How Can I Get a Medical Billing and Coding Internship?

Completing an internship while attending courses in medical billing and/or coding is paramount for students simply because it allows them to gain inside knowledge and glean professional experience in preparation for that new job once certification is achieved. Students must understand that the majority of internships are unpaid. The experience acquired on the job is the payoff, as employers will look for this in a potential candidate.

The best way to see what internship/externship programs are available in your area is by making an appointment with your career counselor at the school/program in which you will be or are already enrolled. Most community colleges have liaisons with local provider offices or hospitals and keep a listing of all available programs that a student can participate in.

In addition, the AAPC offers Project Xtern, which helps newly certified medical coders obtain positions in the industry. It’s kind of like a coding matchmaker program, if you will, and it matches coders to provider offices and facilities that would be willing to offer on-the-job experience in an actual medical coding position. The AAPC currently works with more than 200 offices/facilities nationally and the official namesake is “Approved Official Extern Site” or (AOES) and they all are participating in the project. When an office or facility submits an agreement to the AAPC, they are essentially securing a position for every extern that includes at minimum 60% hands-on billing/coding training while completing a three-month (unpaid) program.

Where Have All the Internships Gone?

The following is a list of some alternate suggestions as to where you might inquire about an internship/externship program:

· Hospitals
· Doctor’s office
· Chiropractor offices
· Physical therapy offices
· Nursing homes
· Mental health facilities
· Drug facilities
· Outpatient clinics
· The Red Cross
· Government medical facilities

If you do contact a local hospital, try to volunteer in the medical records department and file charts, if possible. You can check at a local doctor’s office and see if they need help with verifying patients’ insurance, accounts receivable follow up — basically any type of overflow position in order to get your foot in the door. Employers look to hire candidates with proven on-the-job experience, even at the entry level and this can be challenging for all you “newbies” out there. That is why doing all you can to secure a position in any available internship/externship program can mean the difference in getting a job immediately after certification and having to pound the pavement for several months.

What Functions Would an Internship/Externship Position Encompass?

Salary: Unpaid

Job Summary: Works under the supervision of the manager/supervisor

Primary duties & responsibilities will include:

· Analyzing patient accounts to coordinate and complete patient concerns in office, over the phone, or via written correspondence
· Collecting outstanding balances from patients and insurance plans
· Providing timely and accurate follow-up for all inquiries
· Having a pleasant manner when working with patients

Required skills & abilities

· Computers
· Microsoft Office
· Phone/fax/copier/scanner
· Ability to work independently and as part of a team
· Minimum GPA of 2.5
· Must have resume and cover letter with 2-3 letters of recommendation

Final Thoughts

It’s never too late to find out about an internship or externship, so get out there and grab your experience by the horns and get that job!