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My Personal Experience as a New Medical Coder
After much research I choose the field of Medical Coding because I enjoyed the study of Anatomy, the human body has always fascinated me. I found the coding system to be very intriguing as well and at the time there was a great demand for all aspects of the medical field. However, because Medical Coding is a specialized field, the medical coder remains in very high demand.
Perhaps you are curious to know what exactly is Medical Coding, In short, it is the act of identifying specific diagnoses and medical procedures taken from the patient's medical records and translating this information into standardize numeric codes.
The tools used to find these cores are, i.e. ICD-9, 10 CM, International Classification of diseases, Clinical Modification for diagnoses codes, and CPT, Current Procedural Terminology procedure codes and HCPCS, Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System for Medicare claims. When the coding is completed it is sent to insurance companies electronically or by paper forms for payment.
I knew that finding the right school would either make or break my medical coding career; therefore, I spent many hours extensive research to find the perfect school for me. From my research I ascertained that it was of the utmost importance that I selected an accredited school. A school that offered the right subjects for medical coding such as Anatomy, Physiology, Medical Terminology, Health Information Management, Medical Insurance Billing and Coding, Medical Law and Ethics and Medical Office Software. I learned that the school of my choice should guarantee an internship. This was a crucial component to my career success.
In order to get certified I needed to take the exam, but first I had to become member of AAPC- American Academy of Professional Coders or AHIMA- American Health Information Management Association. A fee was required to become a member and a fee was also required to take the exam. The exam was a 5 1/2 hour timed test with 150 multiple-choice questions; it was an open book (manuals) test. The CPC examination consists of questions regarding the correct application of diagnosis, procedure and supply codes used to bill professional medical services to be sent to insurance companies. If after the test, you scored in a certain percentile you would get your certification.
FINDING A JOB
Now on to the job market, here in lays the problem for the new Medical Coder. You must have practical experience to get a job in the Medical Coding field, that is why it is so very important to transition from school to an internship in the coding field, it will give you the needed experience to be hired for a coding job. Most companies want Medical Coders who have at least 3 to 5 years of experience; companies will not hire an inexperienced Medical Coder because of liability issues. Unfortunately, the college of my choice misled me into thinking that they had an internship for Medical Coders when they finished their course. But the fact of the matter was that, they has an internship but only for Medical Assistants! I learned later that my case was not unique, many, many Medical Coders who are certified have been trying for years to break into the Medical Coding field but lack of experience holds them back.
TRYING TO OVER COME OBSTACLES
I tried to over come my obstacles, I volunteered for 100 hours at a local hospital, I tried networking, I signed up with a Temp Agency, joined the local Chapter and had many conversations with the Director taking his expert advice, I scattered my resume, which I revised more than once and finally I call and visited many provider offices, however I was still unable to find a job in the coding field. Now four year later after having spent over $12,000.00, I still have not been able to land that every elusive Medical Corder job.
Medical Coding is an excellent field, I am sure in time the problem for the inexperienced coder will be solved. but until then, It is very important to know the facts before you enter this field of specialty, your choice of schools will determine your success as a Medical coder.
It is hoped that my personal experience will help you avoid the pit falls I experienced, and that this article will shed some light on this exciting career and help you understand the challenges you will face in becoming a Medical Coder.