Internships and Practicums

If you’re considering an educational or training program to become a medical biller or coder, you should be aware that many programs require students complete an internship or practicum experience. These field placement experiences are opportunities for current students to work alongside active professionals and apply the knowledge gained in the classroom or online setting.

Interns can observe colleagues with years of experience and often foster relationships with these coworkers. Working in a real-world setting provides a deeper understanding of the day-to-day work experience for medical billing and coding professionals.

A medical billing and coding internship also adds valuable experience to a resume, making you more appealing to prospective employers. Many people looking for careers in medical billing and coding are frustrated when a lack of medical experience prevents them from getting a job. Employers value the training an internship or practicum provides, and it can help prove to them you are a team player who works proficiently in a healthcare environment.

What to Expect From Your Medical Billing and Coding Internship

What Will I Do for My Medical Billing and Coding Internship?

Students in medical billing and coding internships generally work individually or in teams under the supervision of a manager. The tasks interns perform depend on the healthcare setting in which they’re working, but there are some general commonalities among sites. Typically a medical billing or coding intern creates patient medical billing claims; submits claims to insurance companies; and follows up on processing, reimbursement, and client payments. Interns may also verify patient insurance coverage and eligibility for care. Coding interns may properly code diagnoses and medical procedures to prepare billing and patient records.

In Which Type of Setting Will I Work?

Medical billing internships and practicums usually take place in a healthcare setting, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, chiropractic offices, physical therapy offices, nursing homes, and mental health facilities. Schools often provide a list of pre-approved sites for your internship or practicum.

If you wish to work at a location that is not pre-screened and approved by your college. If you are an online student who lives and wants to work in a different area from where you are attending school, then you may be able to request an alternate site for your internship or practicum experience. In some cases, your place of employment may be used for your internship or practicum experience.

How Long Will My Internship Last?

The length of the internship experience varies depending on the program and degree level you pursue. Internship programs can last anywhere from several weeks to a full year, working up to 20 hours a week. Medical billing and coding certificate programs may not require an internship.

Associate programs often involve a longer time commitment and more hours of work per week. This guide covers medical billing and coding internships and practicums only at the general level, so students should research prospective programs to get a feel for what the requirements will be for their area of study.

Will I Get Paid for My Medical Billing and Coding Internship?

Students completing medical billing and coding internships may or may not get paid, which varies by placement. The majority of internships for medical coding and billing are unpaid. The Department of Labor provides additional information on what distinguishes a paid from an unpaid internship.

Will I Get Academic Credit for My Internship?

Usually, students completing an internship for their medical billing and coding program receive academic credit for their experience. In these programs, internship and practicum students often must complete assignments and projects related to their work in the field. Instructors evaluate this work, along with feedback from the student’s site supervisor in order to determine a grade or whether or not the student complied with the university requirements to receive academic credit. This often involves an assessment of the student’s performance and commitment to their assigned tasks, as well as the work’s adherence to the stated goals of a program’s internship or practicum design.

How Will My Medical Billing and Coding Internship Help Me?

Medical billing and coding internships are a valuable supplement to classroom studies. Students learn the skills and techniques required in the industry, including patient billing, keeping records, payment collection, and patient correspondence. The hands-on experiences allows students to demonstrate what they’ve learned in class in a real work environment. Performing these tasks yourself helps identify your strengths and weaknesses before fully entering the professional world. These internship postings increase your employability, enabling you to market yourself as a candidate with experience working in the field of medical billing and coding.

Where to Find Medical Billing and Coding Internships

There are several ways for students to find medical billing and coding internships in their area. Below are just a few options to give you a starting point in your research.


Your School’s Career Center
Making an appointment with your school’s career center is an excellent way to start looking for internships. The career center can match the knowledge you’ve acquired in your program with job facilities in your local area.
Job Fairs Job fairs host employers in your area at school or another local facility looking for deserving candidates and may offer you an internship or full-time position on the spot or offer application materials.
Recruiting Events Recruiting events, when a single employer hosts a gathering to meet face-to-face with prospective interns, may also provide an internship.
Alumni Network Your school’s alumni network can share resources, internship, and career opportunities. Visit your school’s website or inquire within the alumni department about this potential avenue.
Job Boards and Internship Databases There are several websites that provide job boards or internship databases to students looking for medical billing and coding internships. You can enter your search criteria, such as geographic location or specialty, to find the right position for you.

Medical Billing and Coding Internship Opportunities

  • Project Xtern: Project Xtern pairs AAPC members with participating partner facilities in their database for three-month to one-year unpaid medical billing internships. Participants must be current members of AAPC and hold active AAPC credentials.
  • Indeed.com: Indeed.com is a general job site that provides students with a searchable database of medical billing and coding internships in their area.
  • Internships.com: Internships.com allows students to search for internships in their chosen field by geographic location. This site also provides resources such as interview preparation and workplace tips.
  • ZipRecruiter.com: ZipRecruiter streamlines the process of searching and applying for internships with one-click application and a progress tracker.
  • Glassdoor.com: Glassdoor helps find the right internship for you based on your field of interest and location. Prospective interns can also read employee reviews for a company you’re interested in.
  • SimplyHired.com: SimplyHired includes a searchable database of available jobs and internships and allows users to compare job offers and compare a job’s salary to regional and national averages for their field.

Resources

  • AAPC: AAPC is a member organization designed to promote the education and certification of medical coders. Students can search for internships and compare salaries for different positions in the field of medical coding.
  • AHIMA: The American Health Information Management Association is a professional association for individuals working in the field of health informatics. Members access digital textbooks, online education, and newsletters.
  • CAHIIM: The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education supports the professional certification process of prospective medical billers and coders by assuring high quality educational outcomes of their accredited programs.