Medical Coding Education & Experience — Eliminate the “Scarlett A”

Medical Coding EducationThere has been much discussion on whether to keep or eliminate the CPC-A designation – in some circles referred to as the “Scarlett A.” In January, the AAPC proposed elimination and then asked for comment. Those comments are what prompted them to consider leaving things alone – at least for now.

67% of respondents did not agree with the proposal (this included many CPC-A’s.). 33% voted to keep it.

The AAPC still holds that it believes a résumé revealing the experience level of an individual should speak for itself.  AAPC expects CPC coders to perform not only in an exam setting, but to also demonstrate coding experience (or an ability to code real-world cases) before receiving the full CPC credential.

So, until more research is done, the CPC-A designation will continue.

What is the CPC-A?

While full CPC certification requires two years of relevant work experience, the AAPC will grant apprentice status (CPC-A) to individuals who pass the exam, but do not yet have the necessary work experience.

How do I get rid of the CPC®-A?

In order to remove the “A” designation, the AAPC reports that one of the following two is needed:

  • Two letters of recommendation verifying two years of on the job experience using the CPT, ICD-9-CM, or HCPCS code sets. One letter must be on letterhead from your employer. Both letters are required to be typed and signed and will need to outline your coding experience and amount of time in that capacity.
  • Submitting proof of a minimum of 80 hours of coding education and one letter on letterhead from your employer verifying one year of on the job experience using the CPT, ICD-9-CM or HCPCS code sets. Proof of education may be sent in the form of a letter from an instructor on school letterhead stating the amount of contact hours earned, a certificate/diploma stating at least 80 contact hours or a school transcript.

Verification can be mailed or faxed to the AAPC’s direct office. Once the items are received and accepted, the apprentice will have the “A” removed from their credential and will become a CPC.

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