Certificate of Completion in Professional Medical Coding
The USU Eastern Medical Coding Program is highly unique, not only to higher education, but to the coding industry itself. To our knowledge there is not another program like it. It is designed for a very special group of students, those living in rural communities seeking a better way to provide for themselves and for their families.
Because the majority of students have commitments during the day, classes meet two nights per week, usually Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, from 5:30pm to 7:30 or 8:00pm, depending upon the courses taken. It is a part-time program spanning a period of 20 months (five semesters). Typically, two courses are taken each semester.
The Educational Model (see “Core Coding Classes: Flow of Training”) presents the core coding classes. The primary thrust of the first three (3) semesters is to prepare students for the CPC national certification exam (Certified Professional Coder) offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders.
The last two (2) semesters are designed to help bridge the so-called “experience gap” which is an industry-wide problem. Coding students completing most training programs frequently find themselves in a Catch 22 situation: “You can’t get work without experience and you can’t get experience without work.”
For the USU Eastern program, the last two semesters provide the intense, experience-based training necessary to help bridge this gap of experience. Through a series of Advanced Practicums, Simulated Coding experiences and Advanced Diagnostic Coding drills, students learn the practical side of coding. Having a focus upon highly demanded areas of coding, students are provided “heads down” coding opportunities with mentored support and supervision.
The Certificate of Completion in Professional Medical Coding also requires 3 general education classes which can be taken along with the core coding classes or while working following the completion of the core courses.
There is an additional and very important concluding piece which follows the core coding classes. It is essential for successful transition from school to work (in particular, home-based work). It is called a Virtual Internship. Here students code “live” charts for a web-based medical coding company. Charts coded are 100% reviewed and then submitted by seasoned coders who act as mentors. Following chart submission, the mentors provide feedback to the Interns. The Internship covers a period of two to three months. (see “Medical Coding Bridge”)
With regards to the Internship, one final point should be made. Because it is so crucial, new cohorts of coding students are begun only when the necessary industry partnerships are in place, or at least reasonably in place given the dynamics and uncertainties of the economy.
Tuition and fees for the program depends upon the number of courses taken at any given time. The typical range, however, is from $455 to $605 per semester.