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

  1. #21
    Medical Coding Books
    I agree with you it is frustrating. I too am a CPC-A and have been for 4 years. No one will hire me without experience as well! Last year I had 5 different interviews and didn't get a job. This is my last year to try and the last year I will pay the 125 dollars! I paid all this money into this academy and the test fee to have to put more money to drop my A or lose my certificationl; is BS!! I think it says a lot if you pass the test without experience! The AAPC should offer a cheaper online class to take or exam should be free!
    Excuse me but how can you code from op scenarios without experience to know what codes to pull if it isn't multiple choice?

  2. Exclamation Fighting for futures
    OOOO MY GOD!!! So what do I do now? I'm one of the thousands CPC-A's that this decision will affect. I sat and passed the exam a year ago October; spent 1 year in the class room and the 2nd year just studying the coding books, page-by-page, line-by-line; took free on-line anatomy classes and every practice test I could find; now you're telling me all of my efforts may have been for not!!! There is no way that I can afford the expense of taking yet another exam. When you're living on $400 a month, it is hard enough keeping up with the yearly AAPC Membership costs, the cost of the chapter meetings, and the CEU's.

    I have been hunting for a medical coding job every day for the past 14 months, sending out hundreds of resumes and made just as many cold calls, resulting in only 1 interview. The only company in 14 months, that was looking for newly accredited medical coders. I was told I was in the running for a job, but then the company decided to “reorganize”; what does that mean? So I keep looking. There is nothing out there if you don't have at least 3 to 5-5 to 7 years of experience (yes, I've even applied for those jobs too).

    This is nothing more than another excuse to squeeze us for yet one more fee. How will this AAPC's new Clinical Exam, help us obtain jobs? It won't. At present the A is removed after completing 1 to 2 years of on-the-job experience; employers still request 3 to 5 - 5 to 7 years of actual on-the-job experience. So whether or not, you have an A at the end of your credentials changes nothing. Let the employers decide for themselves. With the economy in a depression/recession (whatever the politicians and economist are calling it this week, it's bad), why does it seem like we're being penalized when the hospitals, clinics, doctor offices (I've even tried senior living facilities) that no one is hiring??? . Don't hinder me anymore than I've already have been by this economy.

    Now AAPC said SORRY and wants to wipe away my last 3 years because of 1 letter!!! It's not fair, it's not right, to all of the CPC-A's, like myself, who have been struggling, barely keeping our head above the flood waters. We've paid for classes and studied, we've paid and sat for the exam, and we've paid our yearly AAPC membership dues, and paid for chapter meetings. We've done everything that was asked of us, and more. SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If others are similar to me, we have sacrificed years of family time, knowing doing this will better ourselves and our families; so we thought. THIS IS VERY FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The NAB and the AAPC are changing the rules after the game has been played and we've gone home – now they want a do over. It's not fair; we've played your game, by your rules and won; now let us move on to the next challenge, without hindering us further. Our credentials matters (I worked very hard for that CPC); the apprentice (A) may be out dated or obsolete, but we have more than earned that CPC after our names. I demand on behalf of the thousands of current CPC-A's that we are grandfathered into the CPC credentials. Let our resumes speak for themselves, and let the employers decide.

    If the objective of the apprentice (A) was to show prospective employers – an individual had passed the CPC exam. Why not, then, grandfather the CPC-A's into CPC's? We've passed our CPC exam, that fact hasn't changed, (or is the NAB & the AAPC now saying otherwise). Like it states in the AAPC's own Coding Edge article, our resumes will indicate our experience level and speak for itself. To eliminate our credentials because a group of people, sitting behind desks, who are not out in this economy job hunting, have decided our credentials are obsolete, and believes 1 letter at the end of our credentials has out lived its usefulness …. Is to discredit my time, (I've never worked harder for anything), and will now be meaningless; it is disrespectful of our commitment to try to better ourselves and our families futures.


    P.S. And Pam Brooks, I'm sure that when you were a new CPC (with or without the A), someone had to sit and endlessly train you, also. I only pray that someday I might have the same privilege.

  3. #23
    Tacoma, WA
    Wow....I think the folks with CPC-A need to take a step back and breath. Realize, you are not required to take the new test. You can choose to keep the "A" part of the credential and continue to work towards getting experience to have the A dropped. This was just a way of removing the one thing AAPC keeps hearing is a stigma that is hindering coders looking for jobs. It was a way to give you an opportunity to take a test that is more "real world" than the multiple choice CPC exam and show how good your skills really are.

    Also, AAPC asked for input. Please email your concerns to your National Advisory Board representative or to Reed Pew. If there is a consensus among the people with CPC-A that this is not a good alternative, then they will go back to the drawing board.

    I have a beloved former supervisor that taught me something I will never forget, "don't bring me a problem without also bringing a solution". So everyone who is upset over this proposal needs to start thinking about viable solutions to the problem and send your solutions to AAPC.
    Arlene J. Smith, CPC, CPMA, CEMC, COBGC

  4. #24
    I will express my concerns to the board thank you! I realize we don't have to take the test however they are trying to put a deadline on when we must have 1yr of experience. In this economy and state I live I may not have the 1 yr experience by 2013; for Gods sake it has all ready been 4 yrs! How much more waiting and patience can we take.

  5. #25
    Tacoma Washington Chapter
    I would have to say that I agree with most of what has been posted here. I was glad when I saw that someone actually started this post.

    There is also a link in the article posted in the January 2012 Coding Edge to leave your comments. I would urge all the CPC-A's to let AAPC know your concerns. I feel that if they want to change the system then it should be started from the date they have stated in the article of July1 2012 and it should affect any new coder not be retroactive back to us coders that have already taken the steps to obtain our CPC-A certification. We should be allowed to go by the requirements that were in place when we were certified.

    As one person mentioned in a previous post when she obtained her RN degree and took her boards she did not have the scarlet letter A behind her RN credentials. When I graduated from dental hygiene school and then passed my Washington and Oregon board I was considered a RDH (registered dental hygienist) and not a RDH-A. And hygienists are actually working on live people. I have taken many dental hygiene state boards and can say that the CPC certification test was the most intense test I have ever taken.

    Also if CPC-A's do decide to take the 20 question clinical exam and pass it what good is it to then be CPC without the 1-2 years experience that most employers require for a coding job?

    Maybe the AAPC should have made it so that you would need at least 1 year of experience before signing up for the CPC exam but to change the rules on CPC-A after the fact and affect them is crazy. It is bad enough in this economy to find a job and now they are adding another test.

    And what if one decides not to take the extra exam and doesn't get a job and have the 1 year experience by Dec 31 2013 is their CPC-A credential just going to be dropped where they will not have any credentials and then all the studying and money they spent for schooling, coding books, the exam, CE's and membership all for nothing?

    Sharyl Leingang BS RDH CPC-A
    Washington State

  6. Default
    As a practicing R.N. for 30 years, I was able to get the "A" removed from my CPC because of my ICD-9 experience, which I did for Medicaid enrollments under the community-based care EDCD waiver. 18 months later, I still am unable to land any coding position because I lack 'real' coding experience; that is, I have not done any CPT coding. The presence or absence of the "A" is not the determining factor for landing a coding job - it's whether or not you have done actual coding (both ICD-9 and CPT).

  7. #27
    Tacoma Washington Chapter
    Quote Originally Posted by bettinadodd View Post
    As a practicing R.N. for 30 years, I was able to get the "A" removed from my CPC because of my ICD-9 experience, which I did for Medicaid enrollments under the community-based care EDCD waiver. 18 months later, I still am unable to land any coding position because I lack 'real' coding experience; that is, I have not done any CPT coding. The presence or absence of the "A" is not the determining factor for landing a coding job - it's whether or not you have done actual coding (both ICD-9 and CPT).
    Exactly! It is all about having the experience!

  8. #28
    I've been following a few threads regarding this issue I have to say that I haven't received my Coding Edge at home as of yet to read the article in question.

    I think if AAPC is going to " do away with the A" then maybe as some posters have already mentioned ( maybe not in this particular thread but in another) that the actual CPC exam should have less multiple choice questions and force the examinee's to provide the cpt, icd or hcpcs codes for the scenario's. That would actually prove that someone does "know how to code" without using the process of elimination for 4 answers.

    I also agree with the RN who said she doesn't have the "scarlet letter A" behind her degree. Most employers will test a coder prior to offering a position anyway. I've heard it said before that some of us who've been coding for years w/o credentials sometimes are better coders that ones who have the credential behind them and that, in my opinion comes down to someone who is not certified but has been doing the same work as someone who is certified.... boils down to alot of what people have been saying... "Experience is the best teacher". Having that hands on experience makes a world of difference (again, my opinion).

    My heart goes out to the newbie's with the A behind their credentials.

    I can honestly say that when I first started off after received my credentials I applied for jobs regardless if the advertisement said must have 2-3 years experience or not, you never know if you happen to get an interview even though you don't have the years of experience required and you can prove that you know how to code real op cases/ notes etc.... that speaks volumes ( in my opinion) than if you've been certified for 10 years or 1 year.

    It took me 5 years after achieving my CPC credentials to land a true " coding position". And I can honestly say now ( back then no) that I am glad I wasn't offered any of those jobs I applied for because I now know that I really did need the hands on experience that I received being in the billing dept, billing supervisor etc... has made me a better coder in the longrun....

    Best of luck to you all...
    Last edited by rthames052006; 03-06-2012 at 01:22 PM. Reason: spelling errors...
    Roxanne Thames CPC, CPC-I, CEMC

    "Remember the greatest gift is not found in the store but in the heart of true friends"

  9. #29
    Hartford, CT
    Quote Originally Posted by halld1 View Post

    So much red tape to remove an initial that means nothing (other than hendering your job search) and for what? A job paying $14.00 - $20.00 hr.
    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.
    Last edited by dclark7; 01-05-2012 at 07:25 AM.

  10. #30
    Ellenville, New York
    Default Do I dare say this?
    I know in some circles that "other" organization is a terrible thing to mention, but the AHIMA coding tests do have the format some are suggesting - both multiple choice (primarily for items like coding principles, etc) and coding questions where the code must be filled in, not multiple choice. Several other posters have made that suggestion for the CPC exam, and I say bravo, that is a good compromise between status quo and this change requiring a second test.

    As for the experience, something again I will take from that "other" place is that they strongly SUGGEST, but don't require, 3 years of coding experience before taking the test. I followed that advice, and it was very beneficial for both the test and the future job prospects. Yes, I was luckier than most because I got my experience because the place where I interned (in HIM work that was not coding) liked that work, asked me if I would be a per-diem coder and did that for 4 years.

    Finally, before anyone asks if that other place is so great, why am I here, I will state that AAPC is the best organization for coding materials, references, feedback and information. Discussions like this is precisely why I wanted to be part of this family as well. I discovered that long after getting into this business, but better late than never, obtained a specialty credential that is related to my current position, and will utilize AAPC benefits in the same way I have for AHIMA for years. A professional organization is only as good as the members and how the members take advantage of the opportunities is the way to advance not only the goals of the orgainzation, but also enhance the careers of the members.

    Okay, off the soap box for now.


    Director, Health Information Management
    HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley
    Kingston, NY

    2016 Secretary
    Ellenville, NY Local Chapter

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    Last Post: 01-17-2012, 08:08 AM
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