Medical Coding: Board Certification or Degree?
I’ve been getting a lot of calls and emails lately from different coders that are already in the industry. They’re already coding, they’ve already come to the Medical Coding Academy and obtained their CPC through AAPC (or CCA from AHIMA) and now they’re calling me with regrets. It often goes something like this: “Mrs. T, you won’t believe what happened, but I just got passed up here at work for the promotion I was wanting. They were hiring a team lead (or manager position, or auditor position) and I just totally got passed up for it! They went with the other girl down in the other department.”
Or, worse, I’ve gotten some calls and emails where the company didn’t go with anybody in the department whatsoever because apparently everyone in the department had just the initial credentials and they were looking for a specialty, or they were looking for the next level in the COC, the CPMA, the CCS, CCSP or the CCS, and they get passed up for the promotion. I don’t want that to happen to you.
My advice is that when you go out into the industry— from the AAPC or the CCA to the AHIMA — you don’t just go out and settle. You shouldn’t just sit on that one credential (your initial credential). Don’t be status quo. Don’t be the average. Don’t be the norm! If you’re going to do this industry right, do it and then do it with all your heart and soul. Go after it and hit the ground running. People ask me all the time, “What do you listen to on the radio? Or, “What do you watch on TV?” There is no radio. There is no TV. What’s on my radio and TV is coding!
I’m listening to webinars, I’m watching webinars, I’m watching and listening to conferences on my on my earbuds when I’m traveling and on the airplane. I’ve always got my head in the game I’ve always got my focus. I figure that right now is when I’m young; right now is the time to work hard so that later in life I can relax and have a nice life. If we’re going to do something, do it to the fullest.
The Benefits of the Industry
I’m thankful for organizations like the AAPC and the AHIMA and for this blessed industry. I’m blessed to think that there are no real prerequisites for medical coding; we don’t have to have a two-year degree or a four-year degree to go out and make it as a successful medical coder that can make so much money. It’s crazy because I talk to plenty of people on a daily basis and I can’t tell you how many stories come through where medical coders are making into six figures because they’re working for two providers — or from home, where they’re working for three providers. It’s all about that alphabet soup because I’m going to tell you something: when it comes down to it and an employer has to choose between one person because they’re awesome and sound wonderful in the interview or a second person that has two credentials, they’re always going to choose the second person.
For the baby coders out there that are that are going out and attaining their initial credential, you know you’re having to work a little bit harder. Don’t be surprised if you have to put in an extra 25 applications than the next person. To even begin getting the phone calls back for the jobs you’re seeking will be a win. The reason for that is because you have no experience and you’re going to have to worry about whether you will even get the interview. But you’ve got you’ve got to be persistent; you’ve got to submit lots and lots of applications. But I will tell you one of the smartest things that you can do is to is to get yourself alphabet soup behind your name.
All About the Alphabet Soup
I’m trying to tell you and I know this because it’s factual. I know that from experience. That’s what I see in here all the time but many of my coders they’ll get jobs brand new off the street despite never having coded before. Why? Because they are mult-country credentialed! They don’t just have the CPC, they have the COC and the CPM as well. Employers will kind of they just forgive the fact that you don’t have any industry experience if they know that at least you’ve proven on multiple board exams that you absolutely know your medical coding guidelines more than the average person does. They will pass up the resume of a very experienced coder if they are not credentialed. They will go with yours instead. You will surpass them even with no experience. Why? Because of the alphabet soup.
So in a nutshell, standard certifications like the CPC, AAPC, CCA and AHIMA will definitely get you the job, but in order to stay competitive and to be marketable, you’ve got to go after the specialty credentials. You’ve got to go after specialty credentials like the COC or the CPM or others in order to stay marketable and be competitive in this industry.