Extreme Caution Example!

Don't become one of those horror stories where students wind up with diplomas, or certificates that are completely worthless.

A certificate is a credible document (usually to attest to, or prove the validity of what it states). Although most online learning programs offer some sort of certificate of completion, this should not be confused with professional certification or a diploma awarded to graduates from vocational training institutions or community colleges upon finishing their programs.

A non-recognized, non-accredited, no-education-credits online course certificate of completion is not the same as the documentation awarded to graduates from bonafide vocational training programs.

Professional certification is an official document that attests to the holder's professional skills. It certifies that the person is proficient and qualified to perform a certain job because he/she has the specific knowledge, skills, and experience.

Consumers MUST UNDERSTAND that when a certificate is issued by a gray-area, unrecognized, non-accredited school, online course, or worse a diploma mill, it is by no means confirmation of conferment of an individual's knowledge, academic excellence, or qualifications, because of the lack of regulation, supervision, and recognition. At best, such a certificate is simply a piece of paper to either put on file, or frame and display on your bedroom wall.

Extreme Caution Example!

Choosing the Right Medical Coding & Billing Training Program

Choosing a medical coding and billing program that leads to the right outcome demands prior research. Here is a checklist of what you can do and ask when choosing an online course:

Get in touch with the provider of the vocational training program or online course and ask questions about the course requirements:

  • Ask if the program is composed, managed, and taught by experienced (and certified) medical assistant professionals and instructors, who have actually worked in various disciplines of the medical assistant field.

  • Review the program syllabus. The training should be comprehensive and cover all aspects of the medical medical coding and billing occupation.

  • Find out the program's success and pass-rate: the percentage of students that graduate successfully from the program, sit for certification exams, and land jobs.

  • Ask to see the program's refund policy. If they don't have one, it's best to walk!

  • Choose only courses that meet your specific educational needs and goals, if a program is not flexible enough, or does not lead to the desired credentials, it's probably not for you.

  • Contact leading professional associations and certification bodies and ask about their guidelines so you know whether you will be eligible to sit for their professional certification exam upon graduation.

  • Check the school's recognitions and accreditation status. Also, if it is an online course, remember to check their reputation. A reputable school will always post all necessary info to their website. A great place to double check is the BBB Online website.

  • See if the website has a public forum where you can read the comments. Don't rely solely on a website's published customer feedback language, since bad customer comments can be sorted out, and good ones faked.

  • Examine the school's address. Is it a physical address, or does it exist only in cyberspace? With a physical address you will always know where to turn should you run into problems.
    Are you signing up for local services, or services provided from abroad? You might run into legal concerns but will have trouble enforcing them if the business is registered abroad.

  • Ask around; seek advice from professionals already in the field, read the newspaper to find out current trends.

  • Know whether local employers hire graduated from this school, what documentation they want, and what the future outlook might be.

  • Choose what's right for you, but let the school know that you are an informed consumer that will choose wisely!

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