by Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA
You’ve done it! You’ve studied, sacrificed time and sleep, and hung in there. You’re a graduate and a newly-credentialed Coder – congratulations! Now it’s time for the next step: job hunting, interviewing and hopefully, beginning that new job!
In preparing for interviews it’s important to be proficient in discussing coding and how you might handle this situation or that provider question, but while prepping for those inquiries be sure you don’t forget that it’s also a good idea to do some detective work. No two coding departments are the same even within one multi-hospital system, and the differences expand when you move out into the world of single-facility coding departments.
If you’ve read any job-hunting advice articles, you already know that hiring supervisors and managers are looking for candidates that are a good “fit” in their organization, and there’s no better way to communicate your “fit” in an organization than to have specific knowledge about the facility or department.
Getting this information may not be easy, but it can mean the difference between you and another candidate who took the time to do the sleuthing. What makes this hospital or healthcare organization special among its peers? Do they offer the only high-risk maternity services in the region? Are they a leader in cardiovascular procedures, or do they have a reputation for excellent mental and behavioral health outcomes?
This information should be easy to find with a simple Google search or in the local news. You don’t need to be a scholar on the hospital’s history or recite its latest strategic plan, but you should know enough about your potential employer to communicate that you cared enough to find out.
Once you’ve gathered this initial information you’ll want to see if you can find out about the HIM department. This is where a healthy professional network comes in handy. If you’re not already participating in state and local HIM or Coding meetings and training, this is your call-to-action. I happen to think that next to solid schooling, networking is the best thing you can do for your career.
One caution about this type of information-gathering: you need to make sure you focus on business issues, and not hospital gossip. Information like “I hear you have a long-time Director who is a past-President of AHIMA” is a good piece of information. Mentioning that you know the Director from 3 years ago was fired for misconduct is not.
The other good information you can get in networking groups relates to workload, turnaround times, and the way work is assigned/divided in the department. Remember – you want to communicate that you care enough about getting this job that you were willing to spend your time in activities that are positive and supportive of the profession and are specific to your prospective new employer.
Lastly, don’t look at these tasks as a chore. Make it a game and enjoy it. Who knows – maybe someday you’ll find yourself writing advice to new graduates and you can look back and recall your successes and pass them on to the next generation of Coding professionals. Good luck out there – you’re going to be awesome!
Learn how to correctly apply ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS guidelines to ensure accurate and complete coding:
ICD-10-CM: Selected Guidelines for Coding and Reporting
ICD-10-PCS Guidelines: A Case Study Approach