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Are You Ready to Become a Medical and Billing Specialist?

Photo by: The National Guard

If you’ve been wondering about setting your feet on a path in the health care industry but don’t feel that you have the talents required for hands on medical work, you might be interested in entering the field through an administrative capacity. As a medical billing and coding specialist, you’ll be joining a field that is growing at an exponential rate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is expected to have a 22% increase between now and 2022. This will open up very profitable career opportunities for those who can master the talent and skill for this type of work.

What You Need

To enter into the field of medical billing and coding there are some very specific skills you’ll need to have. Some can be taught at medical billing and coding courses in New Jersey, while others are basic lifetime skills that you develop over years.

Detail Oriented: Working with health records requires one to be very specific and detail oriented. You will be responsible for handling medical records that can have an impact on a person’s life, so it must be managed with efficiency and accuracy.

Discretion: You’ll also need to have the ability to keep matters confidential so that you protect a patient’s right to privacy. You will be handling sensitive data about a patient’s personal life and health, so you’ll need to be discrete.

Assertive: You’ll have to interact with a number of different people; physicians, administrators, insurance companies, etc. There will be times when you’ll need to assert yourself and diffuse certain situations in order to resolve certain problems.

Analytical: It may be necessary to analyze medical information in order to code it properly in the system. For that, a basic knowledge of medical terminology as well as human anatomy will be needed.

Technical: It will also be important to master the technical side of the industry. Dealing with electronic records, mastering new software programs, and keeping abreast of the many changes that will continue to happen in the industry will be the key to your success.

Being a medical billing and coding specialist is not just a matter of doing paperwork. There is a lot more involved in the career choice. However, if you feel that you have already mastered these 5 basic skills and are ready to enter this highly rewarding career, take the next step and visit one of the New Jersey Tech Schools to enroll.

A Day in the Life of a Medical Assistant

As many of our students prepare for their careers in the medical and dental industries, it becomes increasingly important to prepare students for the daily tasks and duties in the professional world as well as the theoretical framework it will take for them to get there. While medical assistants, including those who study phlebotomy, may go into fields with remarkably specialized disciplines, they also need to understand the core duties that will make up the bulk of their time in the medical office. Below, we look at some of these core duties and what they entail.


Schedule & Set-Up


One of the core functions of most medical assistants will always be reviewing that day’s itinerary and preparing the rooms, equipment, charts, and more for the physicians. Based on the schedule, medical assistants are required to set up the equipment and the examination room for each patient. This includes paying close attention to rules and regulations about equipment, sterilization, and disinfection, ensuring that the exam table and equipment are clean and ready to be used on a new patient. Housekeeping like this is an important way to set the tone for new patients visiting your practice; this helps maximize the time that the patient is able to spend with the physician, as well as establishing a safe, predictable, clean environment for patients who may be visiting the office. Patients can often show signs of stress or discomfort just coming to a doctor’s office; by ensuring the practice is kept in order and the doctor’s have the tools and materials at their disposal to effectively care for a patient, medical assistants essentially keep the practice running as quickly and as efficiently as possible.




Probably the one role that many commonly associate with a medical assistant is prepping the patient for the visit of the physician by performing typical tests and pertinent procedures. Medical assistants will help patients prepare for their appointment with the physician by taking vital signs and other measurements for doctors. Many medical assistants take blood pressure, temperature, height, weight, and more to note any irregularities that may prove to be integral insights for the physician. This initial screening goes straight onto the patient chart, allowing the medical assistant to be agile in moving from patient to patient while effectively preparing the physician to spend more time with their patient and get a comprehensive glimpse into their overall health.


In addition to having a firm understanding behind what healthy vitals look like for different age groups and populations, medical assistants should be intimately familiar with medications, their side effects, and common health issues that may be affecting their patients. Doctors will often rely on medical assistants to collect information about any potential allergies the patient may have, current prescriptions, and basic information about medical history. This helps the doctor to get insight into their current state of health and saves time in diagnosis, but it also helps to set the expectations of the patient to better prepare them for the physician.


Administrative & Appointments


In addition to hands-on help like the items mentioned above, medical assistants also spend a portion of their day as administrative assistants. The administrative capacity of a medical assistant is usually simply communicating with patients to relay information about prescriptions, conditions or diagnoses, or simply follow-up information for previous appointments. Essentially, medical assistants tend to act as a liaison in between the doctor and the patient. Because the medical assistant is so vital to this communication process, it’s very critical that they have a comprehensive understanding of how to communicate sensitive, delicate information with tact and precision. In many ways, the medical assistants are the front line of communication for a medical office.

For more information on becoming a medical assistant in New Jersey or other coursework, contact us today.

Why Good Oral Hygiene Supports More than Just a Great Smile

Every dentist, hygienist and dental assistant in New Jersey will tell you that excellent overall health starts at the top – with good oral hygiene. Researchers have discovered that there is a direct link between the health of your mouth, teeth and gums and your overall, general health. In addition, they’ve also found evidence linking poor oral hygiene to conditions like heart disease, an increased risk of stroke, oral cancer, high cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and more.

Poor Oral Hygiene Affecting Mental Health

Aside from profound risks to your overall health, the status of your oral hygiene quality can affect your very mood each day – your happiness, your confidence, and your overall attitude towards things. When a person’s gums, teeth and mouth are well-taken care of, are healthy, and look good, that person will tend to smile more often and without reserve.

On the contrary, people with poorer oral hygiene are less likely to show their teeth when they smile, and oftentimes feel less confident around others. When poor oral hygiene results in pain in the mouth or teeth, a person will often be more focused on that pain and less focused on enjoying life in general. There is a strong connection between gum disease and stress, anxiety and depression, ultimately resulting in a lack of self-esteem, a constant worry over what others may think, and other difficulties regarding interactions with others.

Evidence to Support the Link between Oral Health and General Health

Some additional overall health issues that researchers have found links with poor oral hygiene include kidney disease, pregnancy complications, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease as well. In fact, researchers have found that chronic inflammation of the gums early in life quadruples a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The bacteria P. gingivalis, found in debris and in the gums, has been found in the brains of several patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers are currently studying whether or not the bacteria could be a direct cause of dementia or not.

Start Now: Improve Oral Hygiene and Reduce Health Risks

The good news is that it’s never too late to improve the health of your mouth and decrease your risk for social, physical and mental damage that could stem from poor oral hygiene. Proper brushing habits, daily flossing, and maintaining regular dental check-ups are some of the best things people can do to not only improve their oral health, but also their overall health. It’s a good idea to consult with your dentist as well as your dental assistant in New Jersey regarding specific steps you can take to improve your smile.

When a person suffers from the results of poor oral habits, it results in more than just bad breath and unattractive teeth. There are several serious issues, both mental and physical, that can affect a person and his or her body that stem from a lack of good oral health and hygiene.

Job Prospects for Dental Assistants in New Jersey


The medical and dental field offer some of the brightest prospects for jobs across the board; by the very nature of it, this is a service that demands expertise and a service that will literally always have a place in our society. However, many who are looking for the next chapter in their career want to know a bit more about the job market, so we thought we’d take a look at exactly what that looks like for those that choose explore a career as a dental assistant in New Jersey.

Our dental assistant program also includes a focus in dental radiology, an important consideration for those considering going into the medical or dental field. The experience and knowledge that our students glean working with dental X-Rays greatly enhances their prospects for employment.

Job Outlook and Similar Occupations

The job outlook for those looking to become a dental assistant is certainly on the rise; recent medical research linking oral health and general oral hygiene to your overall physical well-being continues to rise. This means that those looking to pursue a career as a dental assistant will continue to have job security, as the gap between dental work and general medical practice continues to narrow.

Prospects believe that the dental assistant field will grow 25% over the next decade, as the increased demand for preventative dental work grows. Dental assistants will continue to be hired in order to complete more routine tasks and allow the dentist to see more patients and grow their practice. Similarly, this also frees up the dentists to perform more complex procedures.

The projected job growth for those in the dental assistant field is also tied to demographics; the Bureau of Labor suggests that as the baby-boom population ages, there is a growing population with a need to maintain healthy adult teeth, which increases the need for dental care across the board. In addition, the federal legislation that has led to increased dental coverage will increase those actively searching out a dentist, intensifying the demand for capable dentists and paving a pathway for growth within the industry.

Those with expertise in the field may also grow into other medical assistant positions, occupational therapy assistants. However, many dental assistants grow their knowledge in order to become a registered dental assistant (RDA) in expanded functions or hygienist.

Our graduates are able to acquire hands-on experience in the industry through our network of industry professionals, including medical and dental offices around the state of New Jersey. Contact us today to learn more about how you can start your new career as a dental assistant.


Medical Billing & Coding Modifiers for 2015

Medical billing and coding is an exciting career for anyone looking to establish themselves in a growing field that is always in demand. Professionals in the billing and coding field help provide a pivotal role that helps translate the medical procedures in a way that can be universally understood by insurance companies and health care groups. However, this unique language is also always in flux; a career in medical billing and coding requires a certain flexibility. Codes, modifiers, and more are frequently added, removed, or changed based on different changes in healthcare. For instance, this year, Medicare has rolled out four new modifiers based on changes in procedure. Below, we take a look at what this group looks like.

Effective as of January of this year, Medicare established a series of modifiers -X{EPSU}, to more specifically describe certain procedures, commonly referred to as EPSU modifiers. Individually, they break down like this:


This modifier signifies a separate encounter, or a medical service that is distinct because it occurred during a separate encounter.


This is a service that might be distinct on a document because it was performed by a different practitioner.


This is a distinct service because it’s performed on a separate organ or structure.


This is a unique service that doesn’t overlap to what would normally fall within the scope of that particular service.

The logic behind these modifiers is to serve as a subset of modifier 59, and help bring more accuracy and accountability to one of the most frequently used modifiers in the field. “Modifier 59 is not going away and will continue to be a valid modifier according to Medicare,” said Manny Oliverez at Capture Billing Medical Billing Services. “However modifier 59 should NOT be used when a more appropriate modifier, like a XE, XP, XS or XU modifier, is available.”

These modifiers perform crucial functions for billing departments and insurance companies everywhere, helping to translate the services provided into the claims and funds required for each procedure. However, more specific codes give a much-needed lens into protecting both the insured, and the provider.

For more information on how to begin your career in this increasingly critical role as a medical billing and coding professional, contact ACI today!

The Five Types of Human Teeth & Their Function

While many of us may not put too much thought into our teeth every day, their importance and function in our daily lives cannot be underestimated. From chewing our food to helping us smile and speak, teeth perform such a vital role in the way we live. However, aside from those studying to become a dental assistant, there are probably few who really critically think about the different types of teeth and the role they play in our lives.

Rather than delve into the benefits of oral hygiene, today we wanted to take a closer look into the different types of teeth we have and their use. While different numbers abound, it’s generally accepted that we have three different types of teeth: Incisors, canines, and molars. Yet, many will happily distinguish between the three different types of molars, including premolars and third molars. That leaves us with five different types of teeth. Below, we explore each type of tooth and its function in the mouth.




Incisors are often the first adult teeth that grow in after our primary teeth, or baby teeth, and make up most of our smile. There are eight incisors in the mouth; four in the top-center of our mouth and four in the bottom-center. These teeth are characteristically thin, flat-bottom teeth that help us to make the initial bite on our food. We bite into food with our incisors, tugging and pulling into our mouths. Incisors have a narrow-edge, and are adapted for cutting. The incisors are situated between the cuspids, or canines, and are often referred to as anterior teeth or front teeth because of their prevalence in smiling and talking.

Cuspids / Canines

Cuspids, also known as canines, are the closest link between the human mouth and that of a carnivorous predator, like a tiger or wolf. Mirroring the pointed teeth we associate with predatory animals and vampires, these are sharp, pointed teeth on either side of our incisors that are used to do exactly what they look like they are meant to do–tear into food and rip it apart. These pointed teeth usually come in permanently around the ten year mark, with the bottom cuspids arriving just before the upper cuspids. One feature of cuspids and canine teeth is the fact that they are our longest teeth, with a pointed end, and surprisingly, only one implanted root. Canines rip food, but their position on either side of the mouth help guide the mouth and other teeth into the best biting position.


Molars are our main masticators–that is, molars are the teeth we most commonly associate with chewing. While many may only recognize three types of teeth rather than five, the discrepancy comes in distinguishing between different types of molars.

Molars are simply large teeth with a flatter surface that are used to chew food into small, easily consumable pieces. Let’s look at the different types of molars below.

Premolars / Bicuspids

Premolars, or first molars, are our first molar teeth that tend to come in around twelve or thirteen years of age. Premolars sit next to the cuspids in the mouth and are the foremost molars in the mouth.

Wisdom Teeth / Third Molars

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are often referred to as third molars because they are the last teeth to come into the mouth. Many often get their wisdom teeth removed; these teeth sit so far back in the jaw that they can often cause issues if not removed.

For more information on dentistry, teeth, or how to start your new career as a dental assistant, contact ACI today


How Phlebotomists Determine Blood Type

As students work their way through to becoming a Medical Assistant, they will study a number of different aspects to the trade–EKG technology, patient care technology and billing and coding can all be crucially important aspects of the curriculum. However, many will leave our courses, and move onto an internship or career where drawing blood is part of standard patient care. Phlebotomy and blood work are a vital fundamental in the medical field. However, as different blood types pulse through the veins of different patients, we wanted to examine how blood type is determined.


What’s blood made of?

Blood is made of four parts: Red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Blood types are determined by referring to different combinations of certain molecules or antigens that are on the surface of the red blood cells. The antigens cause the blood to behave differently, including clotting or interacting with different compounds in a unique way.

There are eight different blood types, A positive or negative, AB positive or negative, B positive or negative, and O positive or negative. Each of these represents a different combination of antigens on the surface of the red blood cells, and antibodies in the blood plasma. Since your blood type stays the same throughout your life, you usually need to test for your type just once; but for those that want to know how blood type is determined, we wanted to walk you through the test itself.

How Do they Determine Blood Types?

In order to determine blood type, medical assistants or phlebotomists need to find out which antigens are on the surface of each red blood cell and which antibodies exist within the plasma. To do so, phlebotomists will need to prepare tubes with reagents with the A, B, and Rh antibodies. Then, a sample of the blood goes into each tube where reactions are monitored and tested to determine blood type.

Phlebotomists then measure how the blood has reacted to each specific mixture of regents. Typically, these bloodwork professionals need to look for agglutination–instances where the blood may clot or coagulate when coming into contact with a particular reagent. If the blood clots, it indicates that the blood has reacted with a certain antibody within the plasma, and is therefore not compatible with blood containing that particular antibody.

Based on this study at, we can then use the Rh test tube and A/B test tubes to decode each blood type.

“No agglutination in test tube A, indicates that the patient’s red blood cells do not have A antigens.

Agglutination in the tube containing B antibodies indicates that the patients’ red blood cells have got B antigens, thus belongs to blood group B.”

Rh antigents are tested the same way, allowing phlebotomists to append the corresponding positive or negative to each blood type.

Phlebotomists are required to pay close attention to blood type. Blood type is a crucially important consideration for a host of different medical procedures, including transfusions, blood donations, and much more. To learn more about how you can start your new career as a Medical Assistant specializing in phlebotomy, contact us today.

A Year On: Obamacare and Its Effect on Medical Office Specialists and Medical Billing & Coding Staff in New Jersey

We look at how the Affordable Care Act has impacted a few different practices around the state and what this means for the medical industry as a whole. 

With the health care policies being bandied about Capitol Hill, it can be a little overwhelming to try to get a sense of how new legislation on health is affecting the medical field as a whole. While decision-makers, diplomats, and policy writers debate on the merits of a more affordable insurance system or a more robust pathway to health care for most Americans, it can get a little challenging to pick apart what this means for the career landscape as a whole. Let’s take a look at how the Affordable Care Act and other health legislation is impacting the immediate medical office environment in New Jersey.

ACI Blog 2.2.2015


Newly Insured Patients Lead the Road to the Doctor’s Office

While Obama’s Affordable Care Act has certainly influenced the shape of the healthcare industry over the past year, it primarily assisted in ensuring that there were paths to acquire insurance for people who had lived without medical attention for so long. In an article on, many medical offices report that the newly insured, or those who have lived without insurance for a long time, led the list of patients that were treated under policies that had arisen from changes in legislation. The reaction from the medical profession was one of delight, mitigated ever so slightly by how increasing demand is going to be met.

“The good news is that people do have insurance, so they are coming to see the doctor. I am seeing people who have not been to the doctor in a long time,” says Saradarian. “A lot of people don’t seem to understand that you (could come to a doctor without insurance).”

While other practices also saw increases, in some cases, they were not nearly as pronounced. In the same piece, the author speaks to another medical office who did see an uptick in the amount of patients seeking care, but a minimal one at best. However, they were planning on increased activity over the coming years, and were continuing to hire doctors and staff to accommodate.

For those working in the medical office, a big emphasis for these new patients will be a conversation surrounding expectations, and helping to mediate the process and procedure of dealing with an insurance agent, and what that means for health care costs. It seems likely that with more insured people seeking medical care for the first time in years, the amount of doctors to treat those patients will need to increase, but so too, will the support staff.

Inside and Outside Dental Radiology

For those outside of the medical and dental fields, it can be surprising at just how much technology goes into our health and hygiene, and how desperately we have come to rely on this technology. While many think of dental radiology as a technological achievement that merely dictates whether or not you might have a cavity or broken tooth, dental radiology also helps dentists to scan the overall bone density of the teeth themselves and spot problems that may not be visible to the naked eye.

In some instances, it’s this very procedure that has been able to identify the depletion of bone density near the center of the tooth, something wholly invisible to the naked eye or those using the explorer. In fact, this technology has become so important and intrinsic to the way in which dental examinations occur, that the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) suggests that dental X-Rays account for about 21% of all X-Rays, becoming the most widespread use of radiologic exams. Today, we wanted to look at two very different sides to dental radiology by focusing on different locations for different types of common dental X-Rays.

Intraoral Dental Radiology

Intraoral dental radiology refers to dental X-Rays that occur within the mouth. Intraoral dental radiology is broken up into a few different categories:

  • Bitewing
  • Intraoral Apical Radiography
  • Intraoral Occlusal View
  • The Full Mouth Series

Intraoral dental radiology is created by putting the film or sensor within the mouth before taking the radiograph. The patient is protected by a lead apron or something similar in order to protect from the radiation, which is around 0.15 mSv, about the same as one would receive in a cross-country airplane flight. However, this radiation is concentrated to a small area and a very quick dose. Let’s look at how this radiation and the corresponding intraoral X-Rays are used to diagnose problems with teeth.

The Bitewing View

The Intraoral bitewing view is among the most common dental X-Ray procedures that occur nationwide. This view is used to evaluate the interproximal decay and bone loss of the posterior teeth. Bitewing X-Rays are often preferred by dentists, because they can accurately depict the bone levels more than other views of the mouth.

The Periapical View

The periapical view is a dental radiograph that is taken of both anterior and posterior teeth. Many suggest that this particular view is used to help the dentist get further information on the root of the tooth and its overall health, and allows doctors and dentists to view the teeth alongside the surrounding bone all in one exposure.

The Intraoral Occlusal View

This specialty X-Ray usually looks for certain anatomical abnormalities, and is taken from the bottom of the jaw under the chin, or angled down from the nose. This view is a unique view that looks at the floor of the mouth as well as the palate, and uses up to four times the size of the film that the other intraoral views typically use. The occlusal view is not included in the Full Mouth Series, and instead represents a unique X-Ray that serves a very specific purpose for dentists.

The Full Mouth Series

The full mouth series is exactly what it sounds like. This is a complete set of intraoral dental radiographs that help the doctor give insight on all of the patients’ teeth as well as any tissue nearby the bone and the root. This series is a series of up to eightteen different images, all taken the same day, that include both bitewings and periapicals.

Extraoral Radiographs


Panoramic radiography is taken with the film and exposure right in front of the mouth, and looks at the whole mouth and all teeth all at once. This was introduced in order to quickly get a view and understanding of a patient’s oral health, but was put into practice by the US Army and used to expedite the soldier’s recruiting process.

Unsurprisingly, when looking panoramic views, dentists can often see a quick assessment of the client’s oral health, but don’t offer a granular perception of bone loss or tooth decay on an individual level.

While we may only associate dental radiology with traditional intraoral bitewings, each of these views have a bespoke purpose, and help to further illuminate how technology and X-Rays continue to help enhance our oral health. For more about dental radiology, or to get started with your dental radiology certification, contact us today.


A Guide to New Jersey Career Schools

Are you interested in a career in one of the most exciting industries today? Many of the top career schools in New Jersey offer degrees in a wide range of prosperous fields, including science, technology and healthcare. Among those schools is Advanced Career Institute (ACI). As you begin the next chapter of your life at ACI, one of the very best New Jersey tech schools, or at another institution, it’s important to take into consideration a number of factors.

Will a career school education offer flexible scheduling that fits with my lifestyle?

Think about how you’d like to incorporate your education into your life. Some programs feature class schedules that meet up to five times a week for a more concentrated approach to learning, while others meet more sporadically that give students more flexibility and range to complete their education. Spend some time researching your chosen career school programs to find the right one for you.

How does one career school compare to another?

Many career schools in Monmouth county, including ACI, offer a range of programs in several particular fields of study. You can start by narrowing down your options and choosing the profession that best suits you. With so many options available, it’s important that students take the time to consider what kind of a career will provide them with enjoyable and rewarding work and a reliable form of income.

Can I afford to go to career school? 

While many New Jersey career schools offer classes with good rates, ACI prides itself on its low tuition costs. Research the costs for every school you hope to attend and learn about any financial aid programs or financial assistance programs that might be available at your chosen career school to see if you qualify. Most New Jersey tech schools offer private or federal loans to help students get the education they deserve. Take the time to compare the pros and cons of each career school so you can find the right program at the right price with the right outcomes.

Is career school the right choice for me?

Many potential students wonder if going to career school will provide them with the kind of training that they truly need. If you’re looking for great work experience, hands-on training and the professional skill to jump-start your career, then stop wondering. Whether it is medical assistant programs in NJ, a dental assistant program in NJ, or medical billing and coding program in NJ that you’re looking for, ACI offers students great programs with excellent opportunities to take their careers to the next level. A certification from ACI or another career school significantly increases a student’s ability to find a job in their chosen industry by building valuable skills and making connections. Discover your full potential with a certification from ACI and see how far you can go!

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