Things to Ask Medical Coding and Billing Training Programs
Now that you have a better idea what a medical coder and biller does, in addition to what training options are available, you need to start the process of evaluating schools. But since there many training options offered at community colleges and technical, trade and vocational schools within the AK area, you need to have a ready list of questions to assess each one. And when you add all of the online programs that offer medical coding and billing classes, the project can become rather formidable. As we have already discussed, location and cost are going to be relevant issues, especially if you have a modest budget and will be commuting to classes from your Alaska residence. And whether or not the school and program are accredited should be part of your vetting procedure also. So let's take a look at several of the additional questions that you should ask the colleges you are considering so that you can evaluate each one and make the best choice.
Is the Training Accredited? It's important that the school and program you pick are accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools. If it's an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Not only will accreditation help ensure that the training you receive will be of superior quality, it may help with your future employment as well. Many Alaska healthcare facilities will only employ entry level candidates that have completed an accredited medical coding and billing educational course. And financial aid and student loans are often only offered for schools that have received an accreditation.
What is the School's Reputation? Before choosing a medical billing and coding program, check out what its ranking and reputation are among other programs. This is especially important if you have no experience in the profession, since potential employers will basically be evaluating you based on the quality of your education. As we have addressed, confirming that the school is accredited is an initial step. Checking with college rating organizations, for example U.S. News and World Report, can confirm the quality of the school as well. An alternative is to contact several Alaska medical organizations that you may have an interest in working for and ask which programs they suggest. Remember that even if the college itself does not have an outstanding reputation, its medical coding and billing program may still be highly regarded.
Is there an Employment Placement Program? Obtaining employment in Alaska after graduating in your new profession can be challenging without the help of a job placement program. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their job placement rates are. A high and rapid placement rate is a good indication that the coding and billing college has a substantial network of healthcare employers where they can place their graduates. It also suggests that the college's graduates are sought after in the marketplace.
Where is the School Located? If you are intending on driving to class from your Alaska residence, then the location of the college will be of prime importance. Naturally if you choose an online medical coding and billing program, then the location of the college will not be a consideration. One thing to bear in mind is that if you attend classes at a junior or community college, many charge a higher tuition for enrollees that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those schools that are within your local area.
What is the Overall Expense? Medical coding and billing training courses can differ in cost based on the type of credential acquired and the amount of training provided. But remember, tuition is not the only cost of your education. Costs also include such items as the cost of books, supplies and commuting. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to contact the college's financial aid department to find out what is available in Alaska. Naturally if you decide to attend an online college, a portion of these additional costs, particularly for commuting may be minimized or even eliminated.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? A number of students continue working while going to school and need a flexible class schedule. If you can only go to classes during the evenings or on weekends in Alaska, confirm that they are available at those times. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you decide on offers that option. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.