There are no certification programs for nurse coding specialists, but those interested in this career can receive training through medical coding and billing certificate programs and health information management degree programs. A certificate in medical coding and billing prepares the recipient to work for healthcare institutions either on location or at home. Some programs offer bachelor program matriculation. Schools offer classes day, night, or online so working professionals may attend when possible. Schools often design bachelor degree programs for current health information management professionals. Students may enter this program to move from working in the management department to running it. A high school diploma or GED are required.
Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing
Programs prepare students to take the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam offer by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Previous medical experience is not required though it may be useful when applying for positions.
Classes are designed to build upon each other so most schools require program enrollees to take classes in order. Students learn anatomy, medical terms, coding, and billing procedures. Courses often contain the following classes:
- Medical terminology
- Coding procedures
- Recognizing insurance fraud
- Information management
- Billing procedures
Associate in Health Information Management
Associate degree program students receive training to pass the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA) and the AAPC's medical coding exams. Students learn current information management software, laws, research methods, and medical basics. Many schools offer hands-on classes or culminated practicums. Topics students may study are listed below:
- Information management software
- Laws and patient's rights
- Analyzing medical data
- Coding medical records
- Medical finance
Bachelor in Health Information Management
Before starting the program, many schools require students have an associate's degree or equivalent experience and hold a current Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certificate. Students spend time learning data analysis, research and reporting, they also learn leadership skill and general department management. Schools may offer field experience or internships. Below is a list of course topics students may encounter:
- Workplace communication
- Managing medical data
- Project management
- Strategic organizational methods
- Human resources
Health information management students are prepared to work in an administrative capacity for hospitals, clinics, private physicians and other health oriented employers. Position titles program graduates qualify for can be found below:
- Billing information controller
- Electronic health record specialist
- Health information analyst
Certificate recipients mostly handle billing procedures and code creating and tracking. Medical coding and billing job titles include:
- Billing representative
- Reimbursement specialist
- Coding auditor
Medical record management positions were analyzed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS projects a faster than average job growth rate, about 15%, between 2014 and 2024. Job growth may result from an aging population and the need for more tests and medical procedures. Advances in electronic organization methods may also contribute to job growth.
The BLS reported medical record management annual wages in 2015. They reported that most professionals in this field earned $40,430 a year on average. The lowest incomes were reported to be $24,190 a year, with the highest yearly gain about $61,400 or higher.
Certificate, bachelor's, and associate's degree programs all prepare individuals who are interested in becoming nurse coding specialist to take the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam. Coursework covers topics related to law, medicine, and human resources.