How Do I Get Real World Coding Experience?
Laureen: The next question that’s kind of related to this thought—I bumped it up a little bit—how to get real world coding experience. This question actually came from our chat, our Q&A webinar chat that Ruth pulled out for us. She actually came up with some beginning thoughts here that there’s a number of ways some employers will hire a CPC-A. So then you can get your experience the good old-fashioned way by getting that first job. You should apply even if you don’t have the prerequisite years experience. Maybe in the job they’re saying two years experience preferred. It doesn’t mean that you can’t apply. It just says preferred. Sometimes it will say two years experience. But they’ll normally say, “Only apply if you have two years experience.” If they’re truly going to throw out your resume if you don’t meet that, still go ahead and take a chance and apply because you never know.
We’ve talked about this before in the Live with Laureen. There’s this sifting and sorting process that prospective employers go through and you want to give yourself as much points as possible. Think of it like a credit score. How long have you been in your current house? All these add points to make you more desirable in the eye of the potential employer. Maybe you don’t have the experience but maybe you’ve got like experiences or things that could relate to that job that you want to emphasize that on the resume and cover letter.
Have a really good resume and cover letter. That’s so key. A lot of people just think “I’ve got the CPC and that’s my magic ticket to get a job.” No. You still have to sell yourself. You still have to look good on paper and you have to have a really decent-looking resume. Take some time with that. Do some googling. Find some good resume services. We have a free ebook on our site on how to get your first job in medical coding. Even if you already have a job and you’re looking to get a new one, there’s a lot of good tips in there to figure out how to do a cover letter that would get their attention. It’s all about customization. No cookie cutter cover letters. Even your resume. You could do a unique resume for each job you apply for. Nowadays with computers and easily printing things and most job applications being online, why not take the time to tweak it before you send it? You don’t have to have one resume and that’s it, I have to send this one. That summary on the top, make it fit to the job you’re actually applying for.
The next bullet point was AAPC does have an extern program. You might be able to find something in your area. They don’t have it everywhere but it’s worth trying. An externship is normally where you work for experience. You don’t get paid or you get paid very little. Check that out. I know there’s a current problem sometimes with prospective employers because of the HIPAA. The hiring you for free becomes a problem. Don’t get discouraged if that happens. Keep looking. Say, “You can pay me a dollar.” But be aware of that. Check that out. That’s a link there that Lori can share with you on Facebook.
AAPC also has Practicode. Practicode is a product that Aviacode created and AAPC purchased this past summer. They give you experience with real cases that remote coders would do using their system. They’ve got some real-life cases that you could practice on, and the AAPC does waive some of the work experience requirement with that.
Last but not the least, CCO has just launched an internship program. We announced it last week and I’ve gotten over 25 applicants. We’re going to probably limit it to 10 at a time because we really want to make sure we give them good experience. Our internship isn’t really heads-down coding. It’s more writing CEU questions and doing research of answer sheets, creating these diagnostic pearls we call them. There’s a lot of fun stuff to do if you’re at all interested and you are certified. We do want you to at least be certified. If you’re still finishing up school, then wait until you get that certification. Feel free to join our internship program. We normally expect about five to ten hours a week commitment until you reach about 250 hours and then you can re-opt if you want to do more than that.
Alicia: I want to add also that it’s very important to check in with your local AAPC chapter because these are the people, these are your peers, these are the people that know jobs that are out there. They know your personality. They’re word of mouth. As always it’s who you know sometimes. Let them know. “I’m looking to get some experience. Is there an internship or is there a position that is maybe part-time? They just need a little help but they need someone to come in for ten hours a week?” Anything to get your foot in the door. Those are the people that are going to know. So take advantage of your local chapter.
This segment “How Do I Get Real World Coding Experience?” originally aired on Live with Laureen #014 on January 12th, 2017.