Finding your first medical billing and coding job can be tricky… employers want experience, but how do you get experience without getting a job? This article gives you some tips from a pro to help you find that first job.
By Kim Felix, RHIA, CCS, AHIMA Certified ICD-10 Trainer
Former Director of Education, Coding/HIM Consulting/EMR Abstraction Division, IOD Incorporated
How do you find your first medical billing and coding job? Well, it isn’t easy. It’s the old double standard most times… you have no experience so no one will hire you…yet how do you get this experience to begin with? What is the best way to get your foot in the door? This question puzzles even the very best of coding students coming out with a 4-year degree.
Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Go to a CAHIIM-Accredited School
What does that mean? The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Health Information Management Education (CAHIIM) is an independent accrediting organization whose mission is to serve the public interest by establishing and enforcing quality accreditation standards for health informatics (HI) and health information management (HIM) educational programs.
Employers in the health care field are looking for candidates who were educated in an accredited program versus the ‘fly-by-night’ coder training that does not have an accreditation behind their name. This speaks volumes in the HIM world.
AHIMA is the organization that offers credentials that include the RHIA (Bachelor’s Degree), RHIT (Associate’s Degree), CCS (Certified Coding Specialist), and the CCA (Certified Coding Associate). The AHIMA credentials are well-recognized in the HIM field nationwide. AHIMA credentials are earned through a challenging program of examinations, education, and experience, and are maintained through continuous review and education.
The CCS credential might be too challenging when you first complete an accredited program. However, the CCA credential is a good place to start for a beginning coder. It shows that you are serious about being a coder and wish to pursue further coding experience.
The CCA credential distinguishes coders by showing commitment and demonstrating coding competencies across all settings, including both hospitals and physician practices. Taking the CCA exam and successfully passing it gives you the CCA credential, which provides an advantage over non-credentialed job applicants.
Ask around to local HIM departments in hospitals and see if they would be willing to take on a volunteer. You could help with random clerical HIM tasks and then spend time reviewing previously coded records and try to code them yourself. You are not interfering with the workflow and you are still getting a feel of how records are coded. Caution: This is only for those who are a self-sufficient, independent study type of person. There is little chance that the coders or coding supervisor will have time to help you understand your errors. You will have to utilize the coding skills that you previously learned and figure out your errors on your own. However, this can often be the very best way to learn!!! This could be the best way for you to get some ‘coding experience’ on your resume and help you get that first medical billing and coding job.
This is what potential employers are looking for: EXPERIENCE. It could also be an opportunity to get your foot in the door with the facility where you are volunteering.