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Since you have been away from it for awhile, you would probably do well brushing up on icd 9, cpt, med term, etc. the best way to break into coding is to start somewhere else in the HIM field, many have found success starting out in medical records, billing or front desk. gain medical experience, maybe mention to a supervisor your desire/interest in coding and see if you can't volunteer or help out the coding dept. after awhile, leverage your experience into a coding job. that is how I did it as well as most people who are coders today.
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understand you want to get your foot in the door, but I still don't understand why you would go for CNA and MA, those are clinical jobs. Have you tried other HIM jobs, in medical records or something similar?

I don't have any advice on how to get into the VA, I got in on my first try and I am not a Vet, nor did I have any connections. I have heard people say that they have gone down to the HR dept at VA and have asked what their resume or KSA's are missing, or what they can add. just an idea
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