You want to study medical coding and you’ve found a school that you like, but there’s a problem: it’s not AHIMA accredited.
What does that even mean, really? Does it really matter? What can the association do for you that an unaccredited school can’t?
It turns out that yes, accreditation does matter and that yes, it can do more for you than a school that’s not accredited.
Who is AHIMA?
AHIMA is the American Health Information Management Association. It is not just a national accrediting body; it is an international association who continues to set the standard for HIM (Health Information Management) professionals all over the world. AHIMA is also described as the “matriarch” of all billing & coding and health information management organizations.
With an estimated 52 chapters and over 100,000 members, it is the leading association that deals with health information management. Since its founding in 1928, AHIMA has been the voice and standard for all medical coding and billing specialists.
Now you know what it is, but what is its purpose? Why does it exist, and why do you need to know about it?
Its main purpose is education. This association delivers the competencies, curriculum, credentials, and even textbooks that are used in colleges all over the country. It continues to update the curriculum as needed to reflect the current status of the industry; therefore, it’s advised that you choose a school that can provide this accreditation above all others.
Beyond Your Education
We’ve talked about education, but does AHIMA do more than that?
Of course. The association is the leading advocate for the HIM profession, working alongside healthcare facilities, advocacy groups, and even the government to impart ethical standards and responsible practices for the industry.
The association also serves as a guiding light for its members, providing credentialing, conferences, workshops, publications, and more to keep you up to speed on trends. You’ll find that your association with this accrediting body will only bolster your career, so think about schools that offer PCAP programs.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Medical coding specialists are exactly that: specialists. Because your work in this field is specific, accreditation from AHIMA is important. It provides your potential employer with the knowledge that not only have you graduated from a program, you’ve graduated from a program that follows the guidelines of the largest association dedicated to this particular field and you have met its requirement standards.
You’ll also find that certification is expected if you come from an AHIMA-accredited school. That’s because the point of accreditation from a particular body is to prepare you for certification as a specialist. Only a school that already adheres to the association’s competencies can prepare you properly for this certification.
What Colleges are Accredited?
AHIMA does not accredit every school that provides a medical billing and coding program. While many schools apply, few offer the necessary subjects that would be required for passing the CCS certification exam. The result is that a short list of colleges can vie for the distinction of being a Professional Certificate Approved Program. To date, there are only 30 colleges in the entire United States that can qualify for PCAP distinction.
Eagle Rock College
Eagle Rock College is a great example of a school that understands the need for AHIMA-accredited programs. It is one of just three schools in the state of California that can provide students with the necessary curriculum to pass the Certified Coding Specialist exam, which is in high demand from employers.
Eagle Rock College not only offers great diploma options, but it also provides students with a chance to apply for their Stand-Alone Program. This program was devised specifically for students who did not go to an accredited school and need to prepare themselves for the CCS certification. The short program enables students to learn about the core competencies necessary for passing the exam without having to go back to school.
Can it Make a Difference?
AHIMA makes a difference for medical billing and coding program graduates, especially in California. Currently, Eagle Rock College stands as one of just three colleges to hold this prestigious distinction. But can it really make a difference?
In the medical field, employers require that candidates graduate from an AHIMA accredited school. This lets your potential employer know that you have been educated in adherence to the association’s core competencies, which govern how the industry operates in the country.
Even more so, the Certified Coding Specialist, a distinction only offered by the association, is critical as the industry changes. You’ll be in high demand if you can list Eagle Rock College as your school and the CCS as one of your accomplishments, even if you don’t have a lot of work experience.
By attending Eagle Rock College, you’re setting yourself up for success. Not only will you graduate from a school with a great reputation, you’ll also be on track for passing the CCS certification exam. With the industry projected to grow 21 percent in the next three years, you’ll be in a better position to look for a higher-paying job.
Now that we’ve covered what AHIMA is and why the accreditation is important, it’s time for you to seriously consider Eagle Rock College as your path forward. With a comprehensive curriculum and a focus on fulfilling the needs and goals of the industry, you’ll no doubt find the job of your dreams.