CPC-A Apprenticeship Removal: What Exactly Counts and Why?
This next question, Lori, I think you helped a lot with as far as putting the questions in.
These were the two related questions:
“What exactly counts for the CPC apprentice ‘A' removal and why?”
“Why don’t the CCO Blitzes count for an apprentice ‘A' removal? I’m spending a lot of hours watching CCO Blitz videos. I think it should count towards removal of the apprentice ‘A'.”
Did you want to share what you learned today, Lori?
Lori: Well, after talking to the AAPC today, Rachel and Wendy were very helpful in explaining that an 80-hour equivalent means a full course all done at once. It can’t be broken up which is what this Blitz is. It’s just a review, it’s not a full course and it’s for CEU. CEU courses don’t count towards the 80-hour equivalent. So that’s how they explained it to me today.
Laureen: The idea is with the full course, you are really immersing yourself in the – I know our Blitz customers immerse themselves. I’m not saying that they don’t, but there’s textbook reading, there’s homework assignments that you have to hand in. With the Blitzes, it's really a high-level review of the topics. There isn’t homework. There isn’t exercises that you’re doing. It might have review questions but they’re not geared the way the courses are. So, that’s the difference.
Now, what exactly counts for a removal? I have a link here to the AAPC website. What I can do is grab this and, well, it’s here. It will bring you to this page here, “Say goodbye to your ‘A’”. So, you know, AAPC is a business and they’ve got Practicode so they’re going to be promoting that.
But that’s not the only way. I mean, I tell everybody and I really believe this, don’t worry about the apprentice “A”. It bothers us more than it does a prospective employer. Because why are we getting credentialed in the first place? To help us get better jobs or get new jobs; and for our own selves, you know, prove to ourselves that we know our stuff. The apprentice “A” can be ascertained by reading a resume. A prospective employer can read a resume and know if you have experience or not. They don’t need the apprentice status to tell them that.
So that is why I tell you not to worry about that. In some prospective employers, there’s so many credentials out there. They don’t know that it's even a negative thing. I mean, there was CPC-H which meant hospital. There was CPC-I – that means instructor. Then CPC-A. Okay, so that’s supposed to be less than but I and H is more than? Some prospective employers are really in the know on all the credentials. But a lot of them aren’t. They just want to know that you’re certified and they’re looking for CPC. So if they see CPC-A and now if they ask you, then you tell them what it means. But you don’t have to broadcast it and make it in big letters “apprentice” on your resume.
So this is right from the AAPC website. A lot of times on Facebook groups, in our group – oops. Not right now. Don’t turn me off. Can you still hear me?
Lori: I can hear you.
Laureen: Okay. Don’t show again. You know, they ask a lot of questions that are already on the site. So I want to show you. This is how I found this exact page. Now, I could go clicking around and looking at the menu items. I think it should be here. But I show this trick a lot on our webinars and it’s something I learned in designing the web pages and stuff for the websites I’ve done over the years. If you come to Google or if it’s built into your URL bar like mine, type whatever word you want. So I’m going to put “A removal.” Then you type the word “site”, S-I-T-E like website. Then colon (:) and whatever website you want it to search. AAPC.com, CCO.us, CMS.gov – you get the idea. You do not use the www. Just put the name. So I have AAPC.com. Here are some examples:
site:aapc.com “your search term” (no quotes)
site:cco.us “your search term” (no quotes)
site:cms.gov “your search term” (no quotes)
Lori: This was actually your first advice to me, was learning how to search Google.
Laureen: There you go.
Lori: It’s the best advice you ever gave me. Now I’m a whiz.
Laureen: I’m telling you it saves you – Be your own consultant. Find your own answer. So all I wrote was “A removal site:AAPC.com”. I know it’s got to be on the site somewhere. So I hit enter and it basically… very first page is what I wanted. And then, oh, there’s discussion on their discussion board about it. There’s something in the employment forum. So more than the official article, there’s many other things. This is how we do a lot of our research to answer your questions that you give us, okay?
Now let’s see what happens if I switch this to CCO.us. I don’t know what it's going to bring up, let’s see. Foreign body removals. That’s not quite what we were looking for. Obviously, that’s not going to be on CMS. But you can see how you can keep the same phrase. So, the key is you have a space between whatever your search phrase is and the word “site:” and the website. There is no space after the word “site:”. It’s altogether, okay? So that’s very cool. We use this all the time to find our own information on our site. Like I said, I know we answered that. I know I have something on Mohs. So like I’ll come here and I’ll type in “Mohs site:CCO.us”. Boom, 76 hits on our website alone. So here’s where we discussed it in our forum, Q&A. You get the idea.
Now I can switch it to AAPC.com and we can see information on that as well. So yeah, obviously, select the site you’re using, make sure it’s an authoritative site. But that’s a great way to do research. So that’s how I found the page for the apprentice removal for the AAPC.
So this is what they’re saying.
“To remove your apprentice designation via on-the-job experience, you must obtain and submit two letters of recommendation verifying at least 2 years of on-the-job experience.”
They do accept externships or where you’re basically an intern using the three coding manual code sets. One letter must be on letterhead from your employer. The other may be from a coworker. Experience includes time coding for previous employer and prior certification. Both letters are required to be signed and need to outline your coding experience and amount of time in that capacity. And they have this removal template that you can check out. It’s just basically a form letter that they’re helping you. Print it out, fill in the formation or just copy and paste and put it on your letterhead document, whatever. And that’s all they need. They’re not trying to make it super hard for you.
Now if you don’t have the two years of work experience, it says submit proof showing completion of at least 80 contact hours of a coding preparation course. And that’s what Lori was referring to. Not Blitz Reviews. Not review classes. Not CEU classes, but a full course. That’s what this is talking about. We give our students when they graduate a letter of completion so that they can use it for this purpose. How do you get that letter of completion? You need to successfully finish each module and get at least a 70% on the exams. Every single one. So, we have some people, “Well, I just want to take the second half of the course.” Well that’s fine but we can’t give you a certificate of completion. So if you really need that for whatever purpose, then you need to do all of the modules. Now you can test out some, like we’ve got nurses taking our course. So for medical terminology, they’ll just take the test and if they get over a 70 then they can move on. That’s allowed.
Anyone can take the exam. You don’t have to have the experience first. A lot of people have that misunderstanding. They think when they first read and they’re brand-new looking into coding and they read about the test, because I get these 20-minute consultations that I do all the time and they’re like, “But I don’t have the experience so I can’t take the test.” I’m like, “You don’t need experience to take the test.” They’ll just give you an apprentice letter “A” on the end of your certification letters. Not an “A” as in passing, but an “A” as in apprentice. That’s it. You wait until you either do the two years of work or you take the letter from us for your course and that’s one year, and you need to work just one year instead of two. And now of course they have got Practicode which they will accept and with that waive I think one of your years, yeah.
So there’s lots of different ways but the bottom line for me is, I say let your apprentice “A” fall off naturally. Just work and it will come off. If you’re looking for a job and it’s hard for you to get a job, focus on places where they are considering newly certified people. Like risk adjustment right now, they do tend to consider the newly certified. It’s not impossible. I see it on the discussion boards, our discussion board, the AAPC Facebook Group. There are people getting jobs. So, they are out there and there are employers that will work with you. A lot of it too, is how your resume and cover letters look and most of all your attitude –
Lori: Yeah. Work type.
Laureen: Yeah. And how you sound when you sound talk. I find some people have like almost an entitlement attitude. “I finished the course. The world should want me now.” It doesn’t work like that in any field. I don’t care if it’s hairdressing or whatever you go for. That first job is always hard to get. But you can get it, you just have to keep trying.
Lori: Networking at your local AAPC chapter meetings. They offer jobs. You show them that you know your stuff, they may consider you.
Laureen: Yup, definitely.