When it comes to finding a job after their release from prison, felons find it challenging. Jobs they once had are lost and careers may be gone.
Felons may think no one will hire them, but there are resources available.
They will have to be creative and willing to learn a new trade or start a different career.
This is the opportunity for felons to begin a new profession.
This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can become a medical coder.
- What is a Medical Coder?
- What Training Does a Medical Coder Need?
- How Much Does a Medical Coder Earn?
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Medical Coder
What is a Medical Coder?
A medical coder is a person that transforms information regarding diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes.
Diagnosis and procedure codes are located in medical documentation records, such as physician’s notes, laboratory, and radiology results.
A medical coder assists in ensuring that all codes are correct in the medical billing process.
Daily duties of a medical coder include being able to locate relevant information in a patient chart, research codes, and enter information into a computer.
A medical coder works in a variety of settings from a physician’s office to a clinic to a hospital.
A medical coder works independently but must interact with physicians, medical staff, and medical billers to correctly assign medical codes for billing.
There are certain skills a medical coder needs, including to:
- Be detail-oriented to ensure accurate medical records
- Understand a written diagnosis or explanation to determine proper codes
- Be a good typist and have good computer proficiency
- Be able to work independently
- Have strong communications and interpersonal skills in order to discuss medical information with doctors and medical billers
- Work with integrity and discretion in maintaining patient confidentiality
- Have strong technical skills to maintain computer records
What Training Does a Medical Coder Need?
There are certain steps to follow to become a medical coder. First, they must graduate from high school or get their GED.
Formal training in medical coding is essential. A medical coder must have at least a six-month certificate for medical coding.
In most states, a two-year associate degree in medical coding or health information technology is preferred.
Certification as a medical coder can be achieved through the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC).
In this coursework, a student can learn about:
- Reviewing and assigning accurate medical codes
- Medical coding guidelines
- Integrating medical coding and payment
- Knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology for correct coding
How Much Does a Medical Coder Earn?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 120,000 medical coders. This occupation is expected to show a 21% growth by 2020.
The average salary for a medical coder was $47,000. Experience and additional certification could have a significant impact on these earnings. With two years of experience a coder could earn $48,000 and with 15 years of experience the average becomes $56,000.
A medical coder with a certified coder designation had an annual salary of $48,000 and those with a hospital/outpatient coder had an average of $56,000.
It also depends on the area of the country where a medical coder lives. Those on the West coast have the highest annual salary while those in Southeastern U.S. have the lowest.
An Opportunity for Felons?
Because of working with confidential patient information, background checks are essential in this industry. Some certification programs require a criminal background check before admitting students to their program.
Depending on the offense, some certification programs will accept those with a felony conviction.
Those felons who have a crime against a child, is a sex offender, or has a drug offense will be unlikely to be able to work in this field.
Felons should check with the AAPC in the state in which they would reside after completing the requirements to become a medical coder for exact guidelines.
In order to be successful in this pursuit, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. Lying about their conviction will prevent them from becoming a medical coder.
They are already working with the often negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.
There are many success stories, as the Guide to Being Employed, reveals, showing how having a goal, commitment, dedication, and perseverance can assist felons in achieving their dream.
For many felons, having their felony expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a medical coder.
Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Medical Coder
For families of felons wanting to pursue a dream of becoming a medical coder, encourage your loved one and support their efforts to live an honest life, change their lifestyle, and keep their dreams alive.
Your family member is worth making the effort for, if they are sincere in their desire to become a medical coder.
Help them realize their ambition no matter how difficult the road might be.
What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a medical coder with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.