Are There Prerequisites for Medical Coding Courses?

Medical coding has become like many other occupations in its need for greater levels of education and training. Professionals in the field are returning to school for continuing education and degrees in health information management. The assumption that this education consists of a simple ten-month crash course in terminology was never valid and is even less so today. People entering training for careers in the profession understand that there are very difficult courses to be taken and that prior knowledge can help. This often comes in the form of prerequisite courses which are useful in helping a student better understand new material.

Different Prerequisites for Different Programs

Standard prerequisites for medical coding academic programs are a high school diploma or GED equivalent. The need for course prerequisites does depend on the program the student is entering. For example:

  • Durham Technical Community College of Durham, North Carolina, does not insist on prerequisites for its medical coding program; however, it does recommend prior coursework for those who have no experience in medical work. This would mean that a student should consider taking Expanded Medical Terminology prior to enrolling in Medical Coding I.
  • The American Health Information Management Association expects that those who enroll in the Coding Basics Program will have taken college level study of basic Human Anatomy and Physiology, and successfully passed with a grade of “C” or higher.
  • Drexel University Online requires that anyone taking Medical Billing II must have completed Medical Billing I first. The same is true for Physician-Based Medical Coding II, which requires the I level course be on the transcript.

What Is the Purpose of Having Prerequisites?

The main purpose of prerequisites for a program – be it prior education or work experience – is to facilitate the process of learning and absorbing the primary course material. While a cynical person may think that prerequisites are just part of a scheme to milk dollars out of a student, it’s really the desire for a student to succeed that motivates many academic programs to insist on these requirements. If prerequisites do nothing else, they help students develop the mindset necessary to more easily acquire the knowledge they need to perform competently without having to be retrained once employed.

Additional Considerations

Something else to remember about prerequisite courses: tuition isn’t going down anytime soon. A person who is new to the area of medical terminology can be caught in a vicious cycle of taking and dropping classed repeatedly. This is may be due to a fear of failure or a simple lack of understanding the material. Medical studies are not like taking liberal arts courses. The material can be extremely technical and hard to grasp for somebody who is not familiar with biological or physiological subjects.

For some people, prerequisites are an introduction to an unfamiliar area. Taking them can also make a person decide whether or not to pursue the program further. That’s important, as it is better to figure out that medical coding is not the right career path while taking prerequisites that  than after having spent a considerable amount of time and money. Conversely, prerequisites may help guide a student to a particular area of the field, be it inpatient or outpatient coding, that best suits their individual interests and will motivate them to pursue further training in that area.


  1. It really ddeenps on the level of courses which you are describing. Many universities will only accept courses for transfer credit if you supply a syllabus for them to study. They want to make sure that the difficulty and level are equivalent to what they are actually offering. Also, by 112 units, do you mean 112 credits? If that was the case, I would be confused. In the United States a bachelor’s degree usually requires 120 credit hours of course work for completion of the degree. The vast majority of universities won’t accept more than 60 credit hours for transfer; the equivalent of two years of college. This is done so that the degree-granting institution is actually giving a degree to a student that actually did work in their school. I would recommend checking on this stipulation, or you could run into problems and lose a lot of the credits you’ve already complete.Honestly, at this point, it might be easier for you to finish your degree at the University of the Philippines, especially since Sacramento State isn’t exactly a great college. Good luck with whatever you choose.Hope I was able to help!

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