About the Coder Coach

Kristi Stanton, RHIT, CCS, CPC

Welcome to my blog! My name is Kristi and I am the Coder Coach!  Want to know more?  Here's a little background on me.

Who are you?
That is a very deep question!  In this context, I guess I would have to say that I am a self-confessed super-coder-geek who has been in the coding profession since 1995. 

Why did you become the Coder Coach?
I love coding and want to share it with the world!  In this day and age, it's very hard to get hired as a coder.  There are a lot of people who want to take your money and tell you your coding dreams will come true overnight.  I'm here to tell you it will take work and dedication and a little know-how beyond classroom learning.  I hope to give you that extra edge over all the other applicants. I had amazing mentors as I got started on my career and now I hope to pay a little of that forward!  This blog is a 100% voluntary effort.

What's your day job?
I am a Senior Consultant for Haugen Consulting Group where I develop and teach coding curriculum and conduct coding audits.  On a day to day basis I'm either neck deep in records to code, hammering away at the keyboard writing material, or standing in front of a group with my unique blend of coder humor and knowledge.

What's your education?
I graduated from Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado with an associate's degree in health information technology and received my RHIT through AHIMA soon after.  I am also a Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) through AHIMA and a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) through the AAPC.  In 2009 I became an AHIMA-Approved ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS Trainer and am proud to be an AHIMA ICD-10 Ambassador.

What's your experience?
I’ve worked most of my career as a hospital coding and revenue cycle consultant. I specialize in hospital inpatient and outpatient coding and reimbursement education. I've been a hospital inpatient/outpatient coder, coding supervisor, interim manager, project manager, auditor, and educator.  My specific areas of expertise are ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM/PCS coding as well as CPT coding for vascular interventional radiology and interventional cardiology.

Where do you work?
The good news: I have a laptop and can work anywhere.  The bad news: I have a laptop and can work anywhere!  I have worked in various environments including hospitals, physician offices, hotels, Starbucks, airports, and my home.  As long as I have an internet connection, I am pretty much good to go!

How else do you give back?
Succeeding in coding means getting involved.  I am the former co-chair of Colorado's ICD-10 Task Force through the Colorado Health Information Management Association (CHIMA) and a former CHIMA board member.  In the past, I served as president of and held other offices for the Northern Colorado Health Information Management Association (NCHIMA).
Talk much?
All the time!  I am a frequent guest speaker and have presented for a wide range of audiences including coders, clinical staff, charge posters, physicians, and billers.  I have been a conference speaker and audio seminar presenter for organizations such as AHIMA, HFMA, AAPC, AAHAM, NCHIMA, AAMAS, and HCPro.

What about street cred?
In addition to my certifications, I am the proud recipient of the AHIMA Triumph Award for Mentoring in 2011 and CHIMA's Outstanding Volunteer award in 2013.  I am also an ACE member through AHIMA.

How can people contact you?
You can reach me at codercoach@gmail.com

Are there other ways to connect with mentors in Colorado?
There are!  CHIMA has an active network of HIM and HIT students, including coders.  Check out their Facebook page for regular updates and attend one of their coffee chats!  https://www.facebook.com/ChimaHimHitStudents?ref=ts&fref=ts

I am a new coder, why are there so many posts about ICD-10 here?
As my career has evolved over the last four years, I have become more embedded in ICD-10.  As co-chair of Colorado's ICD-10 Task Force, I get questions about ICD-10 from novice and experienced coders alike, so my blog has evolved into a dual purpose: a place for information for new coders, a work-related humorous break for experienced coders, and a place for former coders and HIM professionals to come and learn about how to use their experience to get back into coding.

Do you really think ICD-10 is going to happen?
Yes I do!  In order for many of the quality initiatives that have been mandated to take place, we will need the data from ICD-10.  Everything we're hearing from CMS says that there will be no further delays, so we'd better be ready on October 1, 2014!

Upcoming Speaking Engagements
  • June 5, 2014: Copresenter for HCPro Audio Conference "ICD-10-CM Orthopedics: What You Need to Know for Fractures, Sprains, and Dislocations."  For more information or to register, please click here.


  1. Thanks for this blog. I love the code of the day...it's hilarious. Look forward to following you on Twitter.

    1. Thanks, JB! I'm glad you find the blog entertaining and thanks for following me on Twitter!

  2. I just started my journey in getting my associate's degree in Health Information Technology. Your blog is that little extra thing that I needed to understand what I am learning. Thanks a bunch!

    1. Congratulations, Amanda, on your new career choice and best of luck on your journey through your HIM classes!

  3. I'm in my final semester of my Medical Coder-Biller program at Miami Dade College. At first I started the program, as a suggestion from a friend, with very little knowledge about what I was getting myself into. Now that I'm almost done I'm 100% positive that I found the right path for me. Coding is so exciting and right up my alley. It was such a thrill to find this blog! Thank you!

  4. i am not sure what i want to do but i know i like working with computers and i know i would like to work in the medical field because it is a good paying field. but i don't really want to vaccine anyone! i was thinking of a medical biller or coder but i am not sure what that is? or maybe a pharmacy technician. Thank you for your time!

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    1. I would recommend starting here: http://codercoach.blogspot.com/2009/07/do-you-want-to-be-coder.html and reading through some of my older blog posts. Do you research on the industry by checking out www.ahima.org and www.aapc.com. This isn't a career you should enter into lightly - it does take a lot of work, but can be very rewarding. Good luck!

  5. Hi Kristi,
    I ran into your blogspot when I was looking for information on DRG's and I am so happy to find a place I can go to for information and advise.

    I have 13+ years of experience as a coder(CCS-P certified) coding physician Pro-Fees for a major hospital in CA. I moved to HI (Maui) last May and have been unable to obtain a coding position here. I put together a great resume and have wonderful letters of recommendations and I have applied for a remote coding positions using a recruiter but all opportunities have fallen through because most want inpatient coders with a CCS certification. I am studying for my CCS now and taking the test in May. My question is with the CCS certification and the years of experience will this be enough to qualify for a position as an inpatient coder? Also, regarding learning more about DRG's and applying them should I order a book through AHIMA about DRG's? I know that I will need a thorough understanding about them with practical application.

    Thank you so much in advance for any information or guidance

    1. Your years of experience will benefit you from a coding perspective and whether or not it will help you get hired along with the CCS credential depends on the employer and if there is a pool of experienced inpatient coders that they can pull from. My recommendation to you is to focus on the coding guidelines, particularly parts II and III that discuss coding of principal and additional diagnoses for inpatients. The biggest learning curve for moving from the pro fee to the hospital inpatient side is the diagnosis piece. If you can assign principal and secondary diagnoses, the DRG piece will fall into place. Of course, baseline DRG knowledge is also good to show that you understand how payment is made. If you don't have a lot of experience with volume 3 procedure coding, make sure you spend some time on that as well. If you purchase anything from AHIMA, I would purchase the Clinical Coding Workout with Answers, which will allow you to test yourself on specific coding exercises. good luck!

  6. I know rn-coder.com trains nurses and doctors to code in icd 10. And the aacca.net is also accredited.

    1. I am not familiar with rn-coder and the AACCA, but credentials from AHIMA and AAPC are universally recognized by employers. Most employers not only require coding credentials in their job descriptions, but also list which specific credentials are required for the position. These credentials will be listed in any job postings. As such, I recommend looking at local job postings before enrolling in any coding program to see which credentials local employers are requiring. There is nothing more frustrating than spending time and money on a coding credential only to find out later that an employer will not recognize your hard work. I recommend credentials from AHIMA and AAPC because you will see them listed as requirements in nearly every coding job posting and these are the credentials that I believe make coders most the marketable.

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  8. I am a registered nurse with 18 years of experience in different fields of nursing (ICU,PACU,GI,DOU). I am interested in learning coding and see if this is going to open up a new career for me or use it as my part time job. My plan is to do remote coding if possible. If I pass the CCS certification,can I also use my clinical experience to find a job or it has to be a real medical coding experience? What steps should I do to achive this goal?

    1. An RN with a CCS is a powerful combination and your clinical experience will definitely benefit you. Most employers will want to see coding-specific experience since there are some specific coding rules and guidelines that aren't always intuitive to someone with clinical experience. The fear here is that you may know "too much" and try to diagnose the patient when there is a specific coding rule that doesn't allow us to make assumptions. That said, if I saw your resume with the RN and the CCS I would be very curious and would want to talk to you. Because you have clinical experience, it would cut training time for me and that's a huge plus!