Medie M., CDI Specialist
Revenue Cycle September 6, 2022

By Joseph Duffy

CDI Specialist Finds Fulfillment with Contract CDI Jobs

CDI Week, which recognizes healthcare professionals performing clinical documentation integrity (CDI) jobs, takes place from September 12 to 16, 2022.

This year's theme is "Under the Sea-D," which speaks to how clinical documentation specialists (CDS) work hard each day for the benefit of their organization and patients, but typically remain under the surface. They are behind-the-scenes healthcare heroes who can enjoy very fulfilling careers.

Medie M., RN, CCDS, CCS, has been a clinical documentation specialist for over 20 years. She started working as a CDS in 2002 and became a full-time contractor with AMN Healthcare in 2016. She is now with AMN Healthcare's Revenue Cycle Solutions Team, working remotely for the University of Massachusetts Health System.

Medie's daily role is to review inpatients' medical records, analyzing and interpreting documentation and formulating appropriate physician queries when documentation is lacking to support the clinical picture and treatment.

"We review patients on day one of admittance, regardless of payer source, and concurrently while the patient is in the hospital," said Medie. "The CDS may identify lab values or treatment lacking the documentation to support the condition being treated. We try to identify and review at least 98 percent, preferably 100 percent, of all admitted patients with an inpatient status."

The CDS identifies opportunities for complete compliance documentation necessary to support the patient's severity of illness, all secondary diagnoses, risk of mortality, and conditions that affect patient safety indicators. The ability of the CDS to capture these opportunities will have an impact on their patients.

Working as a CDS

Medie started her career as a critical care registered nurse and later became a case manager in a hospital cardiac unit in Little Rock, Arkansas, near her hometown of Lonoke. Her hospital hired a new CEO who had started a CDI program at another hospital and wanted to do the same in Little Rock. Medie was asked to be an inaugural CDS; she agreed, and later became the CDI team leader.

"Once I went through the CDI training, I found it very interesting and rewarding to be able to work with the physicians and see the impact it was making on the hospital," Medie said. "When they audited and showed we had poor documentation from the physicians and how many diagnoses were lacking, being able to pull that all together made an amazing impact, a financial impact, on our organization. I grew up there and knew the people who went to our hospital, and I wanted the hospital to succeed."

From there, she became a director and expanded the CDI program to other campuses within the health system. She would later become a certified CDS and a certified coding specialist (CCS).

After being the director for six years, Medie took a sabbatical and, along with her husband, built their forever home. They worked with an architect on the house for two years, and when finished, she chose not to return to the facility.

In 2016, she received a call from a recruiter from Med Partners, a healthcare staffing company which AMN Healthcare later acquired, and she decided to return to work as a contract CDS.

Today, a contract CDS has to be either a registered nurse or physician, obtain a CCDS (acdis) or CDIP (AHiMA) certification, and have three to five years of CDI experience before working contract CDI jobs. This experience and knowledge base are essential to serving as a resource to providers as they document the care provided in patients' medical records. The work has a direct impact on an organization and its patients, and offers a number of professional and personal rewards.

Clinical documentation specialists working for staffing companies like AMN Healthcare can enjoy paid time off, remote work, sick time, medical benefits, paid association dues, and educational benefits.

"I've told many people who get into this field that you will constantly get calls from recruiters wanting you to come work for them," Medie said. "And I tell people that with AMN, I've always felt assured of the stability of my job and revenue and that my recruiter is there to support me 100 percent. Everyone at AMN has been very attentive to me. Anytime I need something, I can call, text, or email them, and they immediately get back to me."

Medie noted that clinical documentation integrity jobs can be very fulfilling, but they also require tremendous focus.

"If someone wants to be a CDS or wants to be a contract employee, you need to have confidence, a strong work ethic, a strong clinical background, good people skills, and good communication skills especially with the physicians, tremendous focus, humility, and flexibility," she said.

Ready to make a difference like Medie has? Check out AMN’s current CDI jobs, and contact a recruiter to learn more.

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