Advice for the aspiring coder

June 14, 2019 / By Cecilia Charles, RHIA

Can you remember when you began your journey in the HIM coding world? Well, it’s truly been a while for me. Over the years, I have been a leader, instructor and mentor to newbies seeking to enter the field. I’m often asked for advice like, “Where should I go to get additional training?” or “Are there are any facilities that will hire someone without coding experience?” Many years ago, it was easier for students to get on-the-job coder training and be successful. Employers would reach out to coding schools and offer training in the hopes of finding a “diamond in the rough.”

Recently, I received a message from an acquaintance who was in one of these coding programs. This person is no longer employed at the facility after completing the training and has not been successful in gaining certification. So, that’s when questions arise like “Do you know anyone who will hire a coder lacking certification?” or “Where can I find someone willing to mentor a coder in training?”

Most employers will ask the following questions:

  • Why do you want to be coder? What made you choose coding?
  • What training have you received? Formal, in-classroom setting or through online coding training programs?
  • What additional training have you had? Certifications, continuing education, etc.
  • Have you had any work history in coding?

My advice tends to cover the basics, such as:

  • Attend local chapter meetings. This offers an opportunity for networking and the possibility of meeting experienced coders who would be open to mentoring.
  • Join coding organizations. Many offer career sites that list open positions for experienced and new coders.
  • Subscribe to professional periodicals. It’s important to stay informed about coding updates and changes.
  • Attend coding seminars. Ongoing education offers new insights into specialties.
  • Take online coding assessments. This helps keep coding skills sharp.

In today’s coding environment, ongoing maintenance of your coding education is a must. Newbies must be willing to put in the time and effort to sharpen skills.

Even in the world of computer-assisted coding, the healthcare industry continues to need coders. Every coder should use continuing education to further develop their skill set and enhance their professional knowledge.

Cecilia Charles is a clinical development analyst at 3M Health Information Systems.

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