As Region Director for the Texas Health Information Management Association and after serving as President for Alamo Area HIMA, one thing is clear – AHIMA and its Component State Associations (CSAs) rely on all of us to move the HIM profession into the future.
Volunteering is vital to both our state and national associations. I started by volunteering in Texas where we have numerous regional associations. First as a guest speaker at quarterly AAHIMA meetings, then I ran for office and was honored to serve as President-Elect, President and Past President (3 year term). Now, I serve at the state level as Region 11 Director and national level as a speaker at our annual AHIMA conventions. Many times throughout my career and even today as the stresses of work and daily life start to mount, sometimes I consider giving up my volunteerism, then it hits me, think of all I’d be missing if I did that – 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.
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. Since 2017, we have sponsored dozens of students and continue to make this an annual event. The students benefit from the access we provide to our learning management system, which allows them to enhance their coding and CDI knowledge.
Being an advocate for the HIM profession is important not just for us as HIM professionals, but for the health industry in general. I’d love to hear how you support the HIM profession. Share your stories and ideas in the comments section below.