As incoming president for the Arizona Health Information Association and after serving on the board for four years, one thing has become clear – AHIMA and its Component State Associations (CSAs) rely on all of us to move the HIM profession into the future.
I started by volunteering in Ohio where we had numerous regional associations. As my career progressed and the stresses of work and daily life started to mount, I figured the associations had plenty of other people who could help, so I stopped volunteering. What I didn’t realize is what I missed out on for those years – networking opportunities, learning more about AHIMA, promoting my profession, and most of all, supporting my profession.
While only you can gauge how much you are able to support AHIMA and its CSAs, I encourage you to find ways to get as involved as you can. There are several opportunities with different time commitments, so there’s something for everyone.
Volunteering is an opportunity to make your voice heard and share your expertise at the state and national level. AHIMA exists to not only benefit the health industry, but it provides a wealth of benefits to us as professionals, as well as to the HIM professionals of the future.
- At the state level, you can volunteer to be part of task forces and general committees, and AHIMA CSAs all have board positions that offer unique opportunities to serve with perks such as paid leadership conferences, paid attendance to the House of Delegates at the AHIMA convention, and some states even pay for you to attend the annual AHIMA convention.
- At the national level, AHIMA has a wide-range of opportunities with varying time commitments, so you are sure to find something that interests you and that fits into your busy schedule. Mentor Match, AHIMA Practice Councils, writing opportunities for AHIMA newsletters or even the Journal of AHIMA, speaking at the annual convention, and so many more. AHIMA members can find volunteer opportunities on AHIMA’s website.
2. Maintain Your Credentials
Maintaining your credentials is not just a job requirement. It demonstrates your commitment to and expertise in the field of HIM. As part of this commitment, lifelong learning is essential. While you may have to pay your own way when earning continuing education units (CEUs) that are required to maintain credentials, there are plenty of opportunities to earn CEUs that may be free or low cost.
- Check out local and state conferences – you can take advantage of learning opportunities and network with colleagues.
- Your state association may also host webinars so you can earn CEUs right from home.
- Other organizations, like himagine, also offer webinars. Our monthly webinars are free and open to any coders, not just himagine employees so you can earn up to 12 free CEUs a year! Webinar topics are posted on our home page every month and registration is quick and easy.
- Consider taking college courses – did you know that many CSAs offer scholarships that can help pay for your education?
- Does your company offer professional development funds that you can use to attend training? Find out and take advantage of this great benefit.
And of course, if you have invested time and money into your education, be sure to take the credentialing test. When you’ve passed a certification exam, it demonstrates to your current and future employers that you have a high level of coding knowledge and are proficient in your field.
Want a quick way to get involved? Vote in state and national elections. You’ll get to know the leadership and understand the priorities for the coming year so you can decide how best to support the association and the profession.
One way himagine has found to ensure the growth of our profession is by mentoring HIM students through their practicum. In 2017, we sponsored three students and plan to mentor at least two more in 2018. The students benefit from the access we provide to our learning management system, which allows them to enhance their coding and CDI knowledge.
Mentoring is just one of many ways you can be involved. Want more ideas? AHIMA has developed a great resource for its members: You're the Boss - Put Your AHIMA Membership to Work!
Being an an advocate for the HIM profession is important not just for us as HIM professionals, but for the health industry in general. It’s easy to do your part to support AHIMA's mission of “transforming healthcare by leading HIM, Informatics, and Information Governance.”
I’d love to hear how you support the HIM profession. Share your stories and ideas in the comments section below.