It’s important to pause a moment to recognize the volunteer members of our Model Curriculum Task Force for their visionary leadership to drive this change. They crafted bold recommendations to update the Model Curriculum, including this title change and requiring instructors of healthcare documentation to hold a CMT credential. The National Leadership Board applauds them for their work and acting as change agents within AHDI.
Crucial conversations around the future and transformation of the profession are not simple or taken lightly. Careful and thoughtful deliberation drives the decision-making process. This post will cover how this decision was reached by our National Leadership Board and the rationale given the historic nature of this change. It’s important to acknowledge the overwhelming agreement that it was time to shed the title of medical transcriptionist for one that would deliver a renewed level of respect and understanding to our often under-recognized and under-appreciated profession.
At the center of the discussions has been the debate between the terms “clinical” and “health care.” Also discussed were the differences between “specialist,” “analyst,” and “technician.” As you might imagine, these conversations sparked many knowledgeable, thoughtful, and passionate responses. When the Task Force presented their recommendations to the Board in November 2011, they were unanimously approved as presented that day, which included the title of Clinical Documentation Specialist. The rationale for using the word “clinical” was presented as follows (excerpted from the written executive summary to the Board):
Many schools and programs are taking steps to enhance their approach to career preparation for students of clinical documentation. To some extent, then, the title Clinical Documentation Specialist recognizes not only new realities of the workplace but also evolving thinking among educators.
We have also noted that this change in terminology is consistent with the change in CDIA’s name to reflect that, even though we are not clinicians, the documentation we produce is indeed clinical documentation."
Following the approval, the Board continued their discussions on the title change and the implementation plans. And as difficult as it may be, they reopened the issue for further consideration as they took a close look at potential confusion between clinical documentation specialists and clinical documentation improvement specialists. The concern over potential confusion in the marketplace grew stronger as possible new acronyms for AHDI’s RMT and CMT credentials were brought into the discussion. A small group was established, comprised of Board and Task Force members, to reexamine the title, and we sought input from our strategic partner, the Clinical Documentation Industry Association.
The final results of the discussions clearly pointed to recommending the title healthcare documentation specialist. It aligns with the name of our organization and would not conflict with the credentials already established for clinical documentation improvement specialists (see ACDIS and AHIMA) when we look at potential changes to our RMT and CMT. Furthermore, the possibility of marketplace confusion could not be ignored; and “health care” and “clinical” have been used interchangeably in various settings without a clear distinction between the two.
The title change was brought back for formal reconsideration by the National Leadership Board this month. Following an open discussion, the title Healthcare Documentation Specialist was unanimously approved. Exciting times lie ahead of us as we start to spread the news of this historic change.
In the coming weeks and months, a full communication and transition plan will be developed and launched. We don’t have time to waste! A change of this scope will take time to fully implement, most likely spanning years, but every day we will take a step closer in pushing past the old stereotype that we are just typists to achieving recognition as a valued partner to the frontline clinical decision-making team.
Sherry Doggett, AHDI President &
Linda Brady, CAE, Interim CEO