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

  1. #51
    Location
    Everett, WA
    Posts
    886
    Default an encouraging thread in the midst of it all
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    Robin, thanks for posting this day-brightener to many CPA-s who may be following this thread. Not only that, but would have loved to see the look on her face as well. Who knows? Perhaps this same employee is numbered amongst us who read the forums regularly! That must have given you immense satisfaction to bring tidings of good news!

    ---Suzanne E. Byrum CPC

  2. Default signature for CPC A removal.
    Quote Originally Posted by w_burns View Post
    I too am an "Apprentice", for sake of a better term. I graduated from a one year AAPC accredited school with coding occurring throughout the course of the class. I have been with a billing and coding company for 21 months, of which, 14 of them have been in the coding department. My supervisor will not approve a letter from corporate for me, beacuse I do not code 'all' of the types of ASC cases that we code for.
    I was trained on how to properly look for and code for ANY type scenerio. I have a "A" hanging over my head, and with the limited range of coding that I am doing, I am not certain that my employer would give me a good reccomendation should I choose to apply elsewhere as a coder. It is frustrating to have to jump through so many hoops, when dependant upon your state, the carrier, and the contract, coding will NEVER be the same from one local to the next. That is why we must continue with our CEU's and the "A" should not exist.
    I understand if your employer places restraints on your coding until such a time that he/she feels confident with your abilities as a coder, but what employer doesn't do that anyway, no matter what job your have? And I too have 25+ years experience in the healthcare field and found that this test was challening, but rewarding. I had one hour remaining when I completed my exam, and passed with an 83%, so WHY do I have to sit with an "A", when I can obviously code?
    I work with two coders whom I encouraged to join the AAPC and take the CPC exam. I'm just their cowoeker and I wrote both their letters to have the A taken off their credentials. You do not necessary need it to come from your boss. As for college coding, you can get your teacher to write a letter explaining what you have been doing for the time you were in school. It was not hard for me to get the A removed. I was lucky to have the letters from college and my current employer. I do understand that I'm lucky to be employeed and coding. Don't give up on your dreams.

  3. #53
    Talking We have the ability to affect the outcome!!!!
    Dear Coding Community and Fellow CPC-As,

    I have been following this thread daily with earnest interest. I actually read this thread before reading the article on page 7 in the January Coding Edge issue. If you haven't read the article for yourself, I highly recommend you read it in its entirety first. Quite a few things were said and I am a CPC-A that could be affected by the resulting changes of this proposal.

    After reading the article for myself, I discovered two things.

    1st)- The very fact the AAPC is taking steps to potentially help the current CPC-A situation shows that we are a part of a great organization who is concerned about its members. REALLY. They are not unaware of the trials we are facing as a CPC-As and are looking for a way to change it.

    2nd)- The very last paragraph of the article by Reed Pew states,
    “ As stated above, we would appreciate comments to this important change to our credentialing program THROUGH JAN. 31, 2012. You may go to www.aapc.com/cpc-acomment to submit your comment. From those comments we will either proceed ahead, make modifications that strengthen the change, or slow down the change due to legitimate concerns that AAPC has not properly considered. Your friend, Reed E. Pew”

    If that doesn't show we are part of a great organization, then I don't know what does. We have an opportunity to change the outcome of this proposal. It is not written in stone yet, it is written in pencil and open for modifications which is GREAT news to me. To all my CPC-As out there, we still have time to affect the outcome of this situation. We have until Jan 31, 2012 to submit legitimate concerns regarding this issue. We have the ability to make modifications, or slow down the change based on the feedback WE provide. Quite frankly, a lot of people have expressed legitimate concerns regarding this matter on this thread, but if they remain only on this thread, it will do no good in voicing your concerns.

    Today, it is January 8, 2012. We have until January 31, 2012 which is approximately 24 days from today. I encourage EVERYONE who has posted a comment regarding this issue on this thread to send your comment to the comment link. I encourage EVERYONE who has read this thread and thought about posting a comment on this thread will do so at the appropriate link BEFORE JANUARY 31, 2012. I definitely have a strong opinion on this matter, but will send it to the comment link because that is where it will count.

    I love the AAPC! I wouldn't trade my credentials for anything in the world because I worked my you know what off to get them! And I know I am not the only one who has made great sacrifices and invested a small fortune in obtaining and maintaining these precious credentials. I encourage every CPC-A to not throw that away and don't throw in the towel now. Especially since collectively WE have an opportunity to affect the outcome of this proposed change.

    Honk if you love the AAPC. HOOOOOOOOONK!! Thank you to Reed Pew for even allowing us an opportunity to voice our concerns and thank you for taking our feedback into consideration. Have a happy day everyone!


  4. Default
    I think there is something dishonest here. I have a bachelor's degree, and have worked in a hospital setting for over 20 years. I took the online CPC course, passed the CPC exam the first time but was not issued a completion certificate due to a " technicality" and now, 3 years later, am working 4 hours per week " coding" on a very limited basis because I am still an " apprentice." I am several thousand dollars " in the red" due to renewal fees for my " credential" , seminar fees, the cost of the course that I was never given credit for, plus books, etc. Now I have to come up with another $1000 for ICD-10 bootcamp plus new books, etc. I think if you already have a credential such as M.D., MBA, R.N. then the CPC is just the icing on the cake and you are given easier certification and rights to publishing articles in the Coding Edge or speaking at a seminar with an excellent salary. Otherwise, if you just want to advance your current position or even obtain a coding position, it is short of impossible. I am very disillusioned with the coding world. I initially wanted to make a difference and bring honesty and integrity into the coding profession. But it is virtually impossible to break into unless you already have a coding job and then go to get certified or you are already an R.N. or M.D. or have your MBA. I am just glad that I didn't resign from my current evening job as a transcriptionist because if I had resigned to obtain a coding position I would be jobless. This AAPC progran is very deceiving and I am looking to possibly file a complaint against this company. I think AAPC is very biased and not very fair. I am wondering if there is going to be an ICD-10-A after passing my exam which will be another "technicality" which will prevent me from qualifying me for a coding position. And by reading the other comments that other "apprentices" have posted, I am seriously considering "throwing in the towel." I hope that my opininion as well as the opinions of others are read and considered by the AAPC. I have spoken with several coders who are certified from several years back and they never had to obtain years of experience or obtain references or take additional exams. Once they passed the 5 1/2 hour coding exam, they were certified. Period. When did these "apprentice" requirements begin? I feel this is unfair and biased and it also provides extra income for AAPC looking at all of the apprentices in the publication of AAPC Coding Edge each month. I hope that these comments are read and considered.

    From CPC-A 01092997
    Last edited by shakira; 01-09-2012 at 07:27 AM.

  5. #55
    Location
    Hartford, CT
    Posts
    723
    Default
    I'm sorry you feel that the AAPC is unfair. However as for previous coders not having to have experience, you are wrong. When I became certified in 2000 you had to have two years of experience and two letters of recommendation before you could even take the CPC exam. When you took the exam you only had 5 hours (not the 5 hrs & 40 minutes that is now allowed), there were three separate sections and you had to have a grade of 70% on EACH section to pass. If you got below a 70 on even ONE section you failed the entire exam and had to retake it. There were no "schools" you could go to the courses were offered by AAPC (the PMCC) and coding was not really considered a "career choice". You were haned coding books and learned on the job.

    Prior to 1988 the AAPC didn't even exist, the only credentialing body was AHIIMA (they offered the RRA and ART credentials which now are called RHIA and RHIT) and you were required to go to an accredited school before you you could take their exams. AHIMA at that time was only for hospital based coders. If you read the history of AAPC they were founded in 1988 to promote professionalism among physician based coders. It has taken a long time for AAPc to gain the recognition it has. I remember in the early 90's asking the physician I worked for if I should become certified and her response was "why would anybody need a certified coder?"

    Fast forward to today, the AAPC and CPCs are now recognized as Professionals with high standards. Many of todays CPCs have been coding for a long time and we have worked hard to bring our profession to the spotlight. Employers want experienced coders because they know that we (whether we've chosen to become certified or not) have fought the good fight and we by necessity have kept up with ever changing rules and regulations. Are there older coders who don't really have a clue? Yes, just as in every profession you have some who do not keep up and some who don't really care as long they get a paycheck. But the majority of coders with experience have been where you are and started in the trenches. I started as a "float clerk" which means I did all the jobs know one else wanted to do. The biggest problem I've seen on this and other posts is that MANY (not all but many) new coders want to start with their dream job. The advise I see experienced coders giving over and over is to take any job you can, it could be front desk, it could be file clerk, it could be answering phones, take it, prove you want to work and learn and see what happens. The other thing I've seen on this post is that the 800 chart coding was taken down because of complaints that the records were to hard to code. What do you think the real world of coding is like? The answers are NOT given to you and sometimes you have to do a LOT of research and sometimes you even get it wrong and have to make corrections. So whoever was complaining about it being too hard didn't do anyone any favors. As far as ICD-10, we are all in the same boat with learning something new, I see it as an opportunity to enhance my skills and become more knowledgeable in my field. I actually fell into this field quite by accident, but I love what I do and I think that whatever AAPC has to do to keep the integrity of our credentials high then they should do it.

    The last thing I would like to say is this, AAPC has grown from under 80,000 member a couple of years ago to over 111,000 now. While growth is good, does anyone really think that over 31,000 new jobs have been created in this field during this time? The answer is a resounding NO! Hospital and practices have closed and companies have downsized and merged so there are actually fewer jobs available now.

    Doreen Clark, CPC, CPMA
    Last edited by dclark7; 01-09-2012 at 08:23 AM. Reason: spelling

  6. #56
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by rzink View Post
    I had the great privilege yesterday of calling a CPC-A into my office and watching the excitement on her face as I offered her a coding position. I hired this person only one month ago into an entry level position which she was eager to accept. After only a few weeks of recognizing her positive attitude, eagerness to learn, dependability and work ethic, I was thrilled to be able to place her into the position she had hoped she would eventually move into. I will reiterate what so many have said in this thread. Keep a positive attitude, be willing to accept an entry level position and then show your employer you possess all of the above mentioned traits. All of the "seasoned" coders can repeat stories of starting at the bottom up. And we will all tell you that no matter how many years of experience we have, we continue to be challenged and to learn on a daily basis. The AAPC certainly has the best interest of its members at heart. We all need to remember that they have the incredible responsibility of maintaining the integrity of our professional organization so our credentials continue to be worth all the effort each of us put into obtaining them.

    Way to go Robin!!!! It's very refreshing to hear these types of stories and it just goes to show, it is possible....
    Roxanne Thames CPC, CPC-I, CEMC
    rthamescpci@gmail.com


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

  7. #57
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    534
    Default
    Well stated Doreen.

    Obviously the stress and frustration of finding a job in this horrible job-loss economy is taking a toll.

    From my perspective (and in my opinion) the AAPC started out trying to give professionalism to the physician-based coder. Then it saw a mass explosion and the AAPC wanted the cake and wanted to eat it too. So to give those that wanted to be coders it instituted the apprentice program. Then they made the exam easier, (heck I took it only 5 years ago and then it had ten sections and you had to pass each section or fail the entire exam, like Doreen stated), because people cried "it's too hard" and the AAPC got a little greedy and made it easier so they could have more members.

    But then "career colleges" started to produce too many "coders" using the old "have a better and easier life" and "code from home" and people saw and heard life would be easier and I'd get paid better and they had dreams of grandeur.

    And now, because the market is glutted and there are no jobs, people are crying out, blaming the AAPC for wanting to get back to it's roots and be a homing point for professional coders because it wants to make the certification mean something.

    How's that bachelors doing for you? Wait, was it a waste of money and time getting it? (Not trying to pinpoint you shakira, many have said "I have a degree in this thread"). Isn't your degree helping you get a position now?

    How about we go be doctors? They have to go to school for 8+ years and then residency and all that junk. Just to get their "certification" (license). You think this one little change (which may or may not happen based on people letting the AAPC hear from them) is tough? Try being that doctor and all the changes they have to keep up with or lose credentialling and possibly their license.

    Things change and companies have to change to. If the AAPC doesn't do something to make our certification truly mean something, then our cert will be worth less than the paper it's printed on.

    So while I'm sorry for those that don't have a coding position, or are finding it hard to get a paid internship or think the exam is too hard or too long, I'm not sorry the AAPC is doing something to make my certification (and others) mean something. And believe me I know how tough it is. I have three kids, my wife doesn't work and I make well under 40K.

    On the flip side of the argument though is those that have been through the ringer and are "apprentices".

    How about I cry out about icd-10 and the AAPC making me take a new exam by a certain date and if I don't pass it by that date I lose my certification entirely and have to start over?

    I didn't "sign up" for that back in 2006!! lol, just kidding.

    I embrace these changes to better myself and my fellow coders.

    The AAPC is just changing with the times and the evolving requirements.

  8. #58
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    12,560
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by shakira View Post
    I think there is something dishonest here. I have a bachelor's degree, and have worked in a hospital setting for over 20 years. I took the online CPC course, passed the CPC exam the first time but was not issued a completion certificate due to a " technicality" and now, 3 years later, am working 4 hours per week " coding" on a very limited basis because I am still an " apprentice." I am several thousand dollars " in the red" due to renewal fees for my " credential" , seminar fees, the cost of the course that I was never given credit for, plus books, etc. Now I have to come up with another $1000 for ICD-10 bootcamp plus new books, etc. I think if you already have a credential such as M.D., MBA, R.N. then the CPC is just the icing on the cake and you are given easier certification and rights to publishing articles in the Coding Edge or speaking at a seminar with an excellent salary. Otherwise, if you just want to advance your current position or even obtain a coding position, it is short of impossible. I am very disillusioned with the coding world. I initially wanted to make a difference and bring honesty and integrity into the coding profession. But it is virtually impossible to break into unless you already have a coding job and then go to get certified or you are already an R.N. or M.D. or have your MBA. I am just glad that I didn't resign from my current evening job as a transcriptionist because if I had resigned to obtain a coding position I would be jobless. This AAPC progran is very deceiving and I am looking to possibly file a complaint against this company. I think AAPC is very biased and not very fair. I am wondering if there is going to be an ICD-10-A after passing my exam which will be another "technicality" which will prevent me from qualifying me for a coding position. And by reading the other comments that other "apprentices" have posted, I am seriously considering "throwing in the towel." I hope that my opininion as well as the opinions of others are read and considered by the AAPC. I have spoken with several coders who are certified from several years back and they never had to obtain years of experience or obtain references or take additional exams. Once they passed the 5 1/2 hour coding exam, they were certified. Period. When did these "apprentice" requirements begin? I feel this is unfair and biased and it also provides extra income for AAPC looking at all of the apprentices in the publication of AAPC Coding Edge each month. I hope that these comments are read and considered.

    From CPC-A 01092997
    I am not sure what your complaint is exactly. I have had my certification for a long time now, since about 1999 I believe or it may have been before that, I have a Masters degree in Public Health and over 20 years of experience. I am not sure what the technicality is that has kept the A on your certification. Back when I became certified you had to apply to take the test, you had to submit your resume and have 2 or 3 letters of recommendation then the board decided if you had the necessary background to take the test, if not you had to work longer in the field or take some additional classes. I know people that were turned down to take the test. If you have 20 years experience and a degree that is relevant to the field then I am not sure why the A but if you talked to the AAPC whatever the technicality is it could be worked out. BUT ... do not blame the AAPC because you cannot get a job. You have experience and degree and the certification with or without the A, so there is nothing stopping you except you!
    You do not have to spend money taking an ICD-10 CM class, you can learn this without classes, you just have take the time to figure it out, again the only thing stopping you is you. I do get weary of people pointing fingers at the AAPC everytime they do not get a job.. and to say there is something dishonest????? really! This is a fine upstanding organization and in my opinion you have insulted them greatly. I am ashamed of you.
    Last edited by mitchellde; 01-09-2012 at 09:52 AM.

    Debra A. Mitchell, MSPH, CPC-H

  9. #59
    Location
    Fayetteville, NC
    Posts
    300
    Default
    Quote Originally Posted by shakira View Post
    I think there is something dishonest here. I have a bachelor's degree, and have worked in a hospital setting for over 20 years. I took the online CPC course, passed the CPC exam the first time but was not issued a completion certificate due to a " technicality" and now, 3 years later, am working 4 hours per week " coding" on a very limited basis because I am still an " apprentice." I am several thousand dollars " in the red" due to renewal fees for my " credential" , seminar fees, the cost of the course that I was never given credit for, plus books, etc. Now I have to come up with another $1000 for ICD-10 bootcamp plus new books, etc. I think if you already have a credential such as M.D., MBA, R.N. then the CPC is just the icing on the cake and you are given easier certification and rights to publishing articles in the Coding Edge or speaking at a seminar with an excellent salary. Otherwise, if you just want to advance your current position or even obtain a coding position, it is short of impossible. I am very disillusioned with the coding world. I initially wanted to make a difference and bring honesty and integrity into the coding profession. But it is virtually impossible to break into unless you already have a coding job and then go to get certified or you are already an R.N. or M.D. or have your MBA. I am just glad that I didn't resign from my current evening job as a transcriptionist because if I had resigned to obtain a coding position I would be jobless. This AAPC progran is very deceiving and I am looking to possibly file a complaint against this company. I think AAPC is very biased and not very fair. I am wondering if there is going to be an ICD-10-A after passing my exam which will be another "technicality" which will prevent me from qualifying me for a coding position. And by reading the other comments that other "apprentices" have posted, I am seriously considering "throwing in the towel." I hope that my opininion as well as the opinions of others are read and considered by the AAPC. I have spoken with several coders who are certified from several years back and they never had to obtain years of experience or obtain references or take additional exams. Once they passed the 5 1/2 hour coding exam, they were certified. Period. When did these "apprentice" requirements begin? I feel this is unfair and biased and it also provides extra income for AAPC looking at all of the apprentices in the publication of AAPC Coding Edge each month. I hope that these comments are read and considered.

    From CPC-A 01092997
    While I personally do not think an additional test would help someone with no experience get a job as a coder I DO NOT think the AAPC engages in fraudulant practices.
    I went into this with absolutely NO experience in the medical field whatsoever. No "friends" in the industry to pave my way AND no other degree of any sort. I spent a year in a community college taking Medical Billing and Coding, Transcription, and Medical Terminology. I sat for the test three months after my classes ended and passed on the first try. I was awarded a CPC-A. Three months later I was hired as a coder in a local surgical practice. A year later the executive office manager wrote a brief letter stating that I had been coding for a year and my -A was dropped.
    Prior to the -A designation a person had meet certain criteria before they could even take the test so the people you have spoken to did not give you all of the honest details.
    Have you called the AAPC and discussed your issue? I have always found their employees to be friendly and helpful. No one involved with the organization,in my opinion, would purposefully deny you anything you were entitled to. Of course without any knowledge of your extenuating circumstances I can't really offer any concrete advice.
    A. McCormick, CPC, CGSC
    Walters Surgical Associates

  10. Default Looking at this from a distance...
    The thing to remember, my fellow apprentices, is we don't really need the CPC or CPC-A credential to eventually succeed in coding. Nice to have, but not a necessity. My school had a strange obsession with the CPC exam. They promoted it every chance they got and rarely discussed AHIMA and other options. It was like the Holy Grail of coding. Must. Have. CPC.!!!!! Must. Join. AAPC!!!! I must have been brainwashed.

    In my area, I've only seen one job ad asking for a CPC and that was for a billing only (not coding) position. They wanted someone, they said, who "understood coding" but would not be doing coding. I've never seen an ad for a CPC-A. Most jobs have no requirement for a credential and the handful that do, require the CCS. The working coders I know do not have credentials and look amused when I mention mine. Just like the "overly optimistic exaggerations" we heard from the schools about the coding job market, the need for a CPC-A or CPC also seems to have been exaggerated as well.

    So why the heck our we stressing ourselves over (and spending money on) something that is apparently not important???

    I am not bitter. I am not angry. Frustrated? a bit. Mostly I am bemused at myself. If anyone else came to me for advice about what to do in this situation, I'd tell them to cut their losses with the AAPC, concentrate on learning ICD-10, maintain their CCA (I have one) and move on. But there was something so grueling about studying for and taking that exam, that I would rather crawl through hot coals and a pit of rattlesnakes than give it up. LOL I do, however, believe I'll get over this obsession. When I do a cost/benefit analysis of my AAPC credential and membership, the costs clearly outweigh the benefits.

    So I am grateful the APPC put this in the January magazine since my membership is up for renewal in February. I was already leaning towards leaving, this made it easier to do.

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