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

  1. #121


    AAPC: Back to School
    Quote Originally Posted by dclark7 View Post
    Ok, for all of you new coders who believed the hype that you can make over $40,000/yr AND/OR work from home. YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE YOUR HOMEWORK!!! If you check out the AAPC salary survey from 2010 which is when they broke it down by years of experience you'll see that most people with one year were making $16.61/hr, coders didn't get to over $20 until they had 10 years of experience ($21.96). So....if you who don't have any experience are not willing to accept jobs that are paying "$14-$20"/hr then you have no reason to complain. If you actually read the salary survey report you'll find that the people making the most money are usually self employed, are consultants or are in managment positions.

    Every post from experienced coders have adivsed the newbies to take any job they can get. Yes jobs are hard to come by and if you take the front desk position you're NOT going to make $20/hr but you will be getting experience in the medical field and if you prove that you want to learn most employers will give you a chance. However, if you go into an interview expecting that because you went to school and passed a multiple choice test they're going to look at you like you're the answer to they're prayers you are sadly mistaken. Everyone has to start somewhere and most people are NOT going to start at the top. So lower your expectations and get some experience.
    Wow! Who said they weren't willing to take whatever job they can get? Who said they expect to make $40k a year? That's not what I've been reading here. I've been reading that people are afraid - afraid that they won't find a job that will give them the experience they need in the time-frame that the AAPC is proposing. I hear fear. And not a lot of empathy from many CPC's posting here.

    One of the smartest posts I've read here is from ljohnson980, at 1-5-2012 11:54AM. It's worth reading if you haven't. She holds several CPC certifications.

    "If I am lucky enough to gain employment, remember NO one wants to hire a CPC-Apprentice I will probably spend the year entering the same five codes listed on the superbill. My “A” is removed but I am less of a coder at the end of that year than when I passed the CPC exam."

    How many CPC's code the same codes day in and day out? How many of them were given full CPC certification when they completed the test, just because they were able to get the requisite letters from their employeers validating their experience, when, in fact, they don't do much coding at all? The same could be said for the CPC's who were required to have those letters before they could sit for the test.

    From what I understand, even the externships are questionable. One person can code for eight hours a day for three months and another for 4 hours a day for three months and they both get credit for three months of coding experience. It's whatever the employer chooses to do.

    Maybe it's just time to level the playing field.

    Also from ljohnson980, at 1-5-2012 11:54AM (someone who is obviously not threatened by the idea of giving CPC-A's their full certification):

    "I would drop the A designation right away for anyone who has passed the CPC exam and move to a graduated certification method."

    THAT sounds like the best idea I've heard from anyone!

  2. #122
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Fayetteville, NC


    Entirely true kevbshields. I live in a small mostly rural area and the physician practices here are small. Many tend to hire experience over certification.
    I was very lucky in that the office I work for wanted a certified coder and did not mind hiring someone with no real world experience. The previous coder was not certified (which is why the office was set on hiring certified) and it showed in the mounds of denials that was next to the mountains of uncoded charts in the office I was shown to. I was completely unprepared for dealing with the insurance world and could not understand some of the denials. I know I would have greatly appreciated a crash course in things like LCDs/NCDs, CCI Edits, Medicare guidelines, and the like.
    I think it would add more prestige to the AAPC and the CPC itself if some of those things were added to the course and test. Newly "minted" CPCs would be a little more marketable than they are now and even better prepared than they currently are. But of course that is just my opinion
    A. McCormick, CPC, CGSC
    Walters Surgical Associates

  3. #123


    Quote Originally Posted by karnmadding View Post
    They are NOT discontinuing the Virtual Experience . I just finshed beta testing. The Virtual Experience can be done in your home at your own pace. 800 questions is a lot but I think the 20 being proposed in the Elimination of the A Designation is too few. Having done the beta for Virtual passing 20 qestions at 90% is going to be almost impossible. I think they should compromise between 20 and 800 questions and lower the price of Virtual and keep it.
    Has everyone forgotten about the testing we are going to have to do to KEEP certification after ICD-10 Its not going to do you an good to get the "A" removed in 2012 if you loose the entire cerification a few years later now is it.
    I spoke with the AAPC about the Virtual Experience and was told that they were discontinuing it indefinitely, (it's no longer on the website) because there were too many problems with it.

    Also, I don't know how they could possibly add more than 20 notes to the exam they are proposing. They will be allowing the same amount of time as they do for the CPC exam - five hours and 40 (?) minutes. Can't imagine many people being willing to sit for an exam that's more than six hours long.

  4. #124

    Default Upset with the removal of A proposal from the AAP. One test like the CPC exam enough

    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!!
    I agree!
    One exam like the CPC exam is more than enough!!!
    We need a job to get experience!

  5. #125

    Default Removal of A

    I think the AAPC needs the leave things the way they were before this proposal.

    Passing the CPC exam is more than ENOUGH!!!

    I do NOT want to take another test and pay for another test!!

  6. #126


    Quote Originally Posted by Pam Brooks View Post

    Although the CPC exam is challenging, it's not an absolute indicator of coding competency, and elevating the difficulty of the CPC examination will only improve the integrity of the certification. The apprentice certification, in my mind, was well-intentioned, but generated a huge glut of inexperienced (and unemployed) would-be coders, regardless of their abilities and willingness to work. I'm glad that the AAPC has recognized this, and is moving towards re-recognizing that we are setting a higher standard.

    I'll never forget the words of one of my staff members, who was struggling early on to grasp the coding concepts in my department. He said, "I passed the CPC examination, but I had no idea that it would mean that I wouldn't just be able to sit down and do this work. There's a h$ll of a lot more to this coding stuff than just passing an exam".
    Pam, you're assuming that everyone who took the CPC exam, before the AAPC added the apprentice designation somehow had more knowledge and experience. How can that be true? Some, to be sure, but, certainly, not all. The only requirement before was experience, but that could have meant sitting in a job coding the same codes day in and day out. And if you've read any of the comments here, you'd know that many people who have lots of experience coding have failed the exam!!!!!!

    Also, you seem to be under the impression that the test for CPC-A's is somehow different from the test for CPC's. Well, it's not. We all took the same test.

    Absolutely "elevate the difficulty of the CPC exam" and make everyone re-test. That would be leveling the playing field. And you'd certainly weed-out the "huge glut of inexperienced (and unemployed) would-be coders."

  7. #127


    Quote Originally Posted by machshaffer@aol.com View Post
    Although I am an apprentice, I am well aware of the fact that the CPC exam is multiple choice, and in the real world there are no multiple choices. A coder DOES need to be able to read a note and pull the appropriate codes for the procedures and/or diagnoses, and that truely IS a good measure of the ability the coder has. That is why I strongly suggest that the AAPC really take a look at continuing to offer the Apprentice Program, wether it be an online or on site program, I feel that is a great way to get the "new" coders the experience and/or education that is needed in order to be a successful coder. Since there are not many providers that have the time, or the finances to train "on the job", it seems to me that someone appointed by the AAPC should lead an apprentice program (like the online program), to work with the new coders, and mentor them on the issues in a real world situation. I would rather pay for an apprentice program that's going to give me the "real world" information needed to be a certified coder, than pay for yet another test that is timed, and does NOT offer any feedback on why a code would NOT be correct, and WOULD get denied in an actual coding setting.

    I am speaking from actually having attempted the on-line prgram. Although it had some bugs that needed worked out, I feel it was quite challenging and offered a very real picture of what it is truely like to be in a coding position. The program consisted of 800 doctor's notes, from EVERY specialty. It is alot of hard work, but I felt that it really showed how the real world looks and what is expected of the coder. I REALLY hope that the program will become available again soon, with the bugs worked out, because I think the program, along with a mentor to guide the coder, will make the "new" coder much more successful in understanding the field. I also feel that it will better prepare them for the challenges they will face, and how to do research in order to figure out what the proper codes may be.

    One more thing about the CPC test....It is a very hard test and I don't think the fact that it IS extremely challenging should be dissmissed. But I do feel that there should be some actual, fill-in-the-blank notes included in the future. But the amount of time to complete it may need to be increased...just a thought.
    What nobody seems to be addressing is the fact that the majority of coders out there do not code from EVERY specialty. My guess is that if you had every CPC (not CPC-A) have to code those 800 notes, they wouldn't succeed with the accuracy the AAPC requires. It's very unfair to expect CPC-A's to be able to do that.

    I inquired about it because I felt I'd gain valuable experience. And certainly more experience than many CPC's.

  8. #128

    Default Removal of A

    If someone passes the bar exam that's it they are a lawyer. Yes they have to participate in continuing education but as long as they do that they are still a lawyer. If someone has passed the CPC exam then they should be considered a medical coder and as long as they fulfill their required continuing education obligations they should always be considered a qualified medical coder. Nobody has to hire them but their certification should not be taken away. As far as the A designation is concerned it should just be dropped. If the AAPC wants to change the test that is fine but anyone who has already passed it should not be required to do anything more at this point other than do their necessary CU units.
    As far as finding work goes some people will get lucky and find a good jobs as coders while others will struggle. Those struggling should just try and get any job in the medical field and hope for the best. There are too many CPC-A’s (and CPC’s for that matter) for the economy to accommodate. What can be done about this? Really nothing except wait for the economy to improve and let market forces work to bring supply and demand back into equilibrium. Some many never find work as coders but hopefully their education/knowledge/certification will enable them to at least find some sort of employment in the medical field.

  9. #129
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    New Haven, CT

    Default I think it is just making it harder for people to be certified or experienced...

    We all took the multiple choice test. I don't believe that suddenly having a NON multiple choice test is going to change anything. Having an entry level job that has office based coding would be experience enough to remove the stigma of the A. Hopefully that will happen for me, since I am going for a lab billing/coding job right now.

    I don't feel that those of us with the A should be just forgotten about, because the AAPC wants to make a change. The 20 question exam wouldn't do much good either.

    Just my input.
    Meegan Sweeney, CPC-A

  10. #130
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Nashville, TN


    Quote Originally Posted by ghpkmp View Post
    I spoke with the AAPC about the Virtual Experience and was told that they were discontinuing it indefinitely, (it's no longer on the website) because there were too many problems with it.

    Also, I don't know how they could possibly add more than 20 notes to the exam they are proposing. They will be allowing the same amount of time as they do for the CPC exam - five hours and 40 (?) minutes. Can't imagine many people being willing to sit for an exam that's more than six hours long.
    Okay, the 'Virtual Experience 800 Note' was for betatesting last year, and now AAPC has currently put in on hold because they realize there are too many problems with it.

    So...what does that mean for all those who signed up for it and coded the notes, whether they completed them or not before it was shut down? Is all the hard work and effort and many hours they put into this beta program going to even be recognized (at least as partial experience) by the AAPC, or are they just going to get a refund and nothing else?

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