There are two paths to becoming a certified medical coder. You can either become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) with the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or a Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
The certification is required for most careers in medical coding. A certification exam if offered through AAPC and AHIMA. Each association offers courses on the exam, resources to find in-person instruction, and networking opportunities. If you are considering a career in medical coding, you are welcomed to attend a meeting in your area to better understand the industry. You can find a local AAPC Chapter here. This is a great opportunity and free for guests!
The career outlook for medical coders is highly positive in any area of the United States! Take a look at AAPC’s graph on salaries.
Medical coders are an important position within the healthcare revenue cycle. Once you’ve gained experience in this area, you might be interested in a related career or a move up the career ladder. AHIMA has created a helpful interactive career map to search these interesting roles.
I became a medical coder in 2012. The most rewarding experience has been encouraging my colleagues whether in the workplace or through AAPC opportunities. Are you interested in this career? I welcome your questions and discussions!
“Medical coding is the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes using ICD 10 CM, CPT, and HCPCS books. The diagnoses and procedure codes are taken from medical record documentation, such as transcription of physician’s notes, laboratory and radiologic results, etc.” American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
This means that each time you see your doctor, the service is assigned a medical code which translates into dollars when billed to the insurance. For example, do you need a cut stitched close? That closure has a specific medical code. Do you need an xray of your arm? That also is a specific medical code. Will you spend the night at the hospital? Again, that is a specific medical code. In order for physicians and hospitals to be paid correctly, the medical coding must be accurate.
Do you remember the last time you were at your doctor’s office or hospital? Do you remember how many people were in the waiting room? You can imagine that they needed services just like you. Each day services are provided which are billed to insurances for payment. These charges must be verified for accuracy and compliance before sending. Who ensures the charges are accurate? Medical coders!
My name is Sofia Colón. I am a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Physician Practice Management (CPPM).
I began my career in healthcare as a Member Service Representative for Kaiser Permanente Health Plan in 2004. After announcing a department closure in 2011, I had the opportunity to re-train for a position in medical coding. That uncertain time in my life was the beginning of a new opportunity and career direction.
I learned to network with my peers, leverage industry resources, and gained confidence in my abilities as a medical coder. Today, I am a Coder Lead in the Professional Coding Support Services department with Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. I’m also near completion of a Healthcare Policy and Administration Bachelor program with Penn State World Campus. I aspire to move up the career ladder within the Kaiser Permanente Revenue Cycle while supporting the Latina Health Information Management (HIM) workforce with the EDGE Mindset professional development program.
Why have I started a blog for EDGE Mindset?
To bring awareness to the need for Latinas in management and leadership positions in the Revenue Cycle
Desire to build a community which supports Latinas in healthcare administration
You’ll find articles, updates on local events, and industry news relevant to Latinas published regularly.
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Comment on posts you find interesting. We will be able to start a conversation around these topics.
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Professional development for Latinas in the Revenue Cycle
EDGE Mindset is a professional development program for Latinas in the Revenue Cycle which teaches to value your experience to develop and grow your career efficiently.
As a Latina, I know my experiences, both in life and career, can be valuable tools in the workplace. How Latinas are raised translates to many skills needed in a multigenerational, team-oriented work environment.
Finding value in our #experience is one principle of EDGE Mindset.
I was deeply effected by a job loss several years ago. Quite frankly, I was angry because I felt I had no control. I was angry that I didn’t have any choices of my own. Although I was a good employee, I hadn’t developed a career plan. I learned from that experience. Intentional and consistent career development is needed in our Latina community. We are 1/3 of the medical coding and HIM staff in California. We make up the largest segment! However, we are seldom in management or leadership positions. Let’s develop our careers!
“Work smarter not harder”, spoken by Allen F. Morgenstern, is a phrase I’ve struggled to understand. LatinX families grow up watching our parents work physically hard. For us, this is the image of success. I understand the physical work my mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother performed in migrant camps and canneries. I watched both of my parents work their full time jobs and then come home to work side businesses. All of this hard work is an image of success to me. Certainly, not failure. In some ways, I’ve felt offended with this phrase because it seems to say that hard work isn’t smart or that a person working hard isn’t smart. In trying to understand this phrase, I found various interpretations. My best understanding is that working smart means to make the most of ones time and energy. It means being efficient.