs must now compete with folks who've completed the HITECH trainings related to electronic record training, process improvement and clinical leadership. Although I do not have reports on how well employers are accepting that training or seeking those candidates, it is clear that employers are sending in-house employees to be trained and educated in this area.

    All along I have suggested for Coders in small to medium sized practices to seek some of this HITECH training so they can grow into leadership positions for transition. Additionally, all the training in implementation and training for EHR does not replace the knowledge or skill base of a certified coder, especially when we look at adopting new practice management tools and revenue cycle processes.

  5. Default Cpc-a
    I also live in the Wilimington, NC area and attend AAPC chapter meetings on a regular basis. I am in agreement with everything you are saying. The CPC exam was absolutely the hardest test that I have ever taken, and I was extremely relived when I learned that I had passed. However, the euphoria has now worn off, and the reality of the situation has set in. And it is not a pretty picture.

    When I attend the chapter meetings, I see a room full of well-intentioned, frustrated and unemployed people at a loss as to what they should do. Unfortunately, I believe that a lot of people who have already paid a substantial amount of money for education, joining AAPC and taking the CPC exam are now going to dole out more funds to take yet another ardous exam as they feel like they have no choice if they hope to become gainfully employeed only to be still left in the catch 22 position of no experience, no job.

    I was really excited about this aspect of the medical profession, and I was looking forward to being a part of something that offered career opportunities as well as professional comradery. In retrospect, perhaps these expectations were too high, and I know that the employment opportunities in this area are not that great. I have not given up all hope, but I am definetly brainstorming to try and come up with ideas that I can propose at the next chapter meeting. Thanks to all who have responded. It has been uplifting to realize that we are not in this quandry alone.


    Quote Originally Posted by lorig View Post
    I have to agree with you. I have worked in the medical field in various capacities for the last 20+ years. I was offered an opportunity to participate in a class that was given to several employees in a local billing office by a certified instructor. Although not a formal class, I participated for over a half a year, attended all but one of the weekly classes and did all of the required work. I am proud to say that I passed the CPC exam on my first try, and, I was the only one of eight students who passed on the first try. The test was grueling, both mentally and physically.
    I now feel that my efforts may have been wasted since my passing that test will basically mean nothing unless I take and pass the new test. I don't feel it's fair that I will have to sit for another 5 1/2 hour exam, which is what I will be required to do given the nature of job openings for coders in my town. Most practices here don't even hire certified coders. The few that do, require 5 years experience. Extern programs are all but non-existent. The ones I checked on require that an extern work during the day. Unfortunately, I have to work at my full-time job in order to pay my bills so this would be impossible. In addition, even if I pass the add-on exam, it will still not give me the coding 'experience' that is required to get a job. I don't see how this is helping apprentices at all. It appears to me that only the AAPC stands to gain since apprenticies will be required to pay additional money to take another exam.
    While I'm at it, I will also say that I know of serveral 'certified' coders who do not have the required experience, but still their employers were willing to write letters for them so they didn't have to have the "A". If this "A" is so important that maybe ALL coders need to take both exams so that it will be a level playing field.
    I will carefully consider what to do since this will now become an issue for me and I'm sure for so many others. I will also make sure to bring this up at my local chapter meeting, which I attend faithfully.
    Thanks so much for making my day!

  6. Default
    I also live in the Wilimington, NC area and attend AAPC chapter meetings on a regular basis. I am in agreement with everything you are saying. The CPC exam was absolutely the hardest test that I have ever taken, and I was extremely relived when I learned that I had passed. However, the euphoria has now worn off, and the reality of the situation has set in. And it is not a pretty picture.

    When I attend the chapter meetings, I see a room full of well-intentioned, frustrated and unemployed people at a loss as to what they should do. Unfortunately, I believe that a lot of people who have already paid a substantial amount of money for education, joining AAPC and taking the CPC exam are now going to dole out more funds to take yet another ardous exam as they feel like they have no choice if they hope to become gainfully employeed only to be still left in the catch 22 position of no experience, no job.

    I was really excited about this aspect of the medical profession, and I was looking forward to being a part of something that offered career opportunities as well as professional comradery. In retrospect, perhaps these expectations were too high, and I know that the employment opportunities in this area are not that great. I have not given up all hope, but I am definetly brainstorming to try and come up with ideas that I can propose at the next chapter meeting. Thanks to all who have responded. It has been uplifting to realize that we are not in this quandry alone.

  7. #107
    Location
    Jacksonville Florida Chapter
    Posts
    205
    Default A black belt is a white belt that never gave up
    Quote Originally Posted by hnriddle View Post
    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!
    I'm not a manager of any kind. I'm just a CPC-A like yourself. Just like you, I couldn't find a job in billing or coding and for the same reason you can't. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA in billing and coding. I even got my CPC-A a few weeks after finishing school the first time up with an 88%. Even with all that, I couldn't get a job in billing and coding because of my severe lack of practical experience.

    So I took a job in reception as a way to break into billing and coding. I think this is the only way most of us will be able to get into billing and coding. I've got a few friends that were able to get right into billing and coding, but that's because one was lucky enough to extern for a billing company looking for some new employees. She was able to get a job for some of our other friends.

    I think the thing really is that most places want us to "grow" into billing and coding. What we are taught in school really is just the basics of billing and coding. I'm learning so much more than I did in school as a receptionist. There are so many goofy rules with the different insurance companies, it gives me a headache just thinking about them.

    I will also say that if you are given an interview... make sure to tell them that you are a CPC-A and that you want to eventually get into billing and coding after having some real experience in whatever position they are interviewing you for. I think this is what put me over the edge and into my job.

    At any rate.... I wish you the best of luck if you want to continue your search for a billing/coding job.
    John Meyer, CPC
    Heekin Clinic

  8. Smile Cpc-a
    This was my comment to aapc.com/cpc-acomment...
    I have a CPC-A.
    I agree that the A should be eliminated. The resume speaks for itself.
    We should not be required to take a clinical exam of coding 20 operative/office notes, because there was not enough emphasis at my Community College to do this (it was not part of the curriculum). So therefore we should be grandfathered in. Moving forward there is a great need to communicate better with the College's. There should be a free pre-req. class explaining all that is required to obtain your CPC credential. 1. A person should already have work experience (unless see below my #4 comment if that was enacted - then you would not need the emphasis on already having work experience). 2. The complete cost and requirements (including joining AAPC to see your results). 3. I have heard good things about the Virtual Experience and perhaps AAPC could incorporate that with the Community College curriculum. That way you would be trained better for the clinical exam. 4. There are presently government grants available for people to start business's that can employee lots of people. With 30,000 CPC-A's out there trying to find work this would be a great area to obtain that grant. Schools, AAPC, Physicians and Hospitals need to work together to have a apprentice program that works to help us CPC-A's learn and accomplish the real world work of coding. (A little bit like the program they have for a dentist - where people can go have dental work done by the medical school students). The schools could set up special secure classrooms where CPC-A's can do real practical work (that a courier has brought in) like a clearinghouse. This would be a win-win situation. Work is done and students learn and get practical experience. Thank you for allowing my comments. Also, perhaps you might consider a "Chapter Meeting" round table discussion on this issue.

  9. #109
    Default
    I am really upset about the fact that I probably will never have the -A removed from my CPC. I worked hard to pass the exam after taking an online course with UMA, an excellent school. In addition, I have years of medical work experience, although not in coding. I have taken a job working with Medicaid. However, I will not be able to uitlize my coding skills. It is very unfortunate that obtaining just one more year of working with codes is so hard to come by. I am in my 50's and I believe the job I have now is where I will stay and the company will be fortunate to have me. The ones that will be unfortunate are the ones that did not give me the chance to obtain that one year of working with medical codes. And this is America?

  10. #110
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Posts
    38
    Default
    I have mixed feelings about this change. On the one hand, I know that for those newly certified coders with no previous medical experience the A is like a scarlet letter, as pamps76 stated, and it puts potential employers in a frame of mind to expect the worst. On the other hand, I have tutored several people who failed the exam only to discover that they didn't have much beyond the most basic knowledge when they finally did pass. Those people were smart and worked hard, they just hadn't had enough exposure. There are so many things you won't learn until you are "in the field", things like revenue codes and condition codes and all of the other items that cross over from coding to billing. But NO ONE is going to know it all. So, I think the certification either has to be reworked, as ollielooya (love it!) suggested, or we have to just accept that the CPC is entry level and then experience adds to your "hire-ability".

    As for me, I had been doing specialty coding while working clinically and finally got my CPC because I kept running into conflicts with the hospital's coders that I couldn't resolve, and I needed to know how they thought and why our communication left us both frustrated. The credential helped them to see me as someone who might know what I was doing, and I learned how to show them my side of the story in language they could relate to. I was luckier than w_burns in that my boss and our doctor's practice manager, a CPC herself, wrote my letters so I never had to wear the dreaded "A". But even after 8 years of doing the specialty coding and 20+ years of clinical background I am still learning new things so in some ways I will always be an apprentice.

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