Medical coders play an important role in the health care industry. The job of a medical coder involves maintaining and coding patient records, which must be done using special computer software. Because of the complexity of medical coding, as well as strict federal and insurance regulations, a good medical coder training program should be completed before attempting to enter this career.
Choosing the best medical training requires some basic knowledge about what medical coding involves. Once this is understood a prospective student should look for a program that will provide courses that cover the essential knowledge for this job, as well as prepare the student for any exams that lead to certification as a medical coder. Because certification will likely lead to higher pay it is beneficial to choose a medical coder training that will cover all aspects of the certification exam.
Medical coder training programs vary, and students should choose the option that works best for their career goals. Programs generally last one to two years, and typically result in a certificate or an associate's degree. In order to maintain certification, a coder must complete continuing education courses on a yearly basis. There are also programs available for medical coders who are currently working in the field without certification.
Training in the U.S. takes place at vocational colleges, some universities, online programs, and traditional correspondence classes in which books are sent to a student and work is completed individually. A certificate in medical coding, or an associates offered at some institutions. Often times medical coding and billing are combined, which prepares the student even more and makes a person more desired job candidate.
Distance Education and Training Council in the U.S. accredits distance education programs. This is a good starting point for searching for an accredited medical coder training program. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPA) is a large organization that provides training and continuing education for medical coders.
Medical coder training involves the study of anatomy, diseases, and pharmacology. Computer and communication skills are also very important in this field and should be covered in the course work. It is helpful to have knowledge of biology as well as medical care procedures, as this might help a student advance in the field at some point. Courses covering these topics are often offered as continuing education courses.
In New Zealand, courses cover similar material, and students are expected to sit for an in-depth examination. Certification is required to work as a medical coder. This is also the case in Australia where prospective coders can check with the Health Information Management Association of Australia Ltd.
Medical coders have the ability to work in various locations, such as hospitals, clinics, doctor offices, private companies, and at times they can work from home. The percentage of coders who actually work from home is very low because it is difficult to obtain clients and gain enough experience to make this possible, and then profitable. Be wary of any program that states that you will be able to work from home, as this is not the norm among medical coders. Medical coding offers decent pay, job stability, and the opportunity for advancement in the field.