Elimination of AAPC Apprentice Credential

Elimination of AAPC Apprentice Credential

Good Morning

This future of CPC credentialing has come to my attention this morning. I am near a state of full-blown panic attack. My name is Alicia, and have taken the CPC once did not pass. My expiration date is Sept 2012 for my free retake.

Now, I have to pay 35$ for 20 clinical exam senarios, non-multiple choice.
Take CPC 150 question exam and 20 question exam in the same 5.40 time limit.
Pass the clinical portion with 90% which is 18 out of 20 correct.

Do you think you can find out more about this? Maybe construct a review module to assist with the studying of this new clinical exam portion.

It just so happens I came across your site last week by goofing around and searched medical billing and coding in YouTube. I signed up to join your site and will be purchasing your Blitz this Friday.

I am extremely confident and optimistic for the purpose of coming across your valuable, extensive, professional knowledge of the coding industry.

Thank-you so very much for giving back to us “newbies.”

( Enclosed is the article)

Letter from the Chairman and CEO (Jan 2012)

Elimination of “A” Designation

The Apprentice designation is not needed anymore.

The National Advisory Board (NAB) has recommended, and the AAPC leadership team has discussed and agreed, that the Certified Professional Coder-Apprentice (CPC-A) credential has outlived its usefulness. The objective of the apprentice (A) designation was to show others—primarily prospective employers—an individual had passed the CPC exam, but did not yet have one or two years of on-the-job experience. Instead, it was too often preventing most CPC-As from getting interviews for potential jobs and hurting their prospects.

We believe the résumé indicating the experience level of an individual should speak for itself. Whether the individual has great aptitude, a terrific work ethic, good people skills, or any other desirable attribute is often never discovered because an interview was unable to be obtained. While we still believe experience is needed to become a good coder, we think it should be the employer’s decision who to hire.

Accordingly, AAPC is accepting comments through Jan. 31, 2012 on the following proposal:

Effective July 1, 2012, the CPC-A credential will no longer be granted. All current CPC-As would have their “A” removed by doing one of the following:

Getting at least one year of on-the-job experience no later than Dec. 31, 2013 (helpful to those with a job and currently working towards that end), or Successfully passing a clinical exam consisting of coding 20 operative/office notes

Thus, no current CPC-A would be “grandfathered” into the CPC credential.
Those taking the CPC exam after July 1, 2012 will have two ways to get their CPC credential.

They can have one year of coding experience prior to taking the CPC exam (proof given at time of exam application), and then pass the CPC exam, or

They can pass both the current CPC exam and clinical exam by successfully coding 20 operative/office notes. On-the-job experience after taking the CPC exam will not be required.

It does not matter in which order the two exams are taken; if lacking prior experience, both are required to become a CPC.

The pass rate for the CPC exam will stay the same and a 90 percent pass rate on the clinical exam will be required. The 90 percent will be determined by correctly coding 18 of the 20 notes (and most will require multiple codes). The clinical exam will not be multiple choice; it will be free form and hand graded.

The clinical exam will include a sampling of office visits, surgical notes, evaluation and management (E/M) coding, ancillary services, modifier usage, and diagnosis coding.

The clinical exam would be taken at any AAPC proctored exam site. The same five hours and 40 minutes time restriction and code books will be allowed into this exam. If additional resources beyond code books are needed to properly code the notes, that information will be provided as part of the exam.

Both exams will be paid for at the same time and the cost for both exams will increase by $35. Applicants may still take each exam twice to pass it. If the examinee has one year experience, then he or she would pay only the CPC exam price. If one exam is passed after two attempts, but not the other, then the fee for the exam not passed would be paid to re-take it.

Of course, current CPCs are not affected by this change. As stated above, we would appreciate comments to this important change to our credentialing program through Jan. 31, 2012. You may go to www.aapc.com/cpc-acomment to submit your comment. From those comments we will either proceed ahead, make modifications that strengthen the change, or slow down the change due to legitimate concerns that AAPC has not properly considered.

Hi Alicia,

First of all please don’t panic. Changes always happen in the professions so you might as well get used to it . Per the letter from Reed in the January AAPC magazine this is a proposal – not a final decision – that was open for comment until yesterday. The final decision will be announced soon I’m sure.

The gist is if you have one year’s experience you take the regular CPC Exam as it is known today and earn the CPC credential if you pass.

If you don’t have the one years experience then you will need to take an additional “practical” exam.

If you are already a CPC-A you will need to submit proof of one years experience or take the new “practical exam”

The “A” has caused a lot of pain for new coders and I for one think this proposal is a good change. I especially respect the AAPC for asking for comments before rendering a final decision.

As far as CodingCertification.Org creating a prep for the new practical exam we have something in the works. We had already been planning this “advanced” coding course before this announcement. And fortunately it will be a perfect prep for this new “practical” exam.

I hope that helps. If you (or anyone reading this) has any questions please comment below and I’ll do my best to answer or find someone that knows the answer.

Happy Coding!

4 thoughts on “Elimination of AAPC Apprentice Credential”

  1. How does affect the new coders who are not taking the CPC examination?
    What happens to the ones taking the CCA and the CCS?

    • Hi Carolyn – the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is separate from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). They each have their own medical coding exams and rules for each. So the CPC Apprentice changes will NOT affect the AHIMA credentials CCA and CCS. I hope that helps! Happy coding!

  2. Hi, Laureen,

    I understand that this post was written more than a year ago, but I was wondering if this proposal actually pushed through? I just got my CPC-A certificate last week, and wasn’t aware of this clinical exam portion that could take the “A” designation out of the CPC-A if we successfully pass it.

    • No this did not go through so you still need to have 2 years work experience or one year plus a course to get rid of the A. Here is a quote from the AAPC Site http://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc.aspx

      Due to the level of expertise required of medical coders, AAPC expects certified coders to be able to perform not only in an exam setting but also in the real world. In addition to passing the certification exam, coders will also be required to demonstrate on-the-job coding experience. Those who pass the CPC®, CPC-H® and/or CPC-P® exams but have not yet met this requirement will be designated as an Apprentice (CPC-A®, CPC-H-A® and/or CPC-P-A®) on their certificate.

      CPC-A®, CPC-H-A®, or CPC-P-A® Status: Members with an Apprentice designation are required to submit annual CEUs while completing the coding job requirement.

      Requirements for Removal of Apprentice Designation:

      To remove your apprentice designation via on-the-job experience, you must obtain and submit two letters of recommendation verifying at least two years of on-the-job experience (externships accepted) using the CPT®, ICD-9-CM, or HCPCS Level II code sets. One letter must be on letterhead from your employer*, the other may be from a co-worker. Both letters are required to be signed and will need to outline your coding experience and amount of time in that capacity. Download our Apprentice Removal Template for easier submission. Letterhead and signatures are still required when using this template.


      Submit proof showing completion of at least 80 contact hours of coding education AND one letter, on letterhead, signed from your employer verifying one year of on-the-job experience (externships accepted) using the CPT, ICD-9-CM, or HCPCS Level II code sets.

      Send proof of education in the form of a letter from an instructor on school letterhead stating the 80 contact hour course has been completed, a certificate/diploma stating at least 80 contact hours, or a school transcript.

      Once ALL apprentice removal requirements have been met, you may submit them via fax, mail, or scanned email. Please allow 2-4 weeks for processing.


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