Medical coders are vital members of the Health Information Management (HIM) occupational cluster. The Medical Coding Specialist Certificate Program provides a study of the skills necessary to assess healthcare documentation and determine the appropriate classification of code assignment and sequencing in accordance with the Coding Clinic Guidelines. The codes are used for statistics, research, and reimbursement of services rendered. This program includes courses recommended by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The program curriculum contains a study of Fundamental Applications of HIM, Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, specific courses on assigning International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS) codes, and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes, as well as a component of medical insurance and billing.
Medical coders are employed by various healthcare organizations such as hospitals, physicians' offices, clinics, dental offices, governmental facilities, and insurance companies. Experienced medical coders can work as independent contract coders.
Medical Coding courses are offered in a variety of traditional and non-traditional formats, including online, hybrid, Fastrack (8-week courses), and evening options. Most traditional courses are offered Monday through Thursday in the evenings.
Starting the Program
Students interested in the Medical Coding Specialist Program are required to meet with the Program Coordinator before beginning the program. This step is required prior to enrollment in HIM 1453 Anatomy and Physiology for Health Information Management. Students may contact the Program Coordinator, Susan Whatley, at email@example.com for additional information and to schedule an appointment.
Students should begin their coursework by taking HSC 1531 Medical Terminology and should note that this course requires placement at the college level or satisfaction of developmental education requirements in reading and writing prior to enrollment.
Additional Program Requirements
Students should be aware that employment in the healthcare field usually involves national background screening as well as drug screening by the employing facility.
Students who have specific conviction histories that might appear in a national background screening should be proactive in obtaining a background check prior to enrolling in the program. This should be discussed further with the Program Coordinator at the pre-enrollment appointment.
Additionally, facilities that students visit during HIM 2810L Coding Application Practicum may require any or all of the following:
- Completion of a comprehensive physical examination.
- Completion of all required immunizations.
- Completion of a drug screening.
- Completion of the national background screening.
Specific conviction histories or positive drug screenings occurring after a student begins the program are addressed according to department policy and may include dismissal from the program.
Salary potential and wage information are available through the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics at: www.bls.gov/ooh, or via www.salary.com. Salaries vary depending on geographical location, type of facility, and years of experience.
Graduates passing the AHIMA certification examination(s) are designated Certified Coding Associates (CCA) or Certified Coding Specialists (CCS).
Graduates passing the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) certification examination are designated Certified Professional Coders (CPC).