There are several ways to learn medical coding. People who are interested in careers in medical coding and billing can approach the career from many angles, and it is easy to adjust the learning experience to meet the needs of the individual student. Many of the ways to learn coding are highly flexible and under the control of the student, allowing people to work to support themselves while they are learning medical coding, or to care for children, run a home business, and engage in other opportunities while they study.
One way to learn medical coding is to work in a medical office and gain knowledge of medical coding through experience. People who work in medical offices can start out with basic filing while they familiarize themselves, and gradually take on more responsibilities. Once someone has enough work experience, he or she can take a certification exam to demonstrate medical coding skills, and pursue employment as a medical coder.
Another option is to take a home-study course. Numerous firms offer home-study courses, which are usually conducted at the student's own pace. Students may correspond through mail, or use an Internet-based system in which they can take quizzes, interact with teachers and students, and access study materials. Home medical coding courses vary in depth, duration, and cost; students may want to ask around for graduates of such programs to see how successful these programs are, and if former students have specific recommendations.
Vocational schools, technical colleges, and some community colleges also offer medical coding courses. With these programs, the student goes to school, attending regular classes and doing homework, to learn medical coding. Graduates of such programs sometimes have an edge when it comes to seeking employment, as they can usually take a certification exam as soon as they graduate, and they may also be offered work experience opportunities while in school to get familiar with the practice of medical coding.
A medical coding specialist needs to be prepared for continuing education after he or she has learned medical coding. Medical codes change periodically, and it is also important to keep up with ethics guidelines and industry issues. Some medical coders like to join a professional organization after they learn medical coding so that they have access to educational materials, conferences, trade journals, and fellow medical coders. Many of these organizations offer admittance only to certified coders, administering exams to candidates who would like to join.