It’s an interesting concept, keep your certification(s) you worked so hard for, which you don’t really utilize, and find a way to make it worthwhile and cost worthy to keep it. In my case, I worked so hard to obtain the RHIT (Registered Health Information Technician) and maintaining it seems more like a chore every two years now that I work in the Cancer Registry Field. Maintaining my CTR Certification as well as the RHIT can be costly and time consuming. Each require 20 hours of education every two years. On the flip side, I don’t want to lose my RHIT even though I have not been involved in the HIM field for many years. This makes maintaining this certification (among other certifications in this same field) daunting at times. The HIM field is where I got my feet wet so many years ago, practicing ROI (release of information), medical coding, and medical record management. Like the Cancer Registry field, the Health Information Management field has also changed significantly over the years. This is why it can be so important to complete the continuing education and stay abreast of the changes taking place.
In the past I have attended local HIM association board meetings or completed online quizzes through AHIMA’s website to obtain CEU’s, but this was never enough to meet those CEU requirements and was very time consuming. In my opinion, the most effective way to maintain my CEU’s is to attend a full conference. For RHIT or RHIA, AHIMA or the state association conferences can provide an appropriate number of CEU’s to meet the certification requirements and can be completed in one sitting (or several days) vs over a 2-year period. I am the unfortunate soul whose CTR cycle coincides with my RHIT cycle, and I must complete 20 CEU’s for each certificate every 2 years during the same year. That’s 40 hours of education! A common misconception about these AHIMA conferences (local or national) is that these conferences require attendees to sit through countless boring presentations that do not relate to our Cancer Registry Field, and we will be expected to watch presentations on HIM tasks we will never do. It’s hard not to feel like it’s a waste of your money or time. But I’m here to tell you, it is not!
This year I decided to attend the THIMA (TN Health Information Management Association) meeting in Nashville, TN on March 27th-29th. This meeting allowed me to obtain 19 CEU’s out of the 20 required for my RHIT certificate cycle. With my AHIMA membership dues, I automatically get 4 CEU’s from completing AHIMA’s online courses (which supplements my needed CEU). These courses are usually on a variety of topics that are related to the HIM field. For those with the RHIA (which requires 10 more CEU’s per cycle), utilizing the AHIMA website or attending a partial conference may be ideal to supplement the CEUs not met. I have attended one meeting every two years to maintain my required CEU’s since I obtained them in 2015. This meeting allows members to network with each other and learn about different areas of Health Information Management. As a 100% remote employee it is nice to be able to meet with and talk to other professionals. I met other HIM professionals who were interested in learning about the Cancer Registry Field and in turn allow me to learn more about what they do. There is so much going on in the HIM field as the world changes. Cancer Registry Field can be under-represented at these conferences, making CTRs a rare and interesting addition.
There were lots of great speakers at this event, some speaking on HIM related topics, others were leaders in their fields (such as Information Technology, Philanthropy, Heath Care Administration, Consulting, and Sciences). These speakers discussed an array of topics from volunteering in your community to maintaining the highest level of data security. As a CTR I can relate to these topics, as we work with patients protected health information, electronic medical records, and work with local healthcare institution in our communities every day. Many of the speakers were so inspiring and a joy to listen to. I was blessed to be able to attend in person, along with 90 other individuals also with AHIMA credentials (RHIT, RHIA, CCS, etc.), as well as students, and vendors. After several years of watching these presentations from my computer screen, feeling the energy of the room was incredible! Nothing can replace that vibe you get from being with others. We all gathered for the same reason, the learn and grow and it was a fantastic experience!
In the state of Tennessee there are several regional associations, who also hold annual meetings, which are very inexpensive and fun to attend. These events also offer continuing education and may be within your area (while state-wide or national meeting may not be). I encourage all of you to look into your local AHIMA associations and attend their local or regional meetings to keep your AHIMA credentials active. I also encourage you to ask your friends and colleagues with the AHIMA credentials to join you so they too can learn and grow, and it is always nice to have a friend at these conferences. It is a great opportunity to attend these conferences and I highly support attending. I also encourage you all to join AHIMA’s or your local or state associations Facebook page(s) or other social media channels. These are a great way to spread awareness of these meetings and events.
On an ending note, I don’t plan on dropping the RHIT credential. I worked so hard to get it, and it only takes one conference every 2 years to maintain it. What I can learn in these conferences will stay with me in my personal and professional life for years to come.