Isn’t it interesting to look at an individual’s business card to see what comes after their name? Is it just a name with a business logo and the business name? Or are there perhaps one or more acronyms following the name to indicate their professional credentials? Regardless of the number of credentials a person holds, how long and hard must that individual work to maintain them? The answer, in my humble opinion, is that anyone holding credentials, regardless of the quantity, must work diligently to not only maintain their credential or credentials but to make their credential(s) truly meaningful by staying current and relevant in their industry knowledge.

For example, an HIM professional holding both an RHIA and a CCS requires 40 Continuing Education Units (CEUs), equivalent to 1 hour each, just to maintain those credentials. Additionally, that same HIM professional must also be proactive to achieve the goal of remaining current in their chosen profession. To clarify further, an HIM colleague, who holds both the RHIA and CCS credentials, recently shared with me that, “Yes, 1 CEU is equal to 1 clock hour, however, in addition to this I spend an average of 100 clock hours per year on self-education, none of which is CEU eligible.”

First, let’s define proactive. An adjective, it means, “tending to initiate change rather than reacting to events; of or denoting a mental process that affects a subsequent process.” In a nutshell, being proactive means you are dedicated, eager, energetic, enthused-a forward thinker. You recognize that staying up-to-date with the trends and changes taking place in your chosen profession should not be taken for granted and you do the research necessary to accomplish this goal.

MedPartners believes in offering education that is current and relevant to their consultants for every division: Health Information Management (HIM), Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI), Case Management (CM) and Social Worker (SW), Trauma Registry (TR) and Oncology Data Management (ODM). Credentials in these fields are numerous and each has its own set of rules to first acquire the right to use the credential; and second, its own set of criteria to maintain the credential. Examples of some of our consultants healthcare credentials are (not all-inclusive):

  • CCM – Certified Case Manager
  • C-SWCM – Certified social work case manager
  • LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social worker
  • CCDS – Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist
  • CDIP – Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner
  • CSTR – Certified Specialist in Trauma Registries
  • RHIA – Registered Health Information Administrator
  • RHIT – Registered Health Information Technician
  • CCS – Certified Coding Specialist
  • Registered Nurse, Bachelor of Science Nursing, Masters of Science Nursing, PhD-Doctor of Nursing
  • CTR – Certified Tumor Registrar
  • CSTR – Certified Specialist in Trauma Registry
  • CAISS – Certified Abbreviated Injury Scale Specialist

So what is the bottom line when working to remain current in your field of expertise? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep up-to-date on the trends affecting your industry. This is a key part of staying relevant. Staying relevant means consistently anticipating and honing skills that matter.
  • Take control of your own education. Don’t wait for the newest information to fall into your lap-seek it out. How? Participate in employer offered education via whatever vehicle they use. In the case of MedPartners, this would be our Blackboard online Learning Management System (LMS).
  • Subscribe to newsletters, participate in online discussions, and set up Google alerts for industry keywords so you can read the latest news from industry leaders.
  • Become active in your professional organization nationally and locally. Find a mentor or offer to be a mentor.

A MedPartners coding professional recently commented that the opportunity to participate in challenging education through Blackboard is “a good reminder to us all that learning and practice is very much a part of our profession.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Now get out there and be proactive!

Virginia Bailey, RN, CCDS

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