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Harper McMains.jpg

SCKMC Staff Achieve Certification to Improve Hospital

October 5, 2015

Holly Harper, SCKMC’s Chief Financial Officer recently completed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, and Patricia McMains, the hospital’s Health Information Services Manager, completed a national certification program to become a Certified Coding Specialist.

 (Pictured): Patricia McMains (left) and Holly Harper recently completed certification programs that they believe will allow them to better assist the South Central Kansas Medical Center.

(Pictured): Patricia McMains (left) and Holly Harper recently completed certification programs that they believe will allow them to better assist the South Central Kansas Medical Center.

Arkansas City, KS – Staff at South Central Kansas Medical Center have taken it upon themselves to keep up with the latest trends in healthcare management through continuing education. Holly Harper, SCKMC’s Chief Financial Officer recently completed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, and Patricia McMains, the hospital’s Health Information Services Manager, completed a national certification program to become a Certified Coding Specialist.

For Harper, her CPA designation is a tool that she believes will be have benefit when it comes to the unique facets of healthcare finance.

“Most of the material I learned going through college I use on a daily basis. What this license did was prepare me for more of the detailed items I work with,” Harper said.  “Most CPAs practice in public accounting which most people are familiar with, doing peoples taxes, estate planning, and those types of roles. Now I get to apply some of that in-depth knowledge specific to government accounting, so that when we go through audits we are better prepared.”

There are four components to becoming a Certified Public Accountant: The educational requirements, which generally include a master’s degree, before you can sit for the four part exam; Years of experience in the field of accounting; Peer evaluation of accounting skills; and an ethics course. The pass rate for first time accountants is less than forty-percent.

“It’s the highest level that you can get in accounting. It’s a designation that most accountants want to have, but it’s not easily obtainable. I started studying in January, sat for my first (exam) in April and second one in May. Then July and August were my last two. It was a long haul. I would get up every morning and spend time studying. It was a big commitment.” Harper said.

 McMains decided to take receive her certification to set the example for those within her department.

“As hospital staff we really need to up our game to survive. (Certification) is not required by my job, because I’m not a coder. I never considered myself a coder, but I supervise coders and we are encouraging our coding staff to get this credential. It’s not something I would have pursued on my own, it just seemed like the right thing to do,” McMains said.

The CCS certification requires successful completion of a four hour exam through the American Health Information Management Association. The exam is a review of ICD-9 medical coding, CPT procedure coding, various regulations regarding medical records, billing, ethics, and patient privacy regulations known as HIPAA.

“I prepared for about a year and a half, just getting incrementally more intense on my studying. It’s just a matter of review; it wasn’t a course of study. I’ve been in the profession a very long time so it was just a matter of reviewing,” McMains said.

Both ladies plan to continue with their education. McMains is considering additional credentialing in physician coding as well as clinical documentation.

“(The additional certifications) would be beneficial, as I would be able to help the providers in their documentation which would then help the hospital get a higher reimbursement. It would be capturing more the difficulty of diagnosis and severity of our patients, really capturing the work that we are doing and being reimbursed accordingly. 

For Harper, she hopes to someday receive her doctorate.

“Education is very important to me. I would recommend to anybody to continue to pursue what they enjoy. For me it was accounting, so I wanted to get the highest level I could for accounting. If it’s for a nurse, push for that highest level you can reach in nursing,” Harper said.