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Elimination of AAPC Apprentice Credential – Medical Coding Certification

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( Enclosed is the article)

Letter from the Chairman and CEO (Jan 2012)

Elimination of “A” Designation

The Apprentice designation is not needed anymore.

The National Advisory Board (NAB) has recommended, and the AAPC leadership team has discussed and agreed, that the Certified Professional Coder-Apprentice (CPC-A®) credential has outlived its usefulness. The objective of the apprentice (A) designation was to show others—primarily prospective employers—an individual had passed the CPC® exam, but did not yet have one or two years of on-the-job experience. Instead, it was too often preventing most CPC-As® from getting interviews for potential jobs and hurting their prospects.

We believe the résumé indicating the experience level of an individual should speak for itself. Whether the individual has great aptitude, a terrific work ethic, good people skills, or any other desirable attribute is often never discovered because an interview was unable to be obtained. While we still believe experience is needed to become a good coder, we think it should be the employer’s decision who to hire.

Accordingly, AAPC is accepting comments through Jan. 31, 2012 on the following proposal:

Effective July 1, 2012, the CPC-A® credential will no longer be granted. All current CPC-As® would have their “A” removed by doing one of the following:

Getting at least one year of on-the-job experience no later than Dec. 31, 2013 (helpful to those with a job and currently working towards that end), or

Successfully passing a clinical exam consisting of coding 20 operative/office notes

Thus, no current CPC-A® would be “grandfathered” into the CPC® credential.

Those taking the CPC® exam after July 1, 2012 will have two ways to get their CPC® credential.

They can have one year of coding experience prior to taking the CPC® exam (proof given at time of exam application), and then pass the CPC® exam, or

They can pass both the current CPC® exam and clinical exam by successfully coding 20 operative/office notes. On-the-job experience after taking the CPC® exam will not be required.

It does not matter in which order the two exams are taken; if lacking prior experience, both are required to become a CPC®.

The pass rate for the CPC® exam will stay the same and a 90 percent pass rate on the clinical exam will be required. The 90 percent will be determined by correctly coding 18 of the 20 notes (and most will require multiple codes). The clinical exam will not be multiple choice; it will be free form and hand graded.

The clinical exam will include a sampling of office visits, surgical notes, evaluation and management (E/M) coding, ancillary services, modifier usage, and diagnosis coding.

The clinical exam would be taken at any AAPC proctored exam site. The same five hours and 40 minutes time restriction and code books will be allowed into this exam. If additional resources beyond code books are needed to properly code the notes, that information will be provided as part of the exam.

Both exams will be paid for at the same time and the cost for both exams will increase by $35. Applicants may still take each exam twice to pass it. If the examinee has one year experience, then he or she would pay only the CPC® exam price. If one exam is passed after two attempts, but not the other, then the fee for the exam not passed would be paid to re-take it.

Of course, current CPCs® are not affected by this change. As stated above, we would appreciate comments to this important change to our credentialing program through Jan. 31, 2012. You may go to to submit your comment. From those comments we will either proceed ahead, make modifications that strengthen the change, or slow down the change due to legitimate concerns that AAPC has not properly considered.

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Click here for more sample CPC practice exam questions with Full Rationale Answers

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