So you have done your research and have decided that medical coding is right for you, but how to get CPC certification? The process will be long and complex but the benefits once you have received the certification will definitely outweigh any prior difficulties. This article is dedicated to detailing the process of receiving CPC certification and other relevant information.
First Steps on How to Get CPC Certification
Your first step in this process is to decide how much knowledge you already have based off of what the CPC certification tests you for. To get certified you must take a long multiple-choice test administered by the AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders). However it’s not as simple as signing up for the test and passing. The certification is two-fold as far as requirements:
1. 2 years of relevant experience approved by the AAPC: 6 months to 1 year of experience can be waived by taking either a 40 or 60 hour course.
2. CPC Exam: the cost is $300 for non-students and $260 for students of the Academy and allows one free retake.
Now you must contact the AAPC in order to get signed up for the test and receive your study materials. When you apply you will receive a packet of information detailing what you will need for the exam, what will be covered by the exam, and what you can do to prepare for the exam. Getting approval for your application can take up to 6 weeks so be sure to schedule your exam date after 6 weeks of submitting the application.
Your preparation for the certification may take a year or more depending on how much previous knowledge you possess. If you have worked in a medical setting before and have looked at what will be covered on the test, you may only need a simple preparation course and a practice exam. However if this is all very new to you, you may need to take a few online or in-class courses.
The majority of your proficiency must not only be in specific medical fields like pathology, endocrinology, and radiology, but also in how the reimbursement process works in medical institutions. If you feel you are not fully knowledgeable in any of these aspects you can also turn to your community college or vocational school for additional courses. Because the exam is timed you will need to be able to fully comprehend medical situations and the proper codes for each term.
How to Get CPC Certification Depends on Your Exam Performance
Once you are ready for the exam you must use the AAPC testing locater to find where the nearest testing site is to you. If you have not completed the required 2-year experience to get certified you can apply for an option called CPC-A which allows you to take the test as an apprentice. So that when you do complete your experience you can show proof and receive your certification at a later date.
So there is the process in a nutshell of how to get your CPC certification. Contacting the AAPC is your first step, and then assessing your own abilities and knowing how to study is the hardest part. If you know what you are doing the exam will be a piece of cake. If you have completed both parts required for certification, then congratulations on a job well done.