Note from the Instructor: Grow the profession

CDI Strategies - Volume 15, Issue 7

by Laurie Prescott, RN, MSN, CCDS, CCDS-O, CDIP, CRC

I recently had a conversation with a CDI specialist working in Canada. The profession is very young there and has not had the benefit of the years of growth and resource building we have had in the United States. I found her comments refreshing and invigorating.

Often, one of the unfortunate side effects of maturity is a jaded view or one that has become tarnished over time. This young CDI specialist’s excitement over the role, her passion to learn and grow was infectious. She brought me back to when I first started in this industry almost 15 years ago.

I felt like I was the only CDI specialist in the world. My days were spent constantly explaining to anyone who would listen what I did, what the purpose was, and how I was going to change the world! And when I was not educating others about my mission, I was seeking validation, educational opportunities, networking. I knew there were others like me but they were difficult to find.

I remember the day I found the ACDIS Blog in a Google search. The angels sang, fireworks burst in the sky! There were people out there like me! There were other people in the world who already knew what I did before they asked. There were people out there that could teach me more and help me grow and, perhaps with a little more confidence, I might have something to teach them.

My conversation with the young CDI specialist brought all these memories into focus. It cleared away the tarnish of age. This is precisely why I love teaching our Boot Camps and other educational opportunities. The shiny new CDI specialist brings that passion to the game and makes us older CDI professionals refocus and relocate our passion.

To make the point short and sweet: we experienced mature CDI specialists need the newer, developing CDI specialists to refresh our view to keep us on our game as much as these young professionals need us to share our experience and mentor their development.

I feel the frustration of those trying to enter the profession. Like in many other fields, candidates feel they can’t get a job without experience, and of course the only way to gain experience is to get a job. I want to remind all those in the position to hire and expand your department that there was a day, long ago when you had no experience either.

There are benefits to hiring an individual who is less experienced, one of which is that it may reinvigorate your team, allowing recognition of their skills and experience and the opportunity to grow while mentoring one less experienced. We learn by teaching. One reason I have enjoyed my teaching opportunities is that I learn just as much from my students as they learn from me. They help me raise that bar every time I teach.

I understand that not every inexperienced individual provides the best opportunity as a new hire and experience does matter consider the other skills a person needs to succeed in CDI. Here is my list, but I would love to know what you value.

I want an individual with strong communication skills, who is unintimidated by a person’s title or profession or standing. I want a person who understands assertive communication, knowing it is not disrespectful to share your view or to offer a challenge to the status quo. I want an individual who believes in lifelong learning, who’s willing to research and willing to seek guidance from others. I want a person who can apply critical thinking to every situation, who is uncomfortable going with the flow.

Lastly, I look for an individual who’s comfortable with the uncomfortable. This means I’m looking for an individual who recognizes they may not be perfectly prepared for every situation they encounter, but they can adjust on the fly. A person who will recognize that one can only learn at the edge of their comfort zone.

If you can find a person like I have described above, with a commitment and drive to succeed, you may not need the experience. The experience will develop over time, and with your mentorship, you will ensure the individual learns the correct and compliant way. You will have a loyal staff member, coworker, and a future mentor for new staff. You will infuse that new shiny passion into your professional life.

Editor’s note: Prescott is the CDI education director at HCPro. Contact her at

Found in Categories: 
CDI Expansion, Education