When a friend in nursing school needed a “guinea pig” to practice nursing assessments, Alison Sparks was more than happy to help. What started out as a kind gesture turned into something more as Alison’s interest in the medical field grew. She ended up taking a few healthcare courses and, as a business-minded individual, immensely enjoyed learning about coding and insurance. Alison has worked in a variety of specialties as a medical coder and decided it was time to earn her official coding credentials. Recently, I caught up with Alison to talk about her experience in UTC’s coding course and pursuing certification.
Marah: What made you decide to take the step toward certification?
Alison: My boss and I had discussed the possibility of me pursuing coding certification. While I had previous experience, I knew that taking a course would allow me to learn about coding and various specialties more in-depth. I googled “medical coding in Chattanooga” and found that UTC met the qualifications of what I wanted, so I decided to take the leap.
M: In your opinion, what would you say separates UTC’s medical billing and coding course from similar courses?
A: While I was googling various options, I discovered that UTC’s course would give me the ability to complete the certification process quickly. The fast pace of the course really appealed to me.
M: What would be your advice to students in the current medical billing and coding course?
A: Take time to learn anatomy inside and out because you will definitely need that in-depth knowledge later. Also, focus on the details of what you’re learning throughout the course. Medical codes can be worded very similarly, and only one word or symbol creates differences in the codes. The tiny differences will trip you up if you’re not careful, so pay close attention!
M: What would be your advice to someone studying for their certification exam? Do you have any study tips you would give them?
A: While AAPC offers online practice exams, I personally preferred taking exams in paper form. By happenstance, I had a coworker that had taken a CPC course and had a practice exam in paper form. I studied from his mock test constantly.
Repetition is key. You only get 4.5 hours to take the exam, so learning how to be quick and repetitive by doing many practice problems, and creating a rhythm for yourself, is important. I would also advise continuing to pay close attention to detail!
M: What other aspects of the course did you find beneficial?
A: I enjoyed the camaraderie that my classmates and I had together. We would talk outside of class while working on homework which helped us build friendships with one another. I also enjoyed the camaraderie with my instructor. We would go back and forth with one another and talk about the logic behind choosing one code over another. Lastly, I appreciated the interactive experiences I had throughout the course.
M: Is there anything else you would like to share about your medical billing and coding course experience?
A: Medical coding is a great career for business-minded individuals who desire to work in the healthcare industry and help others. UTC’s course will teach you the skills you need to be able to do so!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M) serves as the marketing assistant for the UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, she spends time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with CPE’s customer base. During her free time, you can find her getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, she aspires to live by Mr. Feeny’s advice, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” She strives to use her passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around her.
Connect with Marah on LinkedIn.