Ashley is a certified coding associate who was able to get into the healthcare field remotely with a self-study medical coding program.
With the ongoing pandemic from 2020, more people than ever are looking for legit, work from home jobs. One promising field has been medical billing and coding. But, there are a lot of programs out there; it’s hard to know which to trust especially when you have no experience in billing or healthcare. I was cautiously optimistic when I came across Career Step, but it turned out to be a great decision. So here is a brief overview to help you decide if it’s right for you.
As a reference, I had absolutely no experience in healthcare and was working odd jobs when studying through this Career Step program. But the skills I learned helped me to land a remote medical billing position right away. This is not a sponsored article, just my personal experience.
After inquiring online for more information, you’ll get a call from a Career Step contact for more information about tuition and what discounts are available in your area. The program goes through a community college in your state, which is where your final certification comes through.
The course is done in two parts. You’ll pay half when starting the part one, and the rest a few months later when you start the second half. Classes start about once every month, so you don’t have to wait too long to get started.
Timeline of the course
For the first part of the course, all the books you will need are in electronic format. This half covers insurance basics, the revenue cycle when it comes to medical billing, and medical terminology. The insurance basics may not seem important to the coding aspect, but they are very important when it comes to taking the final certification exams so take good notes. The medical terminology was a little daunting for not having any healthcare training, but if you power through and remember you don’t have to memorize every single term, you’ll be able to get through it.
The second part of the course dives into the coding and is when you’ll get three code books and one study guide. A lot of time is spent getting familiar with how to use the code books and different terms. To finish up the course, you’ll practice coding diagnoses and procedures. One great thing about the program is that you get to count this practice as one year of coding experience, verified by AHIMA and AAPC. This will definitely help on your resume when looking for an entry level billing or coding position. At the end of the course you’ll also get to practice taking the timed, CPC exam.
One important thing to keep in mind, is this course is completely self study. There are no teachers, no in person or virtual classes. It is a structured lesson plan, with some videos, lots of practice quizzes, module exams and final exams for each half. It is a lot of reading. You are given one year to complete the course, so it does take some discipline and planning. I was able to finish in eight months with a one year old at home and working, so it can be done!
Although there are no teachers, there is a student phone line to schedule time to have your questions answered. Through the program website, there is a student discussion board, but in my experience it was not used much. There are however, some private Facebook groups just for Career Step coding students. Those are really great for connecting with other people who started the course around the same time, who can answer questions and share success stories.
Getting started with your new career
After passing the final exam through Career Step, and confirming all modules were completed, you’ll get your certificate of completion from the community college. You’re next step is to schedule the national certification exam, whether you choose the AHIMA CCA exam, or the AAPC CPC exam. Depending on your state and which school your program is through, you may be able to get a voucher or discount to take one of the exams.
Although they don’t provide job placement, the student board provides a lot of resources for searching for a job, plus details to put on your resume that are relevant to the field. Overall it was a great experience, and got me qualified for my dream, work-from-home job. Feel free to ask any questions about the experience below!