How do I become a medical coder?
May 26, 2013 9:34 PM   Subscribe

Ideally, I'd like to be prepared for the ICD-10 conversion in 2014. Problem is, I have no experience whatsoever, save medical terminology gleaned from Psych classes. My current position is completely unrelated, I've never held a position in a medical office or hospital, and i do not have a degree in health information management. In light of this, is my goal realistic? If it is - even remotely - where do I start, and is there a way to obtain necessary credentials while still employed full time in an unrelated field? Additionally, I have heard that once certified, it's still relatively difficult to find a first position. How do I ameliorate the stigma of inexperience?
posted by Selena777 to Work & Money (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The great jobs you hear about, you need to be certified which costs a few hundred dollars and have at least an associates degree. Those are the jobs you really want as the majority of them will also pay for your re-certification and CEU's. Some smaller doctors office's/employers won't care if you don't have experience/certified/a degree, but the pay will reflect this. My employer will hire anyone for coding, they also pay about $10.00 per hour. And I'm constantly fixing mistakes made by the coder so that the claim can actually get paid since she's got no idea what she's doing.

Honestly, if you really want to do this, go to school and get the degree at an accredited program. Since you're a student, after you've graduated and have the opportunity to get certified, they'll give you a student discount on the test, which helps immensely. I've been in insurance collections 10 years, but I couldn't get a good job as a coder. They all want a degree and certification.

This is my question from a few years ago, but the info is still up to date. Find an accredited program in your area and have at it.
posted by Attackpanda at 10:21 PM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

My local community college offers an accelerated coding program that gets you your associates degree in one year. Not sure you could pull that off with a full-time job, but these types of things do exist.

I went to an "open house" for this program out of curiosity, and they were very up-front about the fact that they can point you in the right direction after "graduating," but that there was no guarantee about a job/becoming certified/etc.
posted by kuanes at 6:00 AM on May 27, 2013

Here's one place to find an accredited school. Some offer online programs, which may be useful if you need to keep working while studying.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:01 AM on May 27, 2013

Altegra Health offers coding training.
posted by stubie at 6:44 AM on May 27, 2013

Best answer: Hey, I'm a coder in a hospital and this is the first job I've ever had that didn't involve restaurant work, so it can be done.

That degree in Health Information Management? I strongly recommend it. It will allow you to sit for your Registered Health Information Technician credential from AHIMA. As pointed out above, the facilities that don't require it probably won't be offering generous compensation for the work. Go to the AHIMA site, see what schools near you offer the program and what kind of time frame they offer. ( My school had both a two year day program and three year night program.) Don't be afraid to get in touch with the head of the program with questions. This is a stressful field in major flux right now, and they tend to be very good about making sure you realize what you're in for.

And it's true that it is hard to get that first position; however, it might become a little bit easier once the transition to ICD-10 happens, both because there's expected to be a wave of retirements from old school coders, and employers might be more flexible since essentially, we'll all be figuring out what the hell we're doing all over again. I can't repeat enough, though- Network. If you decide on this program, stay in touch with your classmates, your teachers, any site you intern with. If you find you're interested in hospital coding, volunteer in medical records.

Good luck! (Incidentally,I noticed from one of your earlier questions that you were looking for careers for an introvert. This would be a good fit. While you'll still have some interaction with others, it's basically a job where you spend most of your time in your head.) Feel free to contact me with any questions.
posted by jacy at 8:22 AM on May 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

« Older What kind of face mask is good for a woodworker...   |   How can I benefit most from watching course... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.