Medical Coding Specialist Certificate (online) at SBCC

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futurecoder in Modesto, California

102 months ago

Hello all, just want to start off by saying that I'm really glad I found this forum since after reading many posts there are so many knowledgeable and experienced coders/students giving great advice and insight!

So I've been researching about obtaining a certificate as a medical coding specialist from Santa Barbara Community College (SBCC) and I was wondering if anyone is currently a student or have already graduated from the program? If so, what was your take on it, what facility was your practicum site at and how was your experience there? Do you think the practicum could open doors into finding jobs at that site or through other connections? I'm also planning to work full-time and take 12 units per semester. Do you think that is feasible? Or is the course work-load too overwhelming?

Also, I'm mainly interested in becoming a coder in a hospital setting, and I know that along with the required 2 yrs experience, an RHIT and/or CCS credential seem to be desired/required. Should I just get an AS HIT degree instead of the certificate to qualify to sit for the RHIT exam? Or would getting my CCS credential be enough? I also have a B.S. in Biological Sciences if that makes any difference. Thanks in advance for any advice.

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valentine in Salt Lake City, Utah

102 months ago

if your goal is to do inpatient coding, i would recommend (if you have time and money) to just get your degree now, then sit for the RHIT.

i went to school 5 years ago, i was given the option of the degree or the certificate, heck, the certificate was shorter and way cheaper, i chose that. i chose wrong. i have done fine with my certificate, i was fortunate enough to start this career before it became popular so i had no trouble finding a job, i got my CPC certification and am doing very well.

however,i am kinda at am impass, for me to further my career, i need to be at least a RHIT. so now i am going to have to go back to school.

Long story short, i wish i had just got the degree 5 years ago.

if you decide to not get a degree and get your certificate, a CCS should be enough for inpatient coding, however, you definitely need experience and it is hard to get. i would recommend (if possible) try interning or volunteering in a hospitals medical records or billing dept, it will give you experience and hospitals like to promote from within.

once again, probably more than you wanted to know LOL

but i hope it helps

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RHIT in Oregon in Oregon

102 months ago

futurecoder in Modesto, California said: Hello all, just want to start off by saying that I'm really glad I found this forum since after reading many posts there are so many knowledgeable and experienced coders/students giving great advice and insight!

So I've been researching about obtaining a certificate as a medical coding specialist from Santa Barbara Community College (SBCC) and I was wondering if anyone is currently a student or have already graduated from the program? If so, what was your take on it, what facility was your practicum site at and how was your experience there? Do you think the practicum could open doors into finding jobs at that site or through other connections? I'm also planning to work full-time and take 12 units per semester. Do you think that is feasible? Or is the course work-load too overwhelming?

Also, I'm mainly interested in becoming a coder in a hospital setting, and I know that along with the required 2 yrs experience, an RHIT and/or CCS credential seem to be desired/required. Should I just get an AS HIT degree instead of the certificate to qualify to sit for the RHIT exam? Or would getting my CCS credential be enough? I also have a B.S. in Biological Sciences if that makes any difference. Thanks in advance for any advice.

I am graduating from SBCC's HIT program this month. I loved this program, the instructors are very knowledgeable, experienced, and help you every step of the way. I have just finished my practicum at my local hospital and was very impressed (as was my supervisor) with how prepared the program had made me. This is such an important aspect of a good program and I have been offered a job as a result.

SBCC's program is accredited, which allows graduates to sit for the RHIT certification. I will be taking mine in July. I agree with Valentine that the degree is the way to go, with so much competition for jobs it will make you stand out and allow for advancement in the future.

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valentine in Salt Lake City, Utah

102 months ago

RHIT in Oregon in Oregon said: I am graduating from SBCC's HIT program this month. I loved this program, the instructors are very knowledgeable, experienced, and help you every step of the way. I have just finished my practicum at my local hospital and was very impressed (as was my supervisor) with how prepared the program had made me. This is such an important aspect of a good program and I have been offered a job as a result.

SBCC's program is accredited, which allows graduates to sit for the RHIT certification. I will be taking mine in July. I agree with Valentine that the degree is the way to go, with so much competition for jobs it will make you stand out and allow for advancement in the future.

you were offered a job? CONGRATS! and i agree that you seem to be well prepared, i have followed your posts on here and am very impressed with your responses, especially since you are still in school.

definitely agree with the advancement part, while i am extremely experienced and knowledgeable, i will eventually plateau because you can only do so much with just a certificate.

again congrats on your new job, you'll have to let us know how it goes!

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futurecoder in Modesto, California

102 months ago

RHIT in Oregon in Oregon said: I am graduating from SBCC's HIT program this month. I loved this program, the instructors are very knowledgeable, experienced, and help you every step of the way. I have just finished my practicum at my local hospital and was very impressed (as was my supervisor) with how prepared the program had made me. This is such an important aspect of a good program and I have been offered a job as a result.

SBCC's program is accredited, which allows graduates to sit for the RHIT certification. I will be taking mine in July. I agree with Valentine that the degree is the way to go, with so much competition for jobs it will make you stand out and allow for advancement in the future.

Thank you so much for responding. I'm so glad to hear that you had a successful experience with the program! That really gives me hope and encouragement. And congrats having already received a job offer! I guess it's pretty clear that the HIT degree is the way to go. I was really interested in the Coding practicum and taking the advanced coding course (as they are not required in the HIT curriculum) so that's why I wanted to start with the certificate. But, I guess I could always take those two courses after completing the HIT program right? Also, do you think working full-time and taking 12 units per semester is doable? Would there be a way to contact you further about the program?

Thank you Valentine for your insight. I really am starting to see that obtaining all the credentials and education I can will make me more marketable in the long run so I'm seriously considering the degree tract. I'm just hoping I can either get lucky finding a job after I graduate or somehow get my foot in the door so to speak and move my way up. Hopefully, it's the former! :)

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RHIT in Oregon in Oregon

102 months ago

You can always start with the certificate program and then go on to finish out the degree. That way you can begin seeking a coding job through the contacts you will make during the practicum. All but two (advanced coding and the practicum) of the certificate program apply to the degree as well. I took the advanced coding class during my HIT degree.

12 credits is a full-time load...I did it while working but it depends on family commitments etc. You might consider trying 6 credits the first semester to see how it feels for you.

I honestly recommend SBCC...I have read some heartbreaking posts about some schools on this and other forums. The instructors at SBCC are professionals in this field. They will really work with you to finish the program, and to set up a practicum that will probably be your entry into this field.They also go out of their way to post job opportunities that come up in the California area.

Sorry to be so long, I sound like a advertisement LOL! Here is the link to the program specifics www.sbcc.edu/hit/website/index.html

Good luck to you!

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RHIT student in Franklin, Ohio

102 months ago

I also recommend going for the RHIT and if you still want a coding certification then get your CCS. The CCS along with your RHIT certification will look very good on an application.

RHIT in Oregon is a perfect example of really being professional during your practicum. If you work hard and really show them that your interested it will lead to a job opportunity. I'm getting ready to start my first practicum this fall through my school (not SBCC) and I'm very excited.

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futurecoder in Modesto, California

102 months ago

Thanks RHIT student in Ohio and RHIT in Oregon! Wish both of you luck on your careers! Now I feel at peace that I'm choosing the right school from your posts. I know for sure that I will pursue both the RHIT and CCS credentials. I suppose it would be beneficial to go through both the coding and HIT practicums, but I'm just a little worried how long it will take to complete both. Seems like this field (along with most of health care) is becoming oversaturated will new grads so I want to complete the program as early as I can. One question I do have is, if I'm enrolled in the coding program can I still take courses for the HIT program as long as I fulfilled the prereqs? SBCC classes seem to fill up pretty fast and I may not be able to take the prereqs I need to take certain classes.

Also, I found a position I could apply for as a clerk (mainly filing, distributing patient files) in the HIM dept at a hospital, do you think it's worth pursuing to get exposure to the field and possibly contacts? It would require me to cut my hours at my full-time job but I'm willing to if it's worth it in the long run. Sorry for all the questions! You guys are just too helpful! ;p

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RHIT in Oregon in Oregon

102 months ago

The coding certificate program is intended to prepare you for the CCA (entry level) exam. The CCS exam is quite difficult and it is recommended that you have at least 3 years of inpatient and outpatient coding experience before you attempt it. Some hospitals may hire you as a entry level coder with the certificate and the CCA...but most will be looking for at least one year of experience. The advantage of the coding practicum is that the hospital you do it in may hire you based on how well you do during the practicum even if you don't have other experience.

I don't want to discourage you...I just want you to know everything you can before you commit.

I believe you can take the HIT classes even if you are officially enrolled in the coding certificate program. I took a coding class & a couple of Cancer Information management classes that were not part of the HIT sequence. You can contact Dr. Gwyer Schuyler the HIT/CIM Academic Counselor/Dept. Chair at schuyler@sbcc.edu if you would like advising or evaluation of transcripts for prereqs.

The HIT program has coding included in it and some facilities will hire entry level coders with an RHIT and experience. Unfortunately coding is tough to break into unless you start in another position and transfer to coder or are able to get a position through a practicum.

As far as taking a clerk position...it would give you a way to make contacts and gain that 'foot in the door'. Sometimes HIT/Coder jobs are never even posted to the public if it can be filled by a current employee. It would depend if you would lose benefits etc at your current job.

I wish you the best of luck!

Don't hesitate to contact Gwyer with any questions...she is really wonderful to work with.

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futurecoder in Modesto, California

102 months ago

So much to think about! What I am hoping for with the coding practicum is to have at least an opportunity to be offered an entry level job (if all goes well) and then gain the experience I need to take the CCS exam. And while working I'll take the remaining classes needed to complete the degree program and sit for the RHIT exam. It's all a big risk but all I can do is study and work hard and hopefully it'll pay off. I'll definitely contact Dr. Gwyer Schuyler further about the curriculum.

Sorry for bombarding you with questions...but your insight is very valuable to me. :) I just have one more question, other than studying diligently for the courses, how else can one succeed and show their value during the practicum? Any tips or advice on what to expect and what they're looking for in a potential employee? Okay so I guess that was two. haha. Thanks again for all your input.

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futurecoder in Modesto, California

102 months ago

Oh, and about the clerk position...it's per diem so I wouldn't gain any benefits from it and probably lose them if I cut hours from my full-time job. Ugh. Not sure if it's worth it just to get my foot in the door/contacts...although I've been wanting to find a new job for some time now. I could afford to just work the per diem position (which will give me more time to study) but I wonder if that isn't wise in this economy.

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gizmo in Dyer, Tennessee

101 months ago

I wish that i would've found this forum months before I decided to take the coding classes @ UTM. I'm so afaid that i won't pass the cetification and afraid that after spendin the extra $300 that i won't find a job. Does anyone know about the Carol Buck Online Internship? How good is it?

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FutureCoder in Wildomar, California

101 months ago

I've been researching about obtaining a certificate as a medical coder from an accredited college. I live in the surburb and found a lot of online program and I am not sure if the hospital does look at your educational history for hiring. I heard from someone that if take any of those online classes, the HR dept at the hospital just throw those resume out (they don't even look at them). Does anyone work at the hospital and know if this is a true fact. Does anyone live in Murrieta or Temecula know if San Jacinto College provide a coding program through the college and not the adult education? I am looking for a place to take the coding courses nearby my area of residence. Also, I wanted to find out if there are works in the field for medical coding or is the field very saturated and hard to find work once you're done.

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valentine in Salt Lake City, Utah

101 months ago

FutureCoder in Wildomar, California said:

k, first about hospitals and a coding certificate. Hospitals are different from physician offices, they are higher volume, they use more difficult codes and bring in more revenue. All of those things combined makes it so hospitals generally hire people who are certified and have a few years experience. I don't think it is so much the certificate that they don't like, but rather the people who take those programs do not have any experience, are usually not certified and don't know enough about coding yet to do that higher level of difficulty. That being said, there are always exceptions. especially if you do an inter/externship at a hospital, it is very possible you could get hired for a low level coding job. Its not super common, but it does happen. You would probably be better off starting out in a physicians office or some sort of billing office.

If you are heart set on the hospital, you could take a job in the medical records or the billing dept (not doing coding) get your foot in at the hospital, increase your knowledge, network and find out if there are openings in coding.

as far as the job market, its tough for unexperienced and new graduates. The field is only saturated if you are either of those, if you are certified and have 3-4 years experience, there is actually a shortage of those coders. Most of those job stay open for a quite awhile trying to find someone. My current job was open for a year. They couldn't find anyone. You'd think they would just take someone with less experience or not certified, but nope, they don't. which is too bad for all the new graduates.

getting a coding job in a physician office is much the same as the hospital, you might have a hard time finding a job, work in medical records, doing medical data entry or billing and get your experience. and of course, make sure you get a certification, it is near impossible to get a coding job anymore without one.

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valentine in Salt Lake City, Utah

101 months ago

k, it cut me off, I guess I got long winded in my previous answer LOL

It can be hard to break into this field, but once you, it is such a great field with so many opportunities.

Hope that helped

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FutureCoder in Wildomar, California

101 months ago

valentine in Salt Lake City, Utah said: k, it cut me off, I guess I got long winded in my previous answer LOL

It can be hard to break into this field, but once you, it is such a great field with so many opportunities.

Hope that helped

Thank you for your comments, your info. is very helpful to me. I am so afraid to spend the money that I don't have and time and not being able to find work after I take the exam. I have two young children and working as a temp so I was thinking of retrain in the medical field since there seems to be more jobs in that areas.

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Looking forward in Palm Springs, California

81 months ago

I have a few questions for you all, whom have taken the program-

Are the classes at a set time? 5:00 on Tuesdays? or at your schedule?

Also, what was the most difficult part of the program for you?

Do you think this has helped in your work world?

Has this really prepared you for this job?

Are thier support groups? or on line buddies/mentors?

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