September 2008
A Q&A session with a medical coding clerk, Melissa Wright, who works in Houston, Texas.

Q: Can you tell us who you are currently employed with?

A: I work for Dr. Ashmir at his offices in Houston, Texas and I am a medical coding clerk.

Q: What is the most requested service you provide?

A: Well, Dr. Ashmir has a busy family practice health clinic and I make sure the different services he provides are then paid for by insurance and government agencies.

Q: How long have you been a medical coding clerk?

A: I have been doing the coding at the office for three years. I started in the reception area 7 years ago after graduating high school.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your training and school experience?

A: I had been working for Dr. Ashmir for a few years already, working with the patients prior to and after seeing the Doctor and I wanted a way to make more money but at the same office. So, I spoke about it with Dr. Ashmir and he suggested that I look at learning how to do medical coding and he would be sure to give me a position if I completed some school first. I enrolled in the AHCP Academy of Health Care Professionals here in Houston and completed my courses there before I began to work in the coding office.

Q: What’s your favorite part about having you position, and in contrast, what is the worst part?

A: The best thing about my position is that I am now able to earn more than I did before at reception. I’m making more per year now and I have an opportunity to do work for other doctors’ offices here in the medical building.

Q: Tell us about an average day.

A: When I come to the office at 8AM there are a number of patient files that I have to go through. I do my normal organization so that once I’m done I can put the information back where it came from in the office. Once I begin to go through the appointment procedures and notes from the doctor. The diagnostic coding that is done for us to request payments gets completed from the files that we keep here. The process is pretty regular at our office because of the amount of patients we see. Beside our lunch, we are collecting information and preparing it for processing by the companies who are responsible for payment. There will be a number of calls to our department from those who are interested in the information in the files. We report on the files when requested and if the request is warranted. I usually leave the office about 5:15 PM, having closed the work I was in the process of doing around 4:30.

Q: If you ever take the next step in business, what would that be?

A: The reason why I went to school was because I wanted to make more money. I like the people I work with and the people I work for. If I would want to add anything to that, I can always take on more work at home.

Q: Did your previous work history have anything to do with your current business position?

A: I love working in the doctor’s office where I am now. It was the reason I began doing what I do now. So, I would say that my job experience kept me wanting to be in a position where I could make more money and have extra responsibility than I had in the beginning.

Q: In your field of work, what kind of benefits do you receive?

A: We get a great insurance program plus sick and vacation time that accrues throughout the year. I had a total of three weeks of vacation this year and I did not even use all the time I had available. The coding that I do for other doctor’s hear do not give me anything in benefits except a chance to earn more money.

Q: Tell me about the money you make.

A: This year I will earn $34,000 from Dr. Ashmir. Last year I added $9,000 from the extra work that I did for other offices.

Q: What makes someone good at this profession?

A: Attention to detail, the ability to determine well the files that they are handling, and an ability to communicate about the files and the billing as they have been trained.

Q: Would you recommend this career path to others who are looking for the same things you were when you started?

A: Oh yes. I am happy that I spent the time to get some extra education to build a better career. I hope that anyone who does this can be as happy as I am where I work.

If a profession in medical coding appeals to you, take a look at our list of medical billing and coding programs in Texas.