Are you new to the CDI profession?

Are you new to the CDI profession? What made you want to try CDI?


  • Hi!  I am new to CDI profession.  I have always had an affinity for data and numbers.  Analysis and interpretation of data as well as utilizing data for quality improvement.  I recognize the inconsistency between care and services provided and how that care is reported and subsequently utilized and reimbursed.  I'd like guidance on how to get started; other than the acdis apprenticeship, what other skills, experience, and/or education could I pursue to help me ascertain an initial position in a CDI team?  Do you all recommend coding certification?  Did anyone start out as auditors or medical claims reviewers? Thanks for the advice!
  • Great question, your skills in data interpretation and quality improvement definitely will assist you in your CDI journey. The learning curve as a CDI is a steep one. I don't necessarily think a coding certification is needed but do stress you should work to understand how codes are assigned. If you could take an opportunity to "shadow" an inpatient coder for a day it would be helpful. The coder could teach you how to use a code book, how to use the encoding software. It is helpful to also read and understand the Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting. I am assuming you came from a nursing background- if you feel particularly weak in a specific clinical area it is helpful to review conditions common in that clinical area. If you have access to others in the CDI role shadowing them at work is helpful as well. 

    There are many routes to the role of CDI, I have seen CDI specialists who have worked in a number of roles related to case management, utilization review, quality and abstracting, coding, medical billing etc. 
  • Thank you for your response! Yes, I come from a nursing background.  I'm an RN, MSN with emphasis in Informatics.  Clinically, I worked primarily in pediatrics so I will take your advice and review conditions for other populations/demographics.  Most places looking for CDI want individuals that have experience already in documentation improvement.  I am trying to get my foot in the door, but feel I may not have the precise experience potential employers are looking for.  Would you recommend starting out in case management or utilization review?
  • Many CDI professionals have entered the profession from the case management role but I don't necessarily think that is a requirement. CDI record reviews and those of case management, are although slightly similar they are different as well. i tell people a case manager reviews the record to see what is there- a CDI reviews the record to see what is missing. If you are presently working at an organization that has a CDI team i would suggest you ask if you can attend their educational settings or team meetings. Many CDI specialists also perform reviews related to CMS quality monitors and education related to these programs, working with the quality department may be helpful. 

    I was hired into the role, to start a new department with absolutely no understanding of the role. The HIM Director stated that I had the correct personality- meaning I had strong communication skills and writing skills, I was assertive, I was comfortable with the role of teaching and speaking to physicians. My guess is that if you completed your master's degree you have many of those same qualities. Demonstrating a willingness to learn is likely the biggest strength you bring to the table and that is invaluable.  

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