Thinking of starting a new career in the medical field, but don’t think you have the time or money to spend on the many years of education necessary to join the ranks of doctors and nurses? Interested in working from the comfort of your own home, but tired of finding out that most of the jobs you see every day are scams? If you decide to become a medical coding specialist, you can find a job online or offline, work from home or in an office, and become a part of the medical field with minimal education. This is a great option if what you’re looking for is flexibility.
What Does a Medical Coding Specialist Do?
One of your questions before you get started is probably what a medical coding specialist does in the first place. Medical coding specialists are administrative workers who do behind-the-scenes work for hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies.
Since the many health conditions that are treated in healthcare environments are so complex, and the treatments for them are equally so, medical codes are used to try and summarize the day-to-day business which unfolds. These medical codes provide a common point of reference for doctors, nurses, and insurance company workers so that it is easier to communicate about a patient’s situation. With medical codes, different doctors working on a single patient can understand clearly and objectively what other doctors have recorded about that patient. Insurance companies can understand immediately and comprehensively what the charges billed to them are for.
If you become a certified coding specialist, you’ll be an expert in the medical codes that are used in the industry. Current knowledge of these codes allows you to translate the business of a medical environment into a simple language which can be used to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. Perhaps the most prominent of those tasks is billing. This is the reason you usually see medical billing and coding mentioned as if they were one and the same, though they really are two different jobs. Medical billers are reliant upon medical coders to pass along the codified information for the bills they need to send out to patients and insurance companies.
There are many benefits to becoming a medical coder. One is that you get to play a role in the medical world without spending as much time or money on your education as you would if you decided to get a job where you work directly with patients in a medical capacity. You still get to make a difference by helping to simplify and streamline clinic operations, however, and that is very important for some people.
Another benefit of becoming a medical coder is that this is a job that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates is growing much faster than average. There should be a lot of demand for this position in the years ahead, which may give you a more secure job, particularly since people will always need medical care, and doctors and nurses will always need to get paid. Medical coders play a necessary role and thus will always be needed so long as the medical system works the way it does.
There’s one more major advantage to becoming a medical coder, which is that you may be able to work at home. If it’s important to you to set your own hours, work in a comfortable environment, spend time with your family, and run your own life, you can do so if you find a medical coding position online. Most work at home jobs are scams, but medical coding jobs are real. It can be truly rewarding to call the shots in your professional life.
Becoming a Medical Coding Specialist
If you wish to become a medical coding specialist, you do have some work ahead of you, although not nearly as much as you would for some other medical professions. To become a coder, you need to learn the codes that are used in clinical settings, and that means you’re going to need to take training courses to become certified. Certification demonstrates to a potential employer (and to yourself) that you have the knowledge needed to perform your job, and that your knowledge is current.
To become certified you will need to take the exam offered by the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), or the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). There are no other organizations that currently offer the official exam. Most students study for a year or two in order to pass the exam, though how long or short a time you need will depend a lot on your personal schedule and dedication.
You can even attend classes online if you don’t have the time or money to spend at a vocational school offline. Studying online makes it easier to balance your education with a full-time or part-time job, and also reduces costs. Make sure you research the programs you’re looking into very thoroughly and check for references. While there are a lot of excellent programs, there are also some scams, being as medical coding is becoming a popular way to make a living.
A career as a medical coding specialist is a great choice if you want to work in the medical field in an administrative capacity, and you want a job which is going to be in demand in the years to come. One of the biggest reasons to consider medical coding as your specialty is the work at home opportunities which it affords to you. Medical billing is also a great choice, and you probably should look into both before you make up your mind. Medical coding is ideal if you are attentive to detail, prefer a behind-the-scenes role with minimal contact with customers, and you enjoy working a support capacity. Medical coding and billing jobs offer a relatively wide salary range, and as you gain experience you should find your opportunities expanding.