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A quick Q&A about CCDS recertification

Changes took place.

Everything you need to know about how to recertify.

Q: How far in advance can I renew my CCDS certification?

A: Please submit no more than 60 days prior to expire date. Your expiration date is every two years from the date you took the exam. That date is on your certificate and on the score sheet you received when you took the exam.

Q: What do you recommend as the best way to submit my recertification?

A: Complete and submit the application that is available on the ACIDS web site.

Q: I don’t see a way to do it online but do see a fax number.

A: There is no online application option offered.

Q: Do you recommend faxing the form, e-mailing it to you, or putting it in the mail?

A: Return it in whatever way you wish. Instructions are on the form.

Q: Is it ok to submit more than the required 30 or should I just stop once I reach 30 hours.

A: You only need to submit 30 hours. All CEUs must have been earned in the time you held the certification. Remaining CEUs cannot be used for a future recert. Note the restrictions outline on the form (not more than 10 CEUs for any single event other than certain HCPro-sponsored programs).

Need more information? Visit the recertification page on the ACDIS web site or email CCDS Exam Coordinator Penny Richards.

Happy Health Information Professionals Week and Certified Nurses Day!

Celebrate spring and professional achievement too!

Celebrate spring and professional achievement too!

Maybe it’s the promise of spring that has everyone in the mood to celebrate, after all tomorrow is the first day of that blissful season. Regardless, ACDIS stands at the ready to raise a toast to the two sets of professionals who support CDI efforts all year long.

First, this year’s Health Information Professionals Week takes place March 16th-22nd. This week provides an opportunity to showcase the thousands of HIM professionals who perform their duties throughout the year. ACDIS joins with AHIMA in its 25th anniversary celebration “Transforming Healthcare with Information.”

“The work HIM professionals do to ensure the integrity of health information is imperative to clinical and administrative decision making. Access to accurate information helps all of us make important decisions and leads to a healthy society,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA, in a press release.

AHIMA kicked off its celebrations earlier this with “Hill Day” where HIM professionals visit Washington D.C. for lectures and set aside time to meet with their Congressional representatives to talk about the importance of the role of HIM in today’s healthcare landscape.

Secondly, Certified Nurses Day takes place today Wednesday, March 19, as a national day to honor and recognize the important achievement of nursing specialty and subspecialty certification. Obtaining certification represents a milestone of personal excellence along one’s professional journey and we at ACDIS are proud to join our fellow professional organizations the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), among others, in congratulating those nurses who go the extra mile to earn certification in their areas of specialty.
How many professionals from your state hold the CCDS certification?

1,800 hold the CCDS certification–are you ready to get yours?

Those who have chosen to sit for the Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist exam to obtain their CCDS credential understand the value of certification. Proudly displaying your CCDS pin and certificate not only demonstrates pride in your achievements but also illustrates to the world a personal dedication to industry standards and professionalism.

According to data collected by the American Board of Nursing Specialties in 2013, nurses in the U.S. and Canada held more than 683,684 certifications, an increase of more than 87,111 certifications compared to 2012 survey data. These certifications were granted by 27 different certifying organizations, and 122 different credentials designate these certifications.
For ACDIS’ part, the first CCDS exam was held in May 2009 and 39 months later, in August 2012, the 1,000th person passed. Just a few months later on November 22, the 1,500th person earned the CCDS.
Today, there are nearly 1,800 CCDS credentialed CDI professionals in the country more than 400 others registered to sit for the exam. A majority of CCDS holders are RNs, but ACDIS is proud to count many HIM professionals, as well as quality improvement personnel and physicians, among those who have earned the CCDS.
Whether you have your CCDS or another credential, ACDIS salutes you for professionalism and honor you for taking those next steps to demonstrate your commitment to the healthcare profession.
As a reminder, our parent company HCPro offers a number of ANCC-approved webinar programs including several which are also approved for CCDS, AAPC, and AHIMA credits. To learn more, visit
Upcoming programs include:






ICD-10 Coding Proficiency for Home Health: Coding Neurological Diagnoses, Circulatory Diagnoses, and Wounds – Part 3



ICD-10 Coding Proficiency for Home Health: Implementing an Action Plan – Part 4



Alternative Sanctions and CoP Compliance (WT)



Principal Diagnosis Selection: Essential guidelines for ICD-10 implementation  (WT)



Query Compliance: Tools to Identify Query Successes and Opportunities (WT)



Face-to-Face Physician Encounters: Strategies for Compliance (WT)



Quality Improvement Strategies (WT)



Management of Chronic Conditions in Homecare (WT)

Reminder: CCDS eligibility requirements change January 1

How many professionals from your state hold the CCDS certification?


Effective January 1, 2014, candidates who apply for the Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) exam must have a minimum of two years of documentation specialist experience to qualify.

  • Candidates must have at least two years of experience as a documentation specialist experience or equivalent.
    • Once a candidate has accumulated the time, it does not expire.
    • Work experience requirements must be met when the application is submitted.
    • Applications may be audited to verify work history and educational background.

Candidates must demonstrate that they meet one of the following requirements:

  • An  RHIA®, RHIT®, CCS®, CCS-P®, RN, MD or DO and two (2) years experience as a concurrent documentation specialist.
  • An associate’s degree (or equivalent education) in an allied health field and three (3) years of experience as a concurrent documentation specialist. The education component must include completed coursework in medical terminology and anatomy and physiology.
  • Formal education (accredited, college-level course work) in human anatomy and/or physiology, plus medical terminology, and disease processes, and a minimum three (3) years experience as a concurrent documentation specialist.

Applicants who qualify for the exam under current requirements may apply by December 31, 2013. Current qualifications are listed on the ACDIS web site ( and in the exam candidate’s handbook (available for download on the ACDIS web site,

Applicants have one calendar year from the date their name is submitted to the exam company to schedule and take their exam.

Please direct questions to Penny Richards.


CCDS Credential: Class of 2013 First Quarter

How many professionals from your state hold the CCDS certification?

How many professionals from your state hold the CCDS certification?

Congratulations to the 91 people who earned the Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist designation in the first quarter of 2013 (January through April). Of that number 15 were from Texas!

Click this link to see if you know anyone on the list. If you do, send them a congratulatory note!

There are currently 1,239 people who hold the CCDS. Here are the latest figures on just where the CCDS-ers are located:

  • California leads the pack with more than 100.
  • Texas and New York each have more than 80
  • Florida has more than 75
  • North Carolina has 60-plus
  • Ohio has more than 50
  • No one in Wyoming, North Dakota, or Nebraska holds the CCDS.

You might want to remember where you saw these numbers. There just might be a quiz at a future date!

Update on CCDS CEU requirements

The CCDS credential requires regular re-certification.

We’ve made some changes to the list of items accepted as continuing education units (CEUs) toward your CCDS re-certification.

The major change is that you may submit no more than 10 CEUs for a single activity. There are two exceptions—the ACDIS Annual Conference or the HCPro CDI Boot Camp or ICD-10 for CDI Boot Camp—you may submit all of the CEUs for either of these activities toward your re-certification.

You still need to submit 20 CEUs for re-certification.

You may still submit CEUs for taking college courses relevant to healthcare/healthcare management, CDI, or clinical coursework for credit or degrees (10 CEUs for each credit earned). But you’ll need to submit another 10 CEUs for other activities to reach the 20 CEU requirement.

Click here to see the CEU PDF on the ACDIS site.

If in doubt about whether a program offers applicable credits, email the ACDIS office with program details. We’ll ask you to submit the program agenda or synopsis, so you can save yourself time and attach the agenda with your inquiry.

Don’t wait until your re-certification is due to find out whether credits will be accepted toward your CCDS re-certification. We’re here to help.

1,000th CDI professional passes CCDS exam

Elizabeth Soule became the 1,000th person to earn the CCDS credential in September.

by Beth Soule, RN, MSN, CCDS

After being in the CDI field a little over a year, I ordered The CCDS Exam Study Guide and signed up to take the Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) exam. I remember wondering if my seven years as a case manager or my clinical experience as a cardiothoracic surgery and ICU nurse would help me pass the exam. I also wondered if my career as a heart transplant coordinator at Duke University Medical Center would be helpful, too.

As I continued to contemplate scheduling the exam date, my thoughts wandered to my favorite vacation spot on the N.C. Outer Banks on Ocracoke Island and other things I enjoy doing like playing with my five cats, listening to  audiobooks, watching movies with my husband, lounging with an excellent cup of coffee, or cooking my favorite meal
of spaghetti and garlic bread.

I grounded myself by remembering why I chose to become a CDI specialist—to improve my understanding of the reimbursement and compliance side of healthcare, and to tackle the challenge of starting a new program. I love a challenge! So why was I hesitating about my exam date?

At work, my colleague would question me daily on my studying efforts and exam prep progress. “Go ahead and take
the test,” they prompted. Their comments rang louder with each passing day. So, finally, I scheduled the exam date for
the following week.

In the meantime, I studied.

Taking the exam took all of the three hours allotted. I was down to answering the last two questions in the final seconds. But I found that the questions validated my everyday work routines, our report analysis process, and echoed the information in sources I frequently refer to for additional information.

On leaving the testing center I was again lost in thought. Only this time my thoughts were, “Wow! I passed!” It is truly an awesome reward to be a nurse stepping into a new specialty, which allows me to learn something new every single day. My case management colleagues comment almost daily that I have found my nursing niche. Certification solidifies  current best practice and adds credibility to my daily efforts and to the field as a whole. So what are you waiting for? Take the test!

Editor’s Note: Soule is a clinical documentation analyst at Duke Raleigh (N.C.) Hospital. In September, she became the 1,000th person to pass the CCDS exam. Contact her at This article first published in the October edition of the CDI Journal.

Your CCDS isn’t tied to your ACDIS membership

I’ve been reaching out to people whose CCDS credential expired in 2011. Most of these folks are among the first who

I wonder who else will be wearing a purple hat in San Diego.

earned the credential, and knowing how hard they worked to earn it, we hate to see them lose it.

In the course of chatting with people, a few were confused about the relationship between their CCDS credential and their ACDIS membership. They thought that renewing their ACDIS membership each year automatically translated to the CCDS credential.

One has nothing to do with the other. You become an ACDIS member when you pay the membership fee. There is no exam required.

The CCDS credential has strict educational training and experience requirements. Additionally, those who wish to earn the credential must pay a fee, pass an exam, and then renew the credential every two year by submitting proof of 20 continuing education credits and paying a renewal fee.

To summarize:

  • Anyone can join ACDIS
  • ACDIS members may be qualified to take the CCDS exam
  • CCDS holders may be ACDIS members

(That list reminds me of those awful logic problems from middle school. Remember those? Here’s one: Penny, Melissa, and Brian went to the ACDIS Conference, one by plane, one by train, and one on horseback. One carried a suitcase, one carried a newspaper, and one carried a laptop. Who wore the purple hat?)

You don’t need to be an ACDIS member to hold the CCDS. Plenty of stuff is free on the ACDIS site, like this blog. So, why join ACDIS?

(Here comes “the pitch”). Your ACDIS membership connects you on a deeper level with other CDI professionals, products, and services. You get:

  • Free participation in quarterly conference calls and in the ACDIS e-mail group CDI Talk
  • Free full access to the ACDIS web site, including the online Forms & Tools Library full of documents you can download and customize, and archives of featured articles
  • A free subscription to the quarterly electronic CDI Journal
  • Free access to the ACDIS elearning library for online courses that offer CDI, coding, and case management continuing education credits
  • Member-only discounts for the annual ACDIS conference, CDI products, and the CCDS exam and/or re-certification

ACDIS membership is well-priced at $129 a year. (Members of local ACDIS chapters receive a discount on National membership which brings that cost to under $100. Talk to your local chapter leaders to learn more. Take advantage of the discounts and it will more than pay for itself every year.  For instance, you can earn free CEUs for your CCDS and save $100 on the CCDS renewal fee. (End of “the pitch”.)

When does your CCDS expire? Are you ready with at least 20 CEUs? Got a renewal question? E-mail me at I’m here to help.

I’ll be the one in San Diego in the purple hat.

2012 ACDIS Conference includes new initiatives

Join us in beautiful San Diego for the 5th Annual ACDIS Conference.The 2012 5th Annual ACDIS Conference will be more exciting than ever, offering two days and three tracks of sessions on the latest trends and cutting-edge techniques to build, improve, and enhance CDI programs. We strongly recommend early registration to save more than $200. Also if you are planning to stay through the weekend, hotel rooms quickly sell out, so we encourage you finalize your plans as soon as possible.

You will gain a deeper understanding of the new coding and documentation requirements under ICD-10, strengthen your medical records for RAC review, and learn how to bring  new initiatives like observation and pediatrics to your program when you attend this year’s Annual ACDIS Conference in San Diego, May 11-12. Sessions on shock and kidney disease and cardiac diagnoses will deepen your understanding of pathophysiology and open up new query opportunities.

Return to your organization recharged and with a new level of proficiency for continued CDI success.

Visit the web site for new detailed session descriptions and faculty information.

What’s new at the 2012 conference

  • Exciting new keynote speaker Dr. Janet Lapp speaks on “Change: The Choice is Ours”
  • DOJ attorney discusses Medicare claims recoupment case
  • More sessions than ever, including breakouts on neonatal and pregnancy reviews, at-home work arrangements, career ladders, and ICD-10
  • Tracks on compliance, and on quality and its relationship to CDI

Join us for two exciting pre-conference events

The Physician Advisor’s Role in CDI: A Collaborative Approach for Success | May 8-9, 2012. Participants found this session was so valuable during the 2011 conference they asked us to expand it to two days. This seminar provides in-depth coverage of the essential functions of the physician advisor and his or her successful integration with the clinical documentation improvement (CDI) department. Participants will walk away with a thorough grounding in the goals and objectives of a CDI program, definitions of problematic terms in ICD-9 and ICD-10 and solutions for to resolve coding vs. clinical clashes, and strategies to promote physician engagement. Click here for more information or to register now.

ICD-10 for CDI Boot Camp | May 8-9, 2012. This intensive two-day course was developed especially for CDI specialists to provide an introduction to the fundamentals of ICD-10 coding. You’ll learn the differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes, understand major changes to official coding guidelines, and develop the confidence to tackle the new system and query physicians for the greater specificity in documentation that the ICD-10 code set requires. Our expert faculty will review the codes and provide practical examples for hands-on learning. Click here for more information or to register now.

Don’t forget about the CCDS Exam

Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) Exam | May 12, 2012. The CCDS credential is the recognized professional certification for CDI specialists. A paper-and-pencil administration of the exam will be held Saturday, May 12, 2012 in San Diego. Exams are also held at computerized testing centers nationwide. Candidates who wish to take the exam must meet general requirements and one of four specified routes. You can learn more about prerequisites or apply online at

We’re looking forward to seeing you in San Diego!

What constitutes a CCDS continuing education unit?

I had some messages in my inbox the other day from holders of the Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) credential wondering what constitutes a CCDS continuing education unit (CEU). They asked:

  • What does it mean that I need 20 CCDS CEUs to recertify?

    In order to maintain your CCDS credential you must maintain ongoing continuing education credits. Tracking your CE efforts is your responsibility.

  • Do CEUs need to pertain to the field of clinical documentation or are CEUs for nursing re licensing acceptable?
  • Can we use all of our coding and training CEUs toward our CCDS?
  • We have a cancer conference at our facility twice a month. Would these sessions count toward our CCDS?

CCDS CEUs must be relevant to clinical documentation improvement. Here is a list of activities that qualify for CEUs toward CCDS re certification (this document is available on the ACDIS website):

  1. Annual ACDIS conference (one CEU for each hour of participation)
  2. Other related allied health conferences (e.g., nursing, case management, etc.) (one CEU for each hour of participation)
  3. Other related association conferences (e.g., AHIMA, AAPC, etc.) (one CEU for each hour of participation)
  4. Audio conferences/Webinars/e‐learning courses relevant to the CDI profession or hospital inpatient coding/documentation (one CEU for each hour of participation)
  5. CMS‐sponsored webinars and/or workshops, either from CMS national events or Medicare Administrative Contractors (one CEU for each hour of participation)
  6. Attending college courses for credit or degrees. (15 CEUs for each semester credit, 10 CEUs for each quarter credit)
  7. Presenting seminars/speaking engagements (two CEUs for each half hour of presentation time)
  8. Nursing CEUs: ACDIS will honor 1‐for‐1 CEUs relevant to clinical (disease or diagnosis) education or documentation improvement
  9. CME credit: ACDIS will honor 1‐for‐1 CEUs for any live event offering CME credit
  10. Participating in the ACDIS CDI Work Group or ACDIS committees (number of CEUs to be determined based on length of participation)

Ask for CCDE CEUs at other learning opportunities

If you plan to attend a training that doesn’t specifically state it offers CCDS credits or if the program doesn’t fit into the parameters listed above as a qualified activity, ask the program sponsor to apply for CCDS CEUs. The process is painless and the cost is minimal. Click here to download the application.

The entity that provides the training should provide you with a certificate or other notice that your participation earned you a specific number of CCDS credits. It is up to you to keep track of which programs you have attended and to maintain a file of your certificates in case you are audited.

ACDIS Local Chapters may apply for CEUs at no cost.

Many ACDIS local chapters offer CCDS CEUs for their programs. If you have a local chapter, take advantage of these opportunities. If your local chapter doesn’t offer CCDS CEUs, ask about them. Better yet, offer to help chapter leadership by offering to handle the application process.

And if you don’t have a local chapter… reach out to ACDIS Associate Director Melissa Varnavas to talk about getting one started near you!

Additions made to the CCDS exam instruction handbook

Are you planning to take the CCDS exam? We made some revisions to the Certified Clinical

If you are thinking about taking the CCDS exam the first step to take is to review the CCDS Candidate Handbook.

Documentation Specialist Candidate Handbook, which include sections for appeals and disciplinary policies as well as:

  • Updates to the list of Advisory Board members
  • Updates to addresses and contact information for the ACDIS office
  • Clarification regarding the permitted use of handwritten notes in the margins of allowable exam resources

No eligibility changes
Perhaps most important for you to know is that we have NOT changed the eligibility requirements. There are four routes you can take for eligibility and all require a combination of work experience and successful completion of formal educational training.

Click here to download a copy of the CCDS Candidate Handbook.

Once you receive notice of your eligibility to take the exam, you can schedule to take the exam at your convenience at a location of your choosing.

The exam is also given annually at the ACDIS Conference. Details about how to schedule your exam at the 2012 Conference in San Diego (May 10-11) will be published on the ACDIS website shortly. For more information about the conference, visit the conference web page.