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How to become a certified medical coder

Many people believe that working in the health care industry requires one to provide bedside care to patients in need. This is a misconception because for every nurse hired to care for a patient, there are many more medical staff dedicating their time and efforts towards the business and technological aspect of health care. The medical coder is one such profession, and like their other counterparts, they plays an important role in ensuring the efficient running of the health care sector.

A medical coder is sometimes called a medical coding and billing specialist, and is tasked to turn raw data from patient charts into standardized Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes. Doing so accurately will ease the burden of a health care provider, who in turn will be able to give effective diagnosis and treatment to patients.

Did that catch your attention? If this sounds like something you’re interested in, read on and find out what’s the best way to embark upon the career path of a certified medical coder.

Perks of being a medical coder

  • Upon graduating from high school, you need to go through a relatively short training stint. Some medical coding students have been known to spend only 6 to 9 months before getting their first job
  • There are numerous accredited medical coder programs available, where courses are made accessible online so that you can save time, money and effort while acquiring the proper medical coding certification
  • As the need for accountability in the medical workplace increases, so does the call for capable medical coders. In time, there would be more high-paying executive-level jobs in larger insurance firms and health care providers’ offices.

Training to be a certified medical coder

Step 1: Start shopping around for medical coding classes in your area upon graduation. A community college that offers flexible hours and flexible courses may be your best stepping stone if money is an issue. Otherwise you may search for notable schools that provide a good coding certification program. As you will mainly deal with clerical and administrative work, you may want to consider taking online courses which will help you save time and effort.

Step 2: Ask your school about clocking in some on-the-job hours before graduating. This will give you better employment prospects, if your school isn’t already diligent in preparing entry level medical coding positions.

Step 3: Register for a medical coder certification. When it was once the norm for medical coders to learn everything they can on the job, being a certified medical coder these days will certainly gain you more perks in the long run. Select a national certifying body for testing, read up on requirements and instructions, then register for the exam. A good place to start is at the website of the American Academy of Procedural Coders (AAPC)

Step 4: Take the exam confidently. Compared to other professions, certification examination for medical coders are not too difficult to muster. Depending on the certifying body, you can take up to six hours to complete the exam, after which you pass, you can proudly call yourself a certified medical coder.

Step 5: Don’t forget about your Continuing Education (CE) requirement. Depending on the certifying body, you will need to complete a particular number of CE units if you want to maintain your credentials.

Leaping ahead as a medical coder

The beauty of being a medical coding expert lies in the fact that a career change is possible at any point of his or her life. Should a medical coder get tired of administrative work, he or she can take courses and switch to another career, for example, a medical assistant or pharmacy technician.

With hard work, a good-paying position spearheading the company’s coding and billing department can be well within your reach.

Filed in: Medical Billing And Coding Career

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