I began my career working for a small-town family practitioner. He was rebuilding his private practice after spending many years working in a trauma center. Initially, I was his only employee and responsible for many aspects of the practice – running the front desk, rooming patients and assisting with procedures. As his practice grew and we added additional staff, I was elevated to role of office manager. Billing and coding at that time was very different than it is today. We did not have electronic health records (EHRs) or the technology to submit medical claims electronically. I worked side by side with the physician to determine correct codes and entered the data on paper claims that were mailed to insurance carriers. That early exposure to the world of coding sparked a desire to learn more and propelled me down a path I did not anticipate at the time.
After that first small practice I worked for another larger practice where I witnessed the implementation of EHRs and the use of clearinghouses to forward medical claims via the internet. While these advances have helped streamline coding processes, coders must still adhere to their professional standards and ensure the accuracy of everything they submit. It was while working with these new technologies that I realized I wanted to take my coding expertise to a higher level and obtain my certification. After researching the different avenues to becoming a CPC, I decided to tackle it through a self-study course. I joined a local AAPC chapter to take advantage of the networking opportunities and get to know the members since that is where I would be taking the exam – the five hour and forty minute exam. After months of preparation and convincing myself I still wasn’t ready, the clock was ticking and it was time to sit for the exam. Looking back, I realize how helpful it was to be in a familiar setting and with people I knew on that stressful day. I used almost all of the allotted time checking and rechecking my answers before submitting the exam. It was a couple of anxiety riddled weeks before I learned my fate. I passed!
Earning the CPC certification has opened many doors for me. I advanced from medical coding to auditing and chart abstraction. In April 2016 I earned the instructor certification and now get to share my passion for coding with others as they work towards their own certification.
What’s your CPC story?