In order to become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC), you must pass the medical coding certification exam, sponsored by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). There are a number of areas and concepts that you'll need to be familiar with in order to do well on the exam. At first it may seem overwhelming, but reviewing the content in a structured method will help you prepare and do well on the exam.
There are many free Internet sites that offer resources to help you prepare for the exam. Study guides and practice quizzes will familiarize you with the layout and content of the exam. Attend a review seminar or join a study group; they provide you with feedback from others who are studying for the exam. Practice identifying codes and avoid using encoders. Study your notes from Coding Clinic for ICD-9-CM and CPT Assistant to identify the areas you may need to spend additional time studying.
Aside from taking the online tests, create flash cards to test yourself. Writing down the material and saying it aloud will help you to remember it and give you confidence for the exam. Make flashcards on key topics such as medical terminology, official coding and reporting guidelines, reimbursement methodologies and HIPAA concepts. Devote each day to a particular subject. Purchase or record a tape that reviews these concepts since different people benefit from different learning techniques.
If you devote a sufficient amount of time to studying prior to the exam, you'll be more at ease when taking it. It's also helpful to come up with a few relaxation strategies in the event that you have trouble during the test. For example, if you come across a question that you don't know, move on to the next question. You can always go back to it, and another question may help you remember that material. Wasting time panicking over a question you don't know the answer to is counterproductive and can interfere with your overall focus.
Information on the CPC Exam
The CPC exam consists of 150 multiple choice questions that are divided into two parts. The first part is Medical Coding Concepts, and includes medical terminology, anatomy, and HCPCS Level II and ICD-9-CM coding concepts. The second is Reimbursement Methodologies, which includes physician reimbursement, inpatient payment systems, outpatient payment systems and health insurance. You must schedule a test date for the exam and can do so by contacting your local AAPC chapter.
Serena Spinello holds two master’s degrees and is pursuing her Ph.D. in medical science. She has been a professional writer and researcher for over 10 years and is an active member of the American Medical Writers Association, Academy of Medical Educators, and the National Association of Social Workers.