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

  1. #61
    Location
    Tacoma, WA
    Posts
    1,087
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    Medical Coding Books
    Quote Originally Posted by AnneM2 View Post
    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.
    And it does depend on the area you live in. Where I live a credential, either CPC or CCS-P, is essential if you want a job in coding. Of course there are still people out there working in coding that have been doing it a long time that are not certified.

    What may happen is, as the long time non-certified coders retire or leave their jobs, the move will be for the new hires to be certified. Also, all the mergers of smaller physician practices into larger medical corporations are going to push non-certified coders out the door. I have seen it happen. Some folks are getting certified with both AHIMA and AAPC, some are choosing one or the other. AHIMA is a great place for those who want to get into hospital and facility coding as well as HIM stuff. The advent of ICD-10 and the move to EHR are both going to impact medical coding in a big way.

    There is a saturated market right now, I hope that changes in the certification and membership system will help to re-define things for coders. I have been doing this for a long time and figure it will be the career I retire from in about 15 years!
    Arlene J. Smith, CPC, CPMA, CEMC, COBGC

  2. #62
    Default
    Members,

    Many of you bring forth valid issues and concern and we value each of them. So that your voice may be heard, the AAPC generously granted a comment period on this issue, something that has never been done before in this organization.

    Please don't discard this opportunity to be heard. I encourge each of you to post your comments and concerns on the site provided and where each will be reviewed and possible alternatives offered may be considered.

    www.aapc.com/CPC-acomment

    Cyndi Stewart, CPC, CPMA, CPC-H, CPC-I
    President, National Advisory Board of the AAPC

  3. Default Virtual Experience: Apprentice Removal Program
    I am also one of the CPC-"A"s still in the process of testing in the Virtual Experience: Apprentice removal program (800 operative and office notes from 17 different specialities). I have been waiting for over a year to finish the testing program as last summer the program was put on hold for re-vamping. At that time I had completed close to 600 cases. I have since done the "Beta Testing" and am now waiting for the final version of the testing program so I can finish & get rid of the dreaded "A". I don't see how AAPC can drop this program as they need to up-hold their standards as a professional organization. I feel they will follow through.
    No learning is wasted and I have enjoyed coding these notes but I guess I have to say I feel cheated if coding 20 notes in an exam to remove the "A" instead of the 800 we have been working on, seems unfair. That said; for my next job interview I will challenge HR to give me a coding test containing samples of their OP notes and office visits as I feel I'm up to it. I have learned so much doing this online program.
    If this goes forward as now being considered, I hope AAPC will acknowledge in a meaningfull way, the effort and time those of doing the Virtual Experience: Apprentice Removal program have put in.
    L. Hendrickson CPC-"A"
    Quote Originally Posted by machshaffer@aol.com View Post
    I'm a CPC-A and I am quite unsure of what I now may need to do to get the"A" lifted from my credential. I have a particular concern with this change because I actually did sign up and work through, all but about 100 of the 800, doctor notes for the Online Apprentice Removal Program this past summer when the site went down and I was not able to complete it. I am sure there are some of you who have read some of my posts since this all went down, and you are probably tired of hearing about it, but let me just share my story once more...

    I decided last summer to take some time off from a job I had as a Medical Assistant, which I had worked for 14 months. I thought this was going to be my "foot-in-the-door", but it was clear it was not going to happen with this practice due to nature of it being a small practice( one doctor), no room to move up. Anyway, I decided to leave the practice-due to other unfortunate reasons as well, to per sue the Online Apprentice Program. I dedicated my ENTIRE summer to try and finish this with the hopes of finishing by fall, so I could get back to work with this experience behind me. I literally worked all day, and night, every single day this past summer (from 8:00 am to at least 10:00 pm). Unfortunately, the site went down when I had about 100 to do in order to finish. This was in Aug/Sept, and I have been patiently waiting for the site to come back up so I could finish. I even participated in helping with providing feedback to the AAPC during this time. I want to say that having nearly finished this program, it was very exhausting and every bit as grueling as the CPC exam. I feel I have worked extremely hard, and dedicated a large amount of time working on this progam, only to possibly have it no longer be available as an option for removing my "A" status. I signed up for this program because it allowed me to do it on my own time, at my own pace, and from home. I think the idea of this program was a good one in that it teaches you not just what to code, but if you submit incorrectly, to do some research to find the correct codes, and understand why you may have an incorrect code. I think a coder gets a better understanding of the process as a whole. If you sit for a test consisting of only 20 notes, and have a time limit how is this considered an apprentice program where a new coder is being prepared for real world? Everyone needs to be trained for any job, and there aren't many employers willing to train a coder, so I think an apprentice program should be an option to train and further teach a new coder to prepare them for the real world. New coders still need experience to get a job, they cannot get a job and then sit for the test, because they won't be hired without the credential either. And it is another, additional expense.

    All this being said, there definately needs to be a change on how new coders can obtain the experience, and the credential, to help them gain the employment. But from my point of view, I am very upset about how this is potentially going to affect me. I have spent a large amount of time, AND money persuing this credential/education. I am beginning to feel I have wasted alot of my time, money, AND energy trying to obtain this credential. Maybe I should go back to Accounting, where I DO have the experience, in addition to a degree from a state college. I love the medical feild and I have the compassion for this line of work, and I thought I had found where I belonged, but I have to say this has been a dissapointing experience. I hope those at the AAPC will read my post and try to help me understand what exactly MY options are now....?

  4. #64
    Red face Todays it's an Employer's Market
    I've read many posts from many threads (not just AAPC) that are from one end of the spectrum: those who have coding experience and a credential yet still can't get a job, to reading posts on the other end of the spectrum: those who don't have coding experience and/or a credential yet still can't even get a non-coding related job just to get their foot in the door.

    In my opinion, I can summarize that it all boils down to the “employer”.
    Due to the current economy, and other factors, this industry is the “employer's market”, and they have the upper hand and know it. So good networking these days seems to trump experience and education and credentials.

    Since there is such a saturation of those who want to get involved in coding, the employers are raising the bar and are going to be a lot more selective then before about whom they hire because they can. The requirements, for a particular position 10 years ago, have more likely been increased. What you currently have to bring to the table may have been considered ‘overqualified' many years ago, but now you are considered ‘underqualified'.

    I don't believe you can really point the finger at anyone in particular, it's just the nature of the business ‘beast' for now, and I'm sure there have been other types of industries that have gone through a similar situation.

    I too am anxious to see what changes ICD10 and EHR, EMR, etc. will have in the medical coding industry the next couple of years. It seems the best thing to do for now is to get very familiar with ICD10 and continue to network best you can through ALL avenues.

  5. Default
    It has been my experience through 6 years of Teaching (as a licensed PMCC Instructor) and an Employer of CPC's for the past 26 years that passing the CPC exam is indicative of the knowledge base of the individual. Most coders have limited experience in 1 specialty or limited to billing. I have had many "fresh" Coder's who I would hire before someone who is "self taught". Needless to say, having an individual take another exam, in my mind, is punishing the eager individual who has earned the CPC designation just as much as the "experienced coder". I have many "experienced coders" who cannot pass the CPC exam....The exam is the same for everyone therefore the earned designation should be the same. A person's resume details their experience....NO other certification or organization adds a designation to "taint" an individual.

  6. #66
    Location
    Tacoma Washington Chapter
    Posts
    21
    Thumbs up
    Quote Originally Posted by marion View Post
    It has been my experience through 6 years of Teaching (as a licensed PMCC Instructor) and an Employer of CPC's for the past 26 years that passing the CPC exam is indicative of the knowledge base of the individual. Most coders have limited experience in 1 specialty or limited to billing. I have had many "fresh" Coder's who I would hire before someone who is "self taught". Needless to say, having an individual take another exam, in my mind, is punishing the eager individual who has earned the CPC designation just as much as the "experienced coder". I have many "experienced coders" who cannot pass the CPC exam....The exam is the same for everyone therefore the earned designation should be the same. A person's resume details their experience....NO other certification or organization adds a designation to "taint" an individual.
    Marion very well said!

  7. #67
    Location
    San Antonio TX
    Posts
    25
    Default Elimination of Apprentice
    I don't agree and I think it's ridiculous...There's a lot of students who spent a whole year taking coding like me. I took 2 tough exams and with me being apprentice is keeping me from getting a coding job coz of lack of coding experience. How are we going to get experience if nobody gives us a chance? And now, you want us to take another exam with extra $35 more? This is absolutely not right!!
    Offices should give us chances. And instead of helping us, this 'thing' is gonna make it even more harder for us to get a job and experience..smh

  8. Default
    Wow!!!
    After reading all of these I am really second guessing my choice of careers as a medical coder. I have spent 20+ thousand dollars and now to find out that the dream my never come true is quit depressing. Did not think it was going to be this hard to get into something after obtaining a degree. Wonder if I can ask for a refund? and to think I just received my exam study guide too.
    Connie, just another newly graduated medical coder

  9. #69
    Location
    Oklahoma City
    Posts
    51
    Default
    Connie - I am probably going to get thrown under the bus for saying this, but first off why did you spend that much? Second, did you do any research on the field before attending school? If people would do the research they would find that it is tough out there right now for new graduates. You need to be applying for entry-level positions that will work your way into coding such as receptionist, front desk, medical records, registration, admitting, etc. And network as much as you can. It might not be fair, but that's how it is right now. I guess I'm getting kind of tired of new graduates expecting a coding job to be handed to them and didn't do any research in the field before going to school...
    Jenny,CPC, COC
    Remote Coder

  10. Default
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn Hendrickson View Post
    I am also one of the CPC-"A"s still in the process of testing in the Virtual Experience: Apprentice removal program (800 operative and office notes from 17 different specialities). I have been waiting for over a year to finish the testing program as last summer the program was put on hold for re-vamping. At that time I had completed close to 600 cases. I have since done the "Beta Testing" and am now waiting for the final version of the testing program so I can finish & get rid of the dreaded "A". I don't see how AAPC can drop this program as they need to up-hold their standards as a professional organization. I feel they will follow through.
    No learning is wasted and I have enjoyed coding these notes but I guess I have to say I feel cheated if coding 20 notes in an exam to remove the "A" instead of the 800 we have been working on, seems unfair. That said; for my next job interview I will challenge HR to give me a coding test containing samples of their OP notes and office visits as I feel I'm up to it. I have learned so much doing this online program.
    If this goes forward as now being considered, I hope AAPC will acknowledge in a meaningfull way, the effort and time those of doing the Virtual Experience: Apprentice Removal program have put in.
    L. Hendrickson CPC-"A"
    Lynn, I was happy to see your post in reguards to the Apprentice Program. It was a relief to see there was someone other than myself that is having this very same experience. I also, was a beta tester for the program. I was offered reimbursement when the site went down, but I am hanging in there and fighting for the program to continue because, like you, I really feel that I have learned sooo... much during this process. I think once the AAPC gets the bugs worked out of it, it will be a GREAT experience for a "new" coder. I also feel that it is a challenging program and , for those who want to per sue a job in this field, it ABSOLUTELY requires them to work through the cases as if they are working in the "real world". I think this is the way the AAPC should help those with the "A" status get through this process. I don't think making us sit and pay for another exam is the answer, we passed the CPC exam the way it was offered, and the way it was offered was not our fault. But having said that, I'm sure you would agree, there are many of us who would support future changes to the CPC exam, by adding the clinical notes, as it would test the coders understanding of the process, and it is a very positive step for the future, but something has to happen to now, for the apprentices, to make the transition. I personally would rather pay the money for a program that would prepare me for the "real world", than take another test that would give me a "Status" change, and no real experience. After just doing approximately 700 of the 800 notes, and now having been a beta tester, I feel comfortable applying to a job, and being interviewed and/or tested by a potential employer as well. I actually sent my comment to the web address offered by the AAPC, and proposed that the Apprentice Program be continued, and the changes for the future CPC test be implemented. I also asked that the AAPC should consider continuing the "A" program for those who would like to have the additional experience/education, even after the changes have been made in the future. I believe this program will give future coders VERY strong skills in the field, and recognize the AAPC as VERY,(more than it already is), reputable organization. I think it is important to recognize those of us who are working really hard to get our "A" lifted, and it should be said that even though there are some who have "high" expectations of being "given" a job, there are MANY, like you and myself, who are willing to work extremely hard, and do whatever it takes, to "work" for a job. Just hanging in there and wanting to work hard at a program, like the Apprentice Removal Program, just proves exactly that. I encourage you to post your comment on the site that the AAPC provided, if you haven't already, to help those of us get the support we strongly desire. Keep your chin up, fingers crossed, and hopefully there will be a resolution to this issue soon!

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