The Coding Refresher vs. The Coding Specialist

By Jessica Schierbeck, Director of Strategic Solutions, CHA Learning

As I described in my last post, CHA Learning’s expertise and leadership in the HIM field and that of clinical coding led us to develop the Coding Specialist Program and offer coders and hospitals an opportunity to advance coding accuracy and quality without investing years in on-the-job training.  

After the program’s launch, we heard from individuals and employers that an entry-to-practice coding program was also needed to fill a gap in the system, support shortages of coders in some areas of the country and reduce the burden of on-the-job training of new coders by their colleagues.  

So, we set out to engage stakeholders and collaborate with subject matter experts to develop the Coding Refresher Certificate. 

The Coding Refresher Certificate

This program is intended for HIM professionals who have not coded in the last 2 years or less and who wish to return to, or enter, clinical coding roles. It is equivalent to the training received during a 2-year HIM Program, but delivered in a way that is highly accessible to those already working and balancing life. A fully online program like all of CHA Learning’s offerings, the Coding Refresher is self-paced and can be completed in as long as a year, or as quickly as the learner is able to. It is supported by expert coding faculty and leads to an entry-to-practice coding capability.  

The Coding Speciatlist Program

The Coding Specialist Program, by comparison, is for those who have been coding for at least 2 years, or who have graduated from an accredited 2-year HIM program in the last 2 years. It is perfect for those seeking to be specialized, challenge the exam for the Certified Coding & Classification Specialist to apply for jobs in competitive markets, or simply improve their confidence and quality.  

You can explore the key differences between our Coding Refresher and Coding Specialist programs with the comparison table found below. This table outlines entrance criteria, time commitments, and target audiences for each program.

Coding Refresher vs. Coding Specialist

CriteriaCoding Refresher CourseCoding Specialist Program
Skill Level AcquiredEntry-Level (job-ready)Advanced
Intended AudienceHIM Professionals wanting to become coders or return to a coding role after more than 2 years without practice.

New HIM graduates who require added support and development to build entry-level coding skills.
For coders wishing to enhance their level of coding competency and skill to specialist/expert level.

For new HIM graduates who are confident but wish to acquire an advanced level of competence.

Those wishing to gain the ability to train other coders.

Those wishing to prepare for the Canadian Coding and Classification Specialist certification exam.
Time CommitmentSelf-Paced
80-100 hours, up to 12 months
120-150 hours, up to 12 months

Entry Requirements
CertificationCertified HIM Professional*Certified HIM Professional*
EducationCanadian HIM Program**Canadian HIM Program**
Coding ExperienceNo recent acute care coding experience needed (but must have graduated from a Canadian HIM/HRT program**).Recent acute care coding experience within 2 years OR graduation from HIM program within 2 years.
*If you are not yet a certified HIM professional you must take our HIM Program or please contact us.
** If you are an international applicant, please contact us.

For a downloadable version of this table, click here. You can also find this table by visiting either the Coding Refresher page or Coding Specialist page on the CHA Learning website.

In my next post, I’ll address a peripheral subject – the impact on clinical coding due to the advancement of technology and AI and some of the fears experienced by those in the field.  

Do you want to learn more or have a personal conversation with me about HIM and clinical coding education, or your individual or team professional development needs? Are you an employer with feedback or who wants to discuss current industry needs? Send me a message

Jessica Schierbeck
Director, Strategic Solutions
CHA Learning / HealthCareCAN

613-241-8005 Ext 212

Jessica Schierbeck is the Director of Strategic Solutions at CHA Learning/HealthCareCAN.

With 23 years of experience within the healthcare system as a Health Information Management Professional and healthcare leader, Jessica is passionate about working with healthcare organizations and professionals to impact health system improvement through professional development.

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