Linda Charlwood is excited to share the news that she has just started working as a Coding Specialist I for Halifax Health in Daytona Beach, FL. She started there last month, but before this job she did medical billing for a different hospital for two years.
Medical Coder Profile: Linda Charlwood
We sat down with Linda to find out what makes her tick. Here’s what she had to say:
Do you use paper manuals or online encoders? Both. My current role is coding the E/M levels and procedures for the ER physicians – ProFee, so I assign the levels without an encoder. I review the documentation and records and assign the appropriate E/M level and procedures on the ProFee side.
What are your thoughts about specialty credentialing? It’s a good idea because it pushes you to study the specialty and then test to prove to employers that you are proficient in that area. The down side is that the tests are expensive for people just starting out in the field and it can be tough to pay for the books, supplies, memberships, etc.
Do you feel the AAPC is doing enough in the specialty fields by adding the auditing, compliance and practice management credentials? I am an AHIMA member with a CCS certification. However, I have looked into the possibility of obtaining an AAPC certification as well – CPB and CPMA. I do think it’s a good idea to have these. I like the idea of the certifications helping newer people break into the field by showing a certain level of proficiency. It also shows the employer that you are dedicated and take your career seriously.
Tell me about your experience with CodingCertification.org. I first came across CCO on YouTube while studying for the CCS, I didn’t purchase any medical coding courses at that point but then I got an interview to code (the job I currently have) and I needed to quickly brush up on E/M. I purchased the “Blitz” and then continued to use it to study the CPT part of the CCS. I am glad I did so because there were a lot of CPT questions on the CCS, and if I had not been prepared for that I might not have passed. I had focused so much on the ICD-9 parts and the guidelines (which you absolutely have to do) that I almost neglected to prepare for the CPT! I also love the webinars, help boards and networking. And, they offer CEUs – that’s even better!
What do you like most about medical coding? I love that it’s like a puzzle. You have to take all the elements of a patient’s medical record into consideration and then paint a picture for the insurance company with codes. The day flies by and it’s fun and interesting.
What is your best advice for people getting started in their careers? An internship is crucial and you need to make the most of it. Be proactive. Ask questions and ask for work. When my internship officially ended, this employer allowed me to work on special projects from home. I added all of this to my resume. I then prepared for the CCS and went on my first coding job interview right before I took the test. I passed the test and called the hospital I had interviewed with and told them I had passed and they offered me the job. There is a progression. If you follow it, you can be successful.
What are your future career goals? To keep moving forward. My current employer will allow me to work from home in about a year doing in-patient coding, and perhaps some auditing.
What are your hobbies? I love to read and collect first editions and autographed copies of my favorite books. I love searching for them as much as reading them. I also spend as much time with my dog – my best friend, Peanut. She is my ultimate reason for wanting to work from home.
How does your personality help you in your job? To get started in this field, you need perseverance and dedication. I’m an extremely focused and dedicated individual and that has helped me to hone my skills, get certified and to set my sights on achieving a goal. This was a midlife career change midlife for me; I just wish I had gotten started years ago. It’s all worth it in the end…don’t give up.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself. I still have a baby tooth! You can see it in the picture – LOL!