Introduction to Internships and Externships for Medical Coding and Billing Trainees
Public and privately owned businesses like free or nearly free medical coding and billing labor, and most internships (on-the-job training that takes place while you’re in school) and externships (on-the-job training that takes place after you graduate) meet that definition. The businesses benefit from the work performed by the intern, and the intern benefits from the experience gained by working.
Internships are generally a result of an agreement between local businesses and local community colleges or vocational schools. The availability of these positions serves as a selling point for the school and also provides local businesses with potential employees (that’s you!) who have been given the skill sets necessary to be an asset to the company.
Participating in an internship or externship has a number of benefits:
You get real on-the-job experience. The necessary skills to become a medical coder and biller are learned in the classroom, but implementation of those skills happens on the job, and there’s no substitute for job-related experience.
The exposure you receive during an internship can open the door to a paid position. These positions often result in job offers just at a time when you’re looking for a job (students serving in these positions are normally in the final steps of their respective programs or have recently completed them).
Internships and externships serve as an avenue to networking. If you don’t find employment with the current company, someone who has been working alongside you may very well know of an opening elsewhere or would be willing to serve as a professional reference in the future.
Many vocational schools have connections to the community and are able to assist with externships or internships. Check with your program’s career counselors or individual instructors to find out about possible internships or externships.
Often instructors of the programs also work for the companies offering the internships, and the instructor’s recommendation often results in the opportunity for the student. If you are interested in one of these opportunities, let your instructor (or advisor) know and then be the kind of student who gives the instructor the confidence to recommend you.