September 19, 2017 | | Comments 0
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CDI Week Q&A: Career Advancement

Ng, Brenda

Brenda Ng, MS, RN, CCDS, CCS

As part of the seventh annual Clinical Documentation Improvement Week, ACDIS has conducted a series of interviews with CDI professionals on a variety of emerging industry topics. Brenda Ng, MS, RN, CCDS, CCS, a CDI consultant at MedPartners in Greenwood Lake, New York, and a member of the 2017 CDI Week Committee, answered these questions on CDI and career advancement. Contact her at

Q: What, in your mind, does the “typical” CDI specialist role entail?

A: The typical CDI specialist role entails knowledge of best practices, quality reviews, continuity of care, and ensuring that patients are receiving the right communication.

Q: As CDI programs advance, they begin to branch out into other review areas. What areas do you think programs should move into first?

A: Quality seems like the most logical first step. It’s really important across the board for organizations, patients, CMS, Joint Commission, and insurance companies alike, so CDI teams should definitely consider expanding into that space if they haven’t already.

Q: What is the most important thing a healthcare professional should do to further their career as a CDI specialist, either in CDI or elsewhere in healthcare?

A: Stay current. Whenever possible, get certifications, take review courses, listen to webinars, and join professional organizations.

Q: Do you think CDI specialists are compensated adequately for the work they do? Why or why not?

A: I think CDI specialists’ compensation is largely based on their regions. That said, I don’t think CDI specialists are compensated adequately. Initially, compensation was adequate prior to the implementation of ICD-10, but now the role of CDI specialists has expanded in scope. Some CDI specialists need to invest in their own books, webinars, education, and certifications in order to stay current.

Q: It seems like the most typical career ladders for CDI fall into two categories: the step category, in which individuals advance based on education, time on the job, and certification; and the expertise category, in which individuals advance based on their demonstrated capabilities and task sets such as CDI physician educator, quality reviewer, or data analyst. Can you talk about some of the pros and cons of these categories? What does your facility have in place?

A: My facility is currently branching into quality review. The major con is that the career ladder is not based on education nor certification; however, some of the staff are certified.

Q: How important do you think it is to develop career ladders of some sort to ensure CDI retention?

A: It’s very important to keep your CDI team engaged in career ladders validating their worth/accomplishments. Training new staff is usually expensive, so retention is important.

Q: What type of salary structure do you think career ladders might employ (e.g., 5% salary increase per year or bonus structure)? Why?

A: We offer salary increases per year for the hard work our CDI team members do. It’s really a win-win for all; we have a solid team and the team members stay happy.

Q: How different will CDI look as a profession 10 years from now?

A: It will be evolutionary.



Entry Information

Filed Under: ACDISCDI ProfessionCDI Recognition WeekClinical Documentation ImprovementGrowing your programQuality


Linnea Archibald About the Author: Linnea Archibald is the CDI editor for the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS). In this role, she helps out with the website, blog, social media, newsletter, and the CDI Journal. If you have any questions, feel free to email her.

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