Medical Billing Or Medical Coding Certification – Do You Have To Be Certified To Get A Good Salary?

If you’re thinking about getting into the medical billing or medical coding field and think you have to be certified to get a good salary or higher wages there are a few things to consider first. You have probably heard a lot about certification. But do you really need to be certified to get a job in medical billing or coding or both and make more money?

The truth is you may not really need this certification. It’s a process of education and training and taking national exams but most employers are more concerned about whether you can do the job. Which is better – certification but not really capable or of being capable but no certification? As long as you can do the job that will undoubtedly be the hope of most employers.

Before you enter this field and whether or not you want certification you want to make sure you understand what medical billers and medical coders so. Maybe you won’t like the work after spending a lot of time and money on getting the education or training for it.

So you want to make sure that you’re going to like it first. You can do that by visiting the billing departments in local hospitals and clinics and visit billing services and asking if you can get an idea what these types of jobs entail and maybe get a look at what you would be doing in the future if you were to get a job with their company, hospital or clinic.

There are numerous certification programs covering a broad range. It is almost better to get some experience in this field before you try to get certified to really know that’s what you want to do and that it will help you by getting you a higher hourly wages or salary, which may not be the case.

Some of the job titles that require certification are Certified Claims Assistant Professional, Certified Coding Associate, Certified Coding Specialist, Certified Electronic Claims Professional, Certified Healthcare Reimbursement Specialist, Certified Professional Coder and several others.

So you can see it’s important to know the part of this field you want to focus on and it may mean working in some capacity in one of these health facilities or businesses to get a feel for that. Make sure to check this out before you sign up for any training for medical billing or medical coding certification too. Education or experience may be necessary for some of the jobs that don’t require certification but many may have apprentice or assistant job openings and still make a good salary or high hourly wages. Make sure to research it thoroughly so you know what you’re doing.

Certified Medical Assistant Training Education and Certification For CMA

If you have been thinking about getting certified medical assistant training, you can get the necessary education at many different schools. There is a demand for trained health-care professionals, and especially for certified ones. The need for certified medical assistants (CMA) continues to grow each year.

Things are changing within the medical field. Where at one time doctors were thought of to be the ones in charge of a medical institution, now this is left to the nurses and even the medical assistants. Certified medical assistant training is giving those working a medical assistant job the rightful credit because of their increasing roles in the medical field.

Medical assistants perform exams, patient care, therapy and even manage billing and insurance filings. Their job requires a high level of professionalism.

A CMA can get jobs in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and nursing homes. These great opportunities are a direct reflection on the type and quality of training they are getting from the schools today.

When someone is interested in obtaining medical assistant education and certification, there are plenty of schools out there that offer the training needed. These schools offer accredited programs that are focused on different areas such as medical transcription, health care administration, ultrasound technology, phlebotomy and pharmacy.

If someone already works in a medical assistant job, they can decide to further their career and take further training to get certified. This will give them an edge for their career so they can advance within their office or in another medical office.

Further, adding other programs like phlebotomy to their already extensive knowledge as a medical assistant can definitely help further their career. Getting ahead with your healthcare career can definitely be had with continuing education.

Even if you have worked in the field for years, without a certificate you can be overlooked when it comes to promotions because you do not have it. Obtaining the certification and other diplomas or degrees can help further your career quickly.

When you become a CMA, you have better advancement opportunities with your job and in other offices as well. With the training, you learn things like anatomy, lab techniques, coding and insurance, and first aid.

Certified medical assistant training can take you far. Your career will soar to new heights after you complete the program and get your certificate.

Congress Passes Bill to Educate Realtime-Certified Court Reporters

The Senate and the House have passed a bill that will provide grants to educate court reporters specializing in realtime communication. These reporters will provide captioning for live television broadcasts, improving access for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.

A Short History of Captioning

In 1980, American television started broadcasting the first closed-captioned programs. These broadcasts had subtitles so that deaf and hard of hearing viewers could enjoy programs along with everyone else.

Initially, these captions were limited to pre-recorded broadcasts. However there was soon a demand for captions on news, sporting events, and other live programs. This created a need for people who could transcribe the spoken word in real time.

Certified court reporters have been doing this for decades. Many reporters left the courtrooms for jobs at television stations. Despite the rise in captioning, many programs were still broadcast without captions making them inaccessible to many viewers.

Increased Demand for Realtime-Certified Court Reporters

In 1996, in response to public pressure as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Congress passed the Telecommunications Act. This mandated that all new English television broadcasts must be captioned by 2006. It also required an increasing percentage of old programs be captioned.

The demand for certified court reporters skyrocketed as television stations searched in vain for people skilled in realtime captioning. Unfortunately as demand went up, the supply went down. Driven in part by fear that technology would make the profession obsolete, enrollment in court reporting schools plummeted.

Many schools closed and the number of graduates dwindled. The average court reporting agency saw their staff decline by 10% over this period. The 2006 deadline came and went and the caption goal was not met. The reporters needed just weren’t there. Schools were educating only half the realtime reporters needed.

A New Initiative to Train Court Reporters

The Higher Education Reauthorization bill was introduced into Congress in 2007. Part of this bill was a program of grants to educate certified court reporters to meet the demands of realtime captioning.

Interested parties watched as the bill made its way through the tortuous paths of the federal government. In February 2008 the bill was passed by the House of Representatives and in July it passed the Senate.

As of this writing, the bill awaits the President’s signature and advocates of the measure are cautiously optimistic that it will become a reality later this year.

The grants offered by this bill will offer incentive to aspiring court reporters and should increase enrollment. Over time, this should increase the supply of certified court reporters and ease the burden felt by both television stations and courtrooms over the lack of qualified candidates.

It will take time before the effects of the bill are felt in the industry. It is but one step in the process. Organizations such as the National Court Reporters Association continue to educate the public on the need for more court reporters in the future.

Why Should You Be Certified?

The issue of certification has long been debated. Here a few questions I’m frequently asked:

*I graduated from a paralegal program, why should I sit for a certification exam?

* I have a paralegal certificate from a university, doesn’t that make me ‘certified’?

* I have a good job and several years of experience, how will being certified make a difference?

* What will those letters after my name really do for me?

I wholeheartedly support the certification process for paralegals and believe that it is an important professional goal. Please consider the following points:

Having a certificate does not mean you are certified. A certificate is issued upon completion of an educational program, at which time you are certificated. Certification involves passing an examination established by a sponsoring organization that usually has specific requirements of education and experience for persons taking the exam. Upon completion of the examination, you are certified.

The American Bar Association defines certification as ‘a process by which a non-governmental agency or association grants recognition to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications specified by that agency or association.’

I am certainly not minimizing the importance of completing a paralegal program and obtaining your certificate or your degree. In fact, I view paralegal education as essential. I am merely pointing out that there is an additional step you can take that will increase your professional profile. That step is certification.

Credential = credibility. Certification is a voluntary process and is not a prerequisite for paralegal employment. However, certification gives you credibility. It demonstrates that you have the knowledge base and the skill required to pass the examination. It may also make you more marketable and may increase your income potential.

Certification takes you off the level playing field. Graduation from a paralegal program (and, thus, being certificated) is the primary avenue by which people enter the paralegal profession. If everyone has a certificate, how is a potential employer to judge the best candidate for the job?

Think about it, two paralegals standing side by side with the same certificate from the same school and the same amount of experience. How can one be distinguished from the other? The answer is certification. The certified paralegal demonstrates that he or she is a multi-skilled professional with diverse knowledge and effective communication skills

Certification gives paralegals an avenue for self-regulation. The issue of licensure for paralegals is old news…it’s been discussed to the nth degree for more than a quarter century. Paralegals work under the supervision of a licensed attorney and do not provide their services directly to the public. For this reason, they do not need to be licensed.

Also, licensure says a person is ‘qualified’ to do work. It does not demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills. An example is a hair dresser (and I have the highest regard for my hair dresser, believe me!). Hair dressers are allowed to enter the profession when they are licensed by a state agency. The license does not say they have fantastic skills, it only says that they can perform the services. The certification credential is awarded to people who prove their advanced knowledge and skills by meeting the standards of the credentialing organization.

Certification will do much for you personally. Ask anyone who has a credential and they will tell you that the achievement made them walk a little taller, made them feel stronger professionally, gave them incredible personal satisfaction and increased their level of professional confidence. They set a goal and they achieved it. They took a risk and they survived it. They have the credibility that the credential provides. They literally stand out above the crowd. Their accomplishment gave them great pride. You, too, can have all that with professional certification.

One more benefit you will reap from the certification exam is the learning that takes place in the preparation for the examination. Even the most experienced paralegal will learn something new and benefit from the intense review.

Also, you will usually be required to participate in continuing education programs to maintain your certification. This requirement will help you keep up to date with changes in the profession and in the legal arena.

Further, the credentialing organization will usually set high ethical standards for those using the credential. Unethical behavior will result in the loss of the credential.

Certification may give you a ‘leg up’ when you’re searching for a job. In today’s economy, you need all the ammunition you can muster to prove that you are the person for the job. Having the certification credential behind you exhibits not only the advanced knowledge I mentioned earlier, it also shows discipline, ambition, motivation and willingness to accept a challenge.

Which certification examination/credential is right for you? That’s a personal decision. Many paralegal associations provide certification examinations (ie NALA, NFPA, NALS, and AAPI). There are also voluntary certification programs offered by some states…examples are North Carolina and Florida, but there are others. All have different structure and eligibility requirements, as well as different continuing education and re-certification requirements.

What is important is that the credentialing organization you choose is a bona fide entity, that the exam is administered under rules and regulations in accordance with governmental acts and in accordance with such issues as anti-trust and fairness.

It is essential that the organization agrees to keep applications and records confidential. It is crucial that the organization prepares an examination under the guidance of professional testing consultants, that the exam be continually reviewed for accuracy, and that it be updated on a regular basis.

Usually the certification designation is a certification mark duly registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Claims of certified status must be verifiable…in other words, if a paralegal claims to be certified, he or she must have the credential to prove it.

Can you ethically use the credential after your name? Yes! Whether it is CLA, CP, PP, RP, AACP, ACP, PLS, AVA, ALS, NCCP etc. you can use it. The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed the issue concerning the utilization of credentials awarded by private organizations. In Peal v Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee of Illinois, 110 S.Ct. 2281 (1990), the Court suggested that a claim of certification is truthful and not misleading if:

* The claim itself is true

* The bases on which certification was awarded are factual and verifiable

* The certification in question is available to all professionals in the field who meet relevant, objective and consistently applied standards

* The certification claim does not suggest any greater degree of professional qualification than reasonably may be inferred from an evaluation of the certification program’s requirements.

* There is a qualified organization behind the certification process

Of course, the credential cannot be used to mislead the public and represent something you are not.

How do you prepare for a certification examination? The thought of all that study may sound overwhelming. The idea of taking such a critical examination may be frightening. The key to success is in the preparation and planning. The best thing to do is to break the process into steps:

* Decide which examination you will take.

* Decide when you will take the examination

* Working backward from the examination date, block a period of time for study and determine a study schedule (I recommend three months but that is an individual decision)

* Plan how you will study and what reference materials you will need (these may be available from the credentialing organization)

* Join a study group and enlist ‘study buddies’ to hold you accountable

* Take advantage of preparation and educational opportunities offered by the credentialing organization, as well as your professional association. For instance, NALA offers a three-day intense CLA review course, as well as CLA preparation courses at its convention.

Your challenge: If you already have a professional credential, congratulations! If you don’t, please put that at the top of your list. Follow the steps above and begin planning for the examination. You will never regret the time and effort it takes. You will always feel immense professional pride when you put those initials after your name!

© 2009 Vicki Voisin, Inc. Do you want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or Web site? You can, so long as you include this entire blurb with it: Vicki Voisin, “The Paralegal Mentor”, delivers simple strategies for paralegals and other professionals to create success and satisfaction by achieving goals and determining the direction they will take their careers. Vicki spotlights resources, organizational tips, ethics issues, and other areas of continuing education to help paralegals and others reach their full potential. She publishes a bi-weekly ezine titled Strategies for Paralegals Seeking Excellence. More information is available at http://www.paralegalmentor.com

Steps to CNA Continuing Education

It is no secret that in this slow economy, jobs can be hard to come by. As the baby boomer population continues to age, however, health care professionals are increasingly in demand. In fact, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) are more needed than ever before. If you need a job, and are considering going back to school, CNA continuing education is one route that you can go. Becoming a CNA requires relatively little schooling, compared to many jobs in the medical field, and the current nursing shortage means that there is no lack of employment for CNA’s. If you want to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, however, there are a few steps you will have to take in order to become qualified.

Most CNA continuing education programs require their students to have a high school diploma. If you did not complete high school, however, there are a number of ways to obtain your high school equivalency. The GED test, or General Educational Development test, can verify to potential colleges that you have the knowledge level required to graduate high school. The High School Equivalency test, or HEP, offers additional support services. In order to take the HEP, however, you must have worked at least seventy-five days on a farm over the last two years.

Once you have obtained your high school diploma, GED or HEP, you can enroll in CNA classes. The basic classes cover the policies, laws and procedures relevant to the CNA profession. These classes involve roughly 120 hours of class time and are offered by a number of organizations. Traditionally, students have taken their CNA classes through a local community college or vocational school. The internet, however, has provided a means for many students to take these classes at home. Online classes may offer greater flexibility than college classes, but do not offer the same level of teacher-student interaction. Regardless of where you take your classes, it is important to make sure that you are taking them from a state-accredited institution.

Although classes may be taken from the comfort of your home, CNA’s must also complete a certain number of internship hours. These hours must be performed under the supervision of a CNA teacher, and they will give you the hands-on experience needed to excel in the field. Internship requirements differ somewhat from state to state, so it is important to research the number of hours you must do before you begin.

Once your training and internship are complete, it is time to take the CNA exam. While it may be possible in some states to take the test online, you will probably have to find a nearby testing center. Once you have passed, you are considered a qualified CNA and you can begin the process of contacting potential employers and handing out resumes.

Being a Certified Nursing Assistant can be a demanding, thankless job. If you are a dedicated, nurturing person, however, it can also result in a very rewarding career. In the end, many people have found CNA continuing education to be a worthwhile decision.