AHIMA's Exams - No Educational Requirements!

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Nicole in Dublin, California

80 months ago

PS - Sorry if this was obvious to everyone else.. I just came across it today and I guess was surprised after all the talk about where to go school that in the end, it doesn't matter. AHIMA will let ANYONE sit for their exams, education and experience, or not!

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Lorraine W. in Connersville, Indiana

80 months ago

Before everyone goes out to sit for the CCA or CCS exams without bothering to have either education or work experience in the field, know this: the CCS exam is intense and intended for experienced coders with 3-5 years of coding experience. It has about a 50-percent passing rate.

For those who aren't aware, there are two other exams from AHIMA--the RHIT and RHIA, which require 2- and 4-year degrees, respectively.

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Nicole in Dublin, California

80 months ago

Thanks Lorraine. I wouldn't imagine sitting for the CCS exam without education and/or experience, but it's nice to know I can sit for the CCA exam with just education.

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Lorraine W. in Connersville, Indiana

80 months ago

aahill in Wilkinson, Georgia said: You sound experienced in the coding field. I am currently attending Heart of Georgia Technical College for Health Information Technology...I don't know a lot about medical coding but I know that I want to continue to work in the healthcare field doing something different. I have a very strong medical terminology back ground. I can only type about 25 wpm though. Do you think that I would be a good candidate?

I've been an Inpatient/ER coder since 1998 and have worked in hospitals, physician offices (physician radiology coding/billing), as a traveling coding consultant, and currently as a remote Inpatient coder.

I have seen new coders who learned very fast...and other coders who, after a YEAR of training just for ER coding--or working Inpatient for over 15 yrs, could not code to save their lives.

What does it take to make a go at coding? I think that you either have it in your blood or you just don't.

Some things I've seen in myself and other coders:

--attention to detail. Yes, it's a term thrown out all over the place...but it is very true. I used to be a professional proofreader of complex legal and engineering documents. Without that keen eye--for what is missing and what is simply incorrect--I wouldn't have done well with either field.

--ability to retain and understand new information. You're coding a chart. You're unsure of the principal dx. Can you remember reading a Coding Clinic relating to it from 3 years prior? Otherwise, you wind up incorrectly coding the chart.

--THOROUGH knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, abbreviations. And sometimes MDs make mistakes while jotting down prog notes. You need to be able to discern if they've screwed up (ie, writing 'parenchyma' when they meant 'paronychia'--from a real case btw).

If your typing/10-key is too slow, take a refresher and/or speed course. Productivity is key: 12-20/hr ER, 5-9/hr OP, 3-5/hr IP in most hospitals.

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PR in Columbus, Ohio

77 months ago

I've just completed physician & facilities coding courses and am beginning to prepare for the AHIMA exam. I did well in the courses but am scared to death of taking the exam because I'm not that good at testing. Any suggestions?

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Larry in Kansas City, Missouri

76 months ago

I have a bachelors degree in business from 1990 which I've never got any use out of. I am currently considering going to school for online certificate in health information from University of Toledo. After completion I would be eligible to sit the Rhia exam. My 10 key and typing are not fast and wondered how important this was and what kind of data entry skills are necessary. I also planned on getting the CCS certification either later or concurently if I would have time and money to do both and work. Hearing how hard it seems to be to break into this field and has made me stop and rethink all these plans. I am upper middle age and do not have any time to waste. Any ideas or thoughts would be appreciated.

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Lorraine W in Connersville, Indiana

76 months ago

I would either take a refresher course in 10-key/keyboarding or simply work diligently on increasing your speed and accuracy on your own. Being able to keep up with production requirements is very important, and having some digital dexterity can go a long way! :)
********
www.ahima.org/certification/ccs.asp

Quote:

Certified Coding Specialists are professionals skilled in classifying medical data from patient records, generally in the hospital setting. These coding practitioners review patients' records and assign numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure. To perform this task, they must possess expertise in the ICD-9-CM coding system and the surgery section within the CPT coding system. In addition, the CCS is knowledgeable of medical terminology, disease processes, and pharmacology.

Hospitals or medical providers report coded data to insurance companies or the government, in the case of Medicare and Medicaid recipients, for reimbursement of their expenses. Researchers and public health officials also use coded medical data to monitor patterns and explore new interventions. Coding accuracy is thus highly important to healthcare organizations because of its impact on revenues and describing health outcomes. Accordingly, the CCS credential demonstrates tested data quality and integrity skills in a coding practitioner. The CCS certification exam assesses mastery or proficiency in coding rather than entry-level skills.

If you have experience in coding inpatient records or coding the hospital portion of ambulatory surgery and emergency room care, you should consider obtaining this certification. In fact, certification is becoming an implicit industry standard.
*********
While some people have been able to take and pass the CCS exam without prior experience, be aware that it is VERY rare. The exam is designed for coders with a high skill level--AHIMA suggests it be taken by coders with several years of experience. Typical pass rate is 65%

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2Sexy in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

76 months ago

Nicole in Dublin, California said: PS - Sorry if this was obvious to everyone else.. I just came across it today and I guess was surprised after all the talk about where to go school that in the end, it doesn't matter. AHIMA will let ANYONE sit for their exams, education and experience, or not!

THANKS for finding out this info! I've been thinking all along that a person must take a coding course at an approved AHIMA school in order to take their CCA exams. The question I have now is, can you take the RHIT exam if you have a degree in another field?

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Venessa Fairley in Covina, California

76 months ago

[
thanks for shareing the information i will be finished with my medical billing and coding training at the end of this week, it is something i needed to know because the schools dont prepare you for the next step....

God bless you and if you have more info please feel free to share....r836

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Lorraine W in Connersville, Indiana

76 months ago

2Sexy in Hattiesburg, Mississippi said: THANKS for finding out this info! I've been thinking all along that a person must take a coding course at an approved AHIMA school in order to take their CCA exams. The question I have now is, can you take the RHIT exam if you have a degree in another field?

Here are the eligibility requirements for taking the RHIT exam:

www.ahima.org/certification/eligibility.rhit.asp

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2Sexy in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

76 months ago

Lorraine W in Connersville, Indiana said: Here are the eligibility requirements for taking the RHIT exam:

www.ahima.org/certification/eligibility.rhit.asp

Thanks. I found the answer a while back that you have to have completed a bachelor's program in health information management in order to sit for that exam. Maybe one day they will change it and allow people with a Bachelor's degree in any field who have completed some type of coding training to sit for that exam. Hopefully, that will be in the future. :-) Anyway, thanks for giving info.

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Annie in Millington, Michigan

76 months ago

2Sexy in Hattiesburg, Mississippi said: Thanks. I found the answer a while back that you have to have completed a bachelor's program in health information management in order to sit for that exam. Maybe one day they will change it and allow people with a Bachelor's degree in any field who have completed some type of coding training to sit for that exam. Hopefully, that will be in the future. :-) Anyway, thanks for giving info.

I doubt they will change the requirement--if anything they might make it more strict. I am biased because I am RHIT eligible, but the HIT program is so much broader than coding that someone with only a coding background does not automatically have the knowledge to be an RHIT.

That said, RHITs are not necessarily great coders, although there is a lot of coding in school.

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Annie in Millington, Michigan

76 months ago

Oh, and I am pretty pro-AHIMA, but I wouldn't go for the CCA credential IMO. I don't think a lot of employers recgonize it and it is equal to or lower proficiency than the CPC. (Again, IMO, I'm sure there are areas that differ.) I do think the CCS is worth shooting for, though I've heard it is pretty hard.

I just took the CPC and passed, and after two years of school I found it extremely easy. But I am afraid of the CCS exam! We did the prep books in my coding internship and they were so hard.

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2Sexy in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

76 months ago

Annie in Millington, Michigan said: Oh, and I am pretty pro-AHIMA, but I wouldn't go for the CCA credential IMO. I don't think a lot of employers recgonize it and it is equal to or lower proficiency than the CPC. (Again, IMO, I'm sure there are areas that differ.) I do think the CCS is worth shooting for, though I've heard it is pretty hard.

I just took the CPC and passed, and after two years of school I found it extremely easy. But I am afraid of the CCS exam! We did the prep books in my coding internship and they were so hard.

I'm planning on taking the CPC exam because Allied, the school I'm attending online, will pay for one year of membership to AAPC. I might take the CCS in the future.

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Joni Joyner in Tulsa, Oklahoma

75 months ago

I want to become a CCS coder. I have an associates degree but want to take the CCS as I find it is easy to ge a job with the credentials. I have been an ER medical transcriptionist for 22 years; if I take the clusters and pass, do you think my chances for employment are good. I also have 3 years of coding for home health care.

Joni Joyner
jonijoyner@sbcglobal.net

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Melony in Palmdale, California

75 months ago

Joni Joyner in Tulsa, Oklahoma said: I want to become a CCS coder. I have an associates degree but want to take the CCS as I find it is easy to ge a job with the credentials. I have been an ER medical transcriptionist for 22 years; if I take the clusters and pass, do you think my chances for employment are good. I also have 3 years of coding for home health care.

Joni Joyner
jonijoyner@sbcglobal.net

I dont see any reason why not. Maybe you can check facilities in your area to see their opinion of a newly credentialed inpatient coder with a transcription background?

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Leventer in Washington, District of Columbia

75 months ago

I am interested in study groups, seminars or network programs for new medical coders beginners.

Thanks

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Lizze in Dallas, Texas

75 months ago

I am planning to get my CCS certification this fall can anyone tell me what is the best review CCS book for review? Can anyone tell me about Faye Brown CCS Prep book.

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JUNE DEMYERS in Hyattsville, Maryland

75 months ago

I am for a position in billing and codeing I have completes a course in Medical Billing. Looking for furture training please respone, who like to work from home Thank-you

june demyers

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Tami in CA

74 months ago

I'm an RN who retired 21 years ago to raise my family. I have an AA degree but stupidly let my nursing license lapse because I was financially secure and had no desire to return to nursing. Yeah, I know.

Now that I find myself in a position where I must return to work ASAP, I'm considering medical coding. I'm wading though all the information and wondering if it would a good transition considering my background and if an approved online course would be the ticket for me. I'm hoping my nursing history would would help speed up the process. I'm a a quick study, fast keyboarder and ready to get cracking.
Comments or suggestions?

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RN in Modesto, California

74 months ago

Tami in CA,

Why not try reinstating your license? Medical coding is going to take some time. Read the following off the CA BON website:

Reinstatement of a Lapsed Registered Nurse License (8-Year Renewal)
If you once held a permanent California RN license that has been expired for longer than eight (8) years, and you would like to renew to active status, you may do so if you meet the following requirements:

Have once held a permanent registered nurse license in California (a temporary license does not qualify) that has been lapsed for 8 years or longer.
Presently hold a current and active registered nurse license in another state or U.S. territory, which includes Guam, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, or Canada.
NOTE: If your license has been expired for longer than (8) years, but you do not meet the above requirements, you must apply to the Board to take the NCLEX-RN examination as an 8-Year Retake.

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Tami in CA

74 months ago

Thank you for your response, I appreciate it.

As I understand it, I'd have to take the boards over again. I'm just not interested. Twenty-one years is a long time to be out of a career and I'm looking for a change - especially at 53. That said, the difference in income will be painful but I'm willing to accept that in lieu of a less stressful occupation.

Do you have an idea of how long it would take to train, given I have a medical background and prefer a self-paced program?

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RN in Modesto, California

74 months ago

A lot has changed in the medical field over the last 21 years. Medical coding is very important for reimbursement purposes. Do you have any experience with ICD-9 codes? I don't know off hand how long it will take, I would imagine somewhere close to a year. Maybe someone else can help.

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Ruthie in Los Angeles, California

74 months ago

I am currently a medical coding student enrolled in one of AHIMA's approved coding programs here in California. The program is about one year. It's better to go to an approved program by AHIMA in order to get certified as CCA or CCS. Employers esp. hospitals prefer graduates from an AHIMA approved school. Go to AHIMA's website: www.ahima.org
Click on "Schools/Jobs".
Go to "approved coding programs".
And try to find out the school that offers medical coding that's approved by AHIMA. Good luck!

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Sheri in Dallas, Texas

73 months ago

One of AHIMA's publications this past couple of months states that the lastest passing rate for first time test taker of CCS is 49%! I'm taking the test in a couple of days and knowing this makes me study harder.

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Tami in CA

73 months ago

I understand AHIMA has their own distance education course.
campus.ahima.org/Campus/course_info/CB/index.html
Is anyone familiar with it? It looks intriguing and at a self-paced rate, I should be able to sail through the areas I am already familiar with. At least I hope so!

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Monica in Clarksville, Tennessee

73 months ago

I'm also interested in the AHIMA distance education course. I just want to make sure that their program is respected in the medical community. I don't want to spend $2,000 to find out that I can't get a medical coding job with an AHIMA certificate. I was just a little concerned because they aren't considered a school but are an association. Does that make a big difference?

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Tami in CA

73 months ago

I was referred to another course from AAPC. It is roughly $1200.
www.aapc.com/education/online-medical-coding-billing-courses.aspx
Syllabus: www.aapc.com/education/documents/301-eLearning-PhysicianBasedMedicalCodingsyllabus.pdf

Can anyone tell me how it differs from the AHIMA course, which is $2000?
Thanks!
Tamara

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Jeannine in Houston, Texas

72 months ago

I have completed  1 year/336 Contract hour's/2.8 CEU's of Medical Billing and Coding at a community college here in Tx. I recieved my certificate of completion in Nov, 2005. I also have 8 years experience working with doctor's specializing in the area's of Oncology(melanoma), Orthopedics and Chiropractic care. My experence is in a wide rande of duties from billing and coding, collection, medical assistant, patient admittion, pre-review,modifiers, ext. I really injoy this line of work. However, I have not taken the exam. I am now not working and I would like to get my certification. What I would like to know from someone who has taken the test is. What will I need to refreshen up on the most? Where can I find the information that will tell me the next testing date's in Houston,Tx? Where can I get more informaion on the test?   

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Joni Joyner in Tulsa, Oklahoma

72 months ago

You can contact www.ahima.com and they will have all the information you need, good luck!

Joni Joyner

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G Michaels in Youngstown, Ohio

72 months ago

Hi, there is a free 20 queston cpc practice exam available at www.medicalcodingpro.com and a full test for reasonable if you wnat to brush up on things.

Gregg

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stevan in Troy, New York

71 months ago

I know that knowledge of icd-9 codes is essential for this field, but has anyone heard about a new system called icd-10? I spoke with a coder friend of mine who informed me that by 2010 the U.S. will have adapted the icd-10 model which is used supposedly worldwide in order for our country to be in sync with the rest of the world? Is this info correct? Has anyone heard about it?

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Sheri in Dallas, Texas

71 months ago

Yes, goto AHIMA.org for more information.

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Cat in Pensacola, Florida

71 months ago

Yes CMS and AHIMA have passed this into law that by 2010 the USA will finally have to change over to ICD-10 this is the way as you said the rest of the world codes. All coders will have to be educated in this new way of coding. If you are in school make sure they offer ICD-10 classes. You can check on ahima.org for more information about this, also cms.gov (the medicare website)and you might find some information on fortherecord.com about this as well. Hope this helps.

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OMP in Skokie, Illinois

71 months ago

Tami in CA said: I was referred to another course from AAPC. It is roughly $1200.
www.aapc.com/education/online-medical-coding-billing-courses.aspx
Syllabus: www.aapc.com/education/documents/301-eLearning-PhysicianBasedMedicalCodingsyllabus.pdf

Can anyone tell me how it differs from the AHIMA course, which is $2000?
Thanks!
Tamara

Regarding Tamara's question, does anyone know the difference? Is the AAPC just as respected as AHIMA, or is there a difference. I'm a respiratory therapist now and would like to do medical coding as well, but I don't want to have to spend more time and more money for the AHIMA's course if I don't have to.

Please respond someone, because I want to enroll in one of the courses in the next few weeks. I am going to be going through a divorce, and I want something with better hours. Also, I'm going to need to do the course online through either AHIMA or AAPC.

I appreciate any advice!

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OMP in Skokie, Illinois

71 months ago

Cat in Pensacola, Florida said: Yes CMS and AHIMA have passed this into law that by 2010 the USA will finally have to change over to ICD-10 this is the way as you said the rest of the world codes. All coders will have to be educated in this new way of coding. If you are in school make sure they offer ICD-10 classes. You can check on ahima.org for more information about this, also cms.gov (the medicare website)and you might find some information on fortherecord.com about this as well. Hope this helps.

I just got through going through the curriculum of all the online schools in AHIMA, and nobody offers ICD-10!

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Vanessa in Bronx, New York

71 months ago

Both AHIMA and AAPC are both two respected organizations. You cannot go wrong with either of those. There is also AHIMA approved programs. Becareful with any other sites who are filled with empty promises. Most hospitals, if not all would not recognize any other credentials. Take it from me because I work in the medical facility. Enroll with the best, AHIMA or AAPC.

With the economy now you don't want to waste money with any other so called, fly by night schools.

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Joni Joyner in Tulsa, Oklahoma

71 months ago

I am a member of AHIMA. With them, you can get JOBS! The other schools are not as reputable, AHIMA is the heart of both medical transcription and coding.

I checked into that and it is 500.00 for so much level, then 500.00 when you pass that, etc. etc. I think that would be the way to go. Plus, I have a lot of job offers through AHIMA, all the hospitals, most of them anyway are connected with AHIMA.

Hope this helps. God bless, good luck in your endeavors.

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Donna

71 months ago

Tami in CA said: I'm an RN who retired 21 years ago to raise my family. I have an AA degree but stupidly let my nursing license lapse because I was financially secure and had no desire to return to nursing. Yeah, I know.

Now that I find myself in a position where I must return to work ASAP, I'm considering medical coding. I'm wading though all the information and wondering if it would a good transition considering my background and if an approved online course would be the ticket for me. I'm hoping my nursing history would would help speed up the process. I'm a a quick study, fast keyboarder and ready to get cracking.
Comments or suggestions?

Yes, your RN background will definitely help you because I have been looking for Health Information positions and I am finding alot of positions they hire RN's. Maybe they want that clinical background along with HIT classes.

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Sheri in Dallas, Texas

71 months ago

yes, RN's can apply for medical coding auditing jobs (40-60k). Even if you let your lic lapse, you have the background so go for it. All the A&P, patho, and pharmo will be easy to breeze through as it should be just a review for you and all you will need to do is learn how to look up codes which you can teach yourself. I did and passed the CCA and am now about to sit for the CCS-P. Go for it!

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Sheri in Dallas, Texas

71 months ago

Nicole in Dublin, California said: I just read in Ahima's fine print: "The CCA exam is not linked to any formal education or training in coding."

All you need is a high school diploma to qualify for the CCA. So basically, you can go to school for coding ANYWHERE to sit for the exam.

In another section, I read "it is strongly recommended that you have at least 6 mos of experience OR have completed an AHIMA-approved coding certificate program or other formal education program."

Same for the CCS and CCS-P exams - there are no specific education requirements, just recommendations on how long you should have worked in the field before taking the exam.

This cleared alot up for me on schooling. I didn't realize it doesn't really matter where you go to school, just as long as you can study to pass the AHIMA exam.

It's exactly like when I got my real estate license.. it didn't matter WHERE I took the Real Estate Principles class to qualify for the state exam, I just had to pass the state exam to become real estate licensed. No one ever asks where you took the class because it doesn't matter!

You don't need to go to formal coding classes. Get a book and teach yourself and save the money - it is EASY. Get a book at AMAZON, the used ones are cheap.

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Tami in CA in Costa Mesa, California

71 months ago

Thank you all, your input really helps. Since I've been out of work for 22 years, I think a course would be a great refresher so I might as well for for the lower cost, AHIMA approved course. I just hope it won't be difficult to find a job with no recent experience.
I appreciate the information and support here!

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Vanessa in Bronx, New York

71 months ago

Sheri in Dallas, Texas said: You don't need to go to formal coding classes. Get a book and teach yourself and save the money - it is EASY. Get a book at AMAZON, the used ones are cheap.

Sheri, not everyone have the discipline to study on their own.

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Sheri in Dallas, Texas

71 months ago

I understand but the material is not that hard. My teenager daughter picked it up just to see how to do it.

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Vanessa in Bronx, New York

71 months ago

Sheri in Dallas, Texas said: I understand but the material is not that hard. My teenager daughter picked it up just to see how to do it.

I have heard though of someone who didn't go to any coding school and bought the books and taught herself. So I guess it could happen. Dedication is the key.

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OMP in Schaumburg, Illinois

71 months ago

Vanessa in Bronx, New York said: I have heard though of someone who didn't go to any coding school and bought the books and taught herself. So I guess it could happen. Dedication is the key.

Wouldn't it be better for someone with no experience to actually have a certificate from the AHIMA plus the credential when applying for a job, especially through an agency?

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Vanessa in Bronx, New York

71 months ago

OMP in Schaumburg, Illinois said: Wouldn't it be better for someone with no experience to actually have a certificate from the AHIMA plus the credential when applying for a job, especially through an agency?

Of course it would but not everyone have the $3,000.00 to spend at AHIMA. They could go the AAPC route which I think is $1,200.00 but the credential from AHIMA seems to carry more weight.

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Cat in Pensacola, Florida

71 months ago

I would also like to add a comment. The nicely typed reports that are on the tests and in the books are not the experience you are going to have on the job where you have to read a doctors handwriting and some of them are horrible plus you might have a 2 day stay to 3 months for an inpatient chart where you have to read and make sure what you code is documented you cannot just code from the discharge summary and you'll be lucky if its typed and you can get charts that are not assembled, just memorizing the codes and working from school books does not begin to prepare or expose you to actual conditions on the job.

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Jeannine in Missouri City, Texas

71 months ago

I would like to know when will the next AHIMA exam be given? I live in Houston, Tx and completed the necessary classes for this exam 2 years ago. However, I was hired and began working in an Oncologist office before I completed the exam. What I would like to know from some one with a situation similar to mine and has completed the exam. What should I focus on in refreshing my skills?

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Teresa in Fayetteville, North Carolina

71 months ago

Lorraine W. in Connersville, Indiana said: I've been an Inpatient/ER coder since 1998 and have worked in hospitals, physician offices (physician radiology coding/billing), as a traveling coding consultant, and currently as a remote Inpatient coder.

I have seen new coders who learned very fast...and other coders who, after a YEAR of training just for ER coding--or working Inpatient for over 15 yrs, could not code to save their lives.

What does it take to make a go at coding? I think that you either have it in your blood or you just don't.

Some things I've seen in myself and other coders:

--attention to detail. Yes, it's a term thrown out all over the place...but it is very true. I used to be a professional proofreader of complex legal and engineering documents. Without that keen eye--for what is missing and what is simply incorrect--I wouldn't have done well with either field.

--ability to retain and understand new information. You're coding a chart. You're unsure of the principal dx. Can you remember reading a Coding Clinic relating to it from 3 years prior? Otherwise, you wind up incorrectly coding the chart.

--THOROUGH knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, abbreviations. And sometimes MDs make mistakes while jotting down prog notes. You need to be able to discern if they've screwed up (ie, writing 'parenchyma' when they meant 'paronychia'--from a real case btw).

If your typing/10-key is too slow, take a refresher and/or speed course. Productivity is key: 12-20/hr ER, 5-9/hr OP, 3-5/hr IP in most hospitals.

You said you worked as a traveling coding consultant. I am wondering do you have to be certified to get a job as a traveling coder since I have 11 months under me already? Is it hard to get a coding job with your RHIA finish out of college?
Thank you. You are more and welcome to email me at varsityknights@aol.com

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