by Mary Beth York, CCS, CCS-P, CIC
I recently heard from a past student to share with me her good news: she passed the CCS exam! It was not an overnight process. She worked hard, her skills progressed along her career path, and she is now where she wants to be. With her permission, I would like to share with you her story. (Her words in italics.)
Starting in the medical field as a medical transcriptionist, I had the unique opportunity to take a medical coding course offered by Libman Education taught by Mary Beth York a few years ago.
Being a medical transcriptionist is a great preparation for being a coder. You know medical terminology. You know how hospitals work and how patients move through the evaluation and treatment processes. You are part of the revenue cycle team.
It can also be true for other health care professionals in fields tangentially related to coding: release of information, patient accounts, billing, even nursing. Sometimes people are ready for their next career and sometimes coding is a great option.
The key is to build on your current knowledge and experience and learn the coding systems required for the job you want: every HIPAA-compliant patient care setting utilizes ICD-10-CM for diagnosis coding; physician services and hospital outpatient are coded using the CPT coding system; and ICD-10-PCS is used to capture procedures performed in the inpatient hospital setting.
After completing the medical coding course, I was ready to prep for the CCA. While continuing to work as a remote medical transcriptionist, I took Libman’s CCA prep and passed the CCA feeling confident and prepared.
Credentials are important in the coding profession. They demonstrate your commitment to the profession and your knowledge. The CCA is considered an entry-level credential and appropriate for someone new to coding. The CCA lays the groundwork for a coder’s eventual progression to the CCS which is AHIMA’s mastery-level coding credential.
I was then hired into a company offering a Coder Apprentice Program and remote on-the-job training. I am now an Inpatient Coder and have been employed with the same company for 2 years.
She took ownership of her career: moving out from the increasingly limited opportunities in transcription, sought training in coding, took a new job and continued to improve her skills and increase her knowledge. She learned how to read a record, how to apply her foundational knowledge of Anatomy & Physiology, Medical Terminology, Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology to understand what the documentation meant and how to translate the medical information into coded data accurately and completely.
When she was ready, and had the depth of understanding and broad experience from working as an inpatient coder for two years, she approached the CCS challenge with commitment and determination.
I enrolled in Libman’s CCS Prep Course January of this year under the instruction of Mary Beth once again. The course was tough with many hours of hard work involved but entirely worth it! After several months of intensive course work and studying, I passed the CCS exam!
She was a great student: did her assignments, came to class with questions, and really put forth the effort. When she took the CCS, she did well. She is now fully credentialed, fully experienced as a coder, and ready to follow her career path wherever it may lead.
The lesson, I hope, to be drawn from this one person’s experience is that it takes time to reach your goals. We all know someone who passed the CCS without work experience but taking shortcuts may shortchange you in the long term. I believe it is the combination of work experience as a coder with the hard work necessary to achieve the CCS that creates the firmest foundation for a coding career.