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Until You get that First Job: Advice for the New Coder

Until You get that First Job: Advice for the New Coder

by Angela Lehoux, BS, CDIP, CCS, CIC, CPC-I

Graduating with a degree in HIM. Completing a certificate program in coding. Passing a national coding credential exam like the CCA. These are huge accomplishments marking the beginning of a coder’s career. These milestones deserve to be celebrated!

The next phase, where you will be able to put your training and preparation to use, requires that you land your first coding job. Easier said than done. It takes a combination of perseverance, creativity, and being in the right place at the right time to get your foot in the door. While waiting can be a time of frustration, just know that it has always been the case that the first job is the hardest to get.

It is how you wait that will make the difference between you and competition. Passive waiting takes the form of waiting by the phone wondering why no one is calling. Active waiting takes the form of skill-sharpening preparation. Here’s how:

  1. First review, review, and review again the guidelines. New ones are published each year, you cannot afford to be unaware of the changes.
  2. Spend quality time with your coding books. Read the codes and study the rules and the exceptions. Dive deep to understand the logic behind the structure. Codes are your tools; you will use them your entire career. There is plenty of information in those coding books, right at your finger tips.
  3. Take coding courses to deepen your knowledge. There is always something new to learn and master.
  4. Look for opportunities to practice coding. If you are working in a hospital, ask if you can try your hand in applying codes (on your own time of course and structured to minimize any disruption to the work of others).
  5. There are many blogs available specific to coding or to the coding profession. Keeping current with coding topics will give you something to talk about in your interviews. Libman Education offers a great blog for coders and subscribing is free.

My advice: be patient, be optimistic, and be persistent. The great thing about first jobs – you only ever have one.


Certified Coding Associate (CCA) Exam Review
The CCA credential exhibits your commitment to the coding profession and demonstrates your coding competencies across all settings – including hospitals and physician practices. This course provides valuable study and test-taking strategies. Those who successfully complete this course are eligible for 8 AHIMA CEUs. For more information, click here.

About the Author

Angela Lehoux, BS, CDIP, CCS, CIC, CPC-I
With over 25 years of experience in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room coding, Angela is an Education Specialist, Instructor and Director of Education for Libman Education. Angela teaches Libman Education’s Medical Coder Career Program (MCCP), courses on ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS, and courses for the CCA, CCS, CIC, and COC credentials. Angela holds a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management, Certified Coding Specialist, Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner from AHIMA, Certified Inpatient & Outpatient Coder and the Certified Professional Coder Instructor certifications from AAPC.

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