ACDIS tip: Getting started and transitioning effectively into the role

CDI Strategies - Volume 13, Issue 47

ACDIS frequently fields questions from those working in nursing, coding, case management, and other areas seeking insight into how to gain experience with clinical documentation integrity (CDI) efforts and transition into the role.

One such individual had recently completed ACDIS’ CDI Apprenticeship program. The Apprenticeship is a certificate program comprised of foundational online CDI education paired with a review of core compliance and ethical principles. Candidates who pass the final exam receive a certificate of training and are allowed to designate themselves as an ACDIS-Approved CDI Apprentice. This designation illustrates to potential employers that the individual has taken this career path seriously enough to proactively tackle their own CDI-basic educational needs. At the end of the course, these individuals should have a firm grasp of query definitions, core clinical scenarios requiring query efforts, and elemental ethical foundations related to the CDI practices.

Unfortunately, even with the Apprentice designation this individual was still struggling to find a position. Most programs in her area were looking for individuals with the Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) credential which requires two years of experience, she explained, asking for additional tips or information.

ACDIS prides itself on the welcoming community of its membership. In joining ACDIS, members have access to this network through posting to the ACDIS online forum as well as its chapters and networking groups. Those looking to join the CDI profession should take advantage of these tools and regularly attend local events, dialing into calls if in-person attendance isn’t possible. Tap into the local chapter members to identify those willing to allow a visit for job shadowing purposes to provide greater insight into the daily workings of the role.

ACDIS’ Career Center includes an ever-changing list of openings throughout the country and within these pages job seekers can even sign up for direct postings via a regular email newsletter.

When ready to apply for an opening be sure to include all the background work you’ve accomplished in your cover letter. Those reading it will no doubt see that enthusiasm shine through.

Once you’ve managed to secure the job, don’t think the learning ends. In a recent discussion string on a CDI Facebook community, a new CDI specialist asked “Please tell me its normal to feel overwhelmed when starting in CDI!” which prompted a slew of encouraging responses.

Most said that it takes at least six months to a year to begin to feel comfortable in the role and some said it took them even longer. Others likened the onboarding curve to learning a foreign language. The conversation motivated a woman with just seven-weeks experience on the job to similarly share her feelings of anxiety. “I feel like at times things are clicking and other times, I’m just not sure,” she said. And another individual said, “Two months in and my brain still feels like it’s exploding.”

It’s true that there’s a lot of information to learn but it’s also true that your employer wants you to succeed in the role and so do a lot of other people out there, including us. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and are struggling with a particular content area, feel free to post your question on the ACDIS social media streams at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram (maybe post a picture of you pulling your hair out as you pour over the pages of the CDI Specialist’s Complete Training Guide).