You finished the certification exam review… You passed the exam… You are now a certified medical coder… What’s next? I’m sure most of you have gone straight to the career websites only to find positions seeking “Experienced Medical Coders”. Don’t panic. I started my medical career by working in a military hospital laboratory. After eight years, I decided to switch gears and seek an administrative position in the medical field. At the time, I had absolutely zero experience or education in medical coding. I (like you) did not qualify for most of the available jobs. Instead, I decided to take a Front Desk Specialist position at an Urgent Care clinic. That turned out to be the best decision I made.
Most people entering the field of medical coding do not realize how important it is to understand the front desk area. For many practices, everything from obtaining the patient demographics to authorization of procedures starts at the front desk. If this information is not captured correctly, it creates more work for the medical billing and coding personnel. Also, in order to troubleshoot problems that occur at the front desk, you must work in and understand the front office position.
Based on my own career journey, I would strongly suggest seeking a position as a Front Desk Specialist. Not only will you be able to understand the front desk procedures, you will also be exposed to the medical billing and coding aspects of that position, such as insurance verification. In the position I held at the clinic, I was responsible for coding the procedures and diagnoses in addition to my front desk tasks. By taking that position, I was able to understand the front desk operations and gain the coding experience I needed.
After leaving the Urgent Care clinic, I went on to work as a medical coder, a practice manager, an instructor and now as a business consultant/educator. The point is, everyone must start somewhere but you must choose a starting point that will provide you with relevant work experience. In return, the knowledge you gain from this will lead you towards your ultimate career goal.