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How to Get RN Coder Certification

Higher Education Articles October 9, 2013

Nurses who want to stay on top of the changing world of healthcare, either by getting an RN coder certification, or another coder certification, need to know what is required to reach their goals. Knowing why coding certification is important, and what it involves, can help nurses decide if seeking a coder certification is right for them.

Perfect for the job

RNs are ideal candidates for becoming medical coders. They know the ins and outs of patient charts, and understand intimately how to both choose accurate diagnosis as well as how to pick the right procedure codes for proper billing. With all their previous training, registered nurses are ideally suited to perform coding accurately, which is important for proper billing.

Proper billing

Hospitals rely on payments to function properly, and correct coding helps keep the money coming in and the doors open. By properly coding, nurses can help ensure hospitals get the maximum Medicare and insurance payments they are supposed to receive.

Coders, in many ways, are responsible for how much revenue a hospital earns. Without good coding, money bleeds from the hospital, a situation that fails to serve anyone.

How to get a Coder Certification

RNs have multiple options for obtaining a coder certification. They must first go through training, which they can do in several ways.

College or University

RNs have the option of going to a college or university and obtaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in health information management. Whether an RN chooses this route, or not, will likely depend on what time they are available. It can be difficult to juggle a full-time nursing career with going back to college.

Medical Certification Program

Multiple healthcare organizations offer coding certification programs, along with some private companies and educational institutions. These programs are not as rigorous or demanding as getting a full-fledged degree, but they still require RNs to attend classes in person, which can be difficult with a full schedule.

Online Medical Training Courses

The basics of medical coding can be learned online quite effectively, and this is the route many busy RNs choose out of necessity. Through a combination of online learning and textbook instruction, RN’s can build a foundation in medical coding.

Various Certifications

After an RN goes through training in the basics of medical coding, they can seek out a variety of certifications. Some of these include:

Certified Coding Associate – The certified coding associate (CCA) is designed to be an entry-level certification. When an RN is just starting out, he or she can seek to obtain this. It is useful when one only has a little experience, and can be gained by going through a training program and completing a minimum of six months in a medical facility.

oThe facility must use the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-9-CM), though, as well as the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT).

Certified Coding Specialist – If an RN wants to do coding work in a clinical setting like a research facility or a hospital; they will need this designation. It shows that you have an understanding of ICD-9-CM and CPT.

Physician-based Coding Specialist – For working in private practice, a nurse coder needs this specification. It shows you have a solid understanding of ICD-9-CM, CPT and the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding systems.

Certified Health Data Analyst – A CHDA certification shows you can understand information across many different coding systems. It takes an understanding of multiple systems to get to this level, but when an RN has it, it demonstrates that he or she can understand things in a much broader way.

Coders can have their own business on the side

One of the greatest advantages for an RN with a coding certification is that he or she can do work outside of their normal, 9-5 job. As a coder, it is possible to set out on their own and do a solid business on the side, or eventually make it a full time business.

Coders can make as much as they are willing to work, making it an ideal addition for the RN who is planning on retirement or just wants to work for themselves.

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