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.  

  • Unfortunately my current place of employment does not have a CDI team.  We have several separate departments that handle components like a CDI team, but the organization has yet to officially designate a group as a CDI team.  That being said, the organization also lacks a clinical person who "speaks the language" of providers and clinical staff, so as you can imagine, there is a huge deficiency in quality, performance, financial optimization, etc.  I am hoping my successful completion and subsequent understanding of the foundations of CDI will at least catch the eye of either my current employer or another.  I'm going to call around to local organizations that have CDI teams and see if they will allow me to "shadow" one of their CDIS. I am willing to learn and willing to do just about anything within reason to get on board.  Can you think of anything else I can do that will help? Thank you again for sharing your advice, I have so many questions and am grateful for your direction.
  • I understand your frustration, and admire your self motivation in learning. I do hope your organization supports you in these efforts as it will benefit from it. the effort to shadow will be very beneficial to you. I would suggest as you network with local organizations to find someone who is willing to mentor your efforts. i have found in general  CDI professionals are always willing to share. It is demonstrated by the discussions found on this forum. So i would suggest you follow them, and dont be afraid to enter the threads with questions that you see as simple or entry level. We were all there and are willing to share. 

    ACDIS was just in its early years when i started as a lone CDI in a hospital. I was so excited to read the blogs and posts and see there people out there doing what I was doing. The apprenticeship is a great start, read our CDI Strategies posts, the journal etc. And dont be shy about contacting people and asking for help. the worst they can say is "no".

    i would also reach out to the coding team at your organization, even if they work remotely they likely are willing to share help and guidance. It might be helpful to go to their educational opportunities and staff meetings as well. 

    In general, talk CDI with anyone and everyone willing to listen. If there is a member of your medical staff who is interested- share what you are learning and create an ally with a voice who can support you. 
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