Thursday, October 5, 2017

ASK HIM: I Have My RHIA, Now What Do I Do?

Question submitted: After years of being an RHIT, I went back to school, passed the certification test and earned my RHIA credential!  Now what do I do?

Answer from Megan Patton:
So you went back to school to earn a higher degree and RHIA credential.  Like many, you probably sacrificed time with your family and friends, and likely had to give up sleep in order to fit in work, family, and school.  You wrote many papers, took many tests, and ultimately studied hard to pass the RHIA exam.  Now what? 

First, consider your motivation for going back to school.  Was it to earn a promotion?  Find a new job?  Open new doors of opportunity? Or fulfill a dream?  The reasoning behind your education will likely help guide your next steps.   A Forbes’ blog writer quoted a VP as telling them to “Make a plan-or someone else will make one for you (Miller, 2014)."

Next, update your resume.  If your goal was to find a new job, this will be a key opportunity to show off your new skills and abilities.  You have likely acquired many new skills in your course of study.  Some schools will have a career services department that can help review your resume and offer tips, take advantage of that opportunity before graduating.   There are also many helpful tips in the AHIMA Career Prep Workbook found under the Career Prep Tools. Don’t forget to think about your personal brand.  According to AHIMA’s Career Prep Workbook  “your personal brand is how you are perceived externally; your reputation, values, and vision all wrapped up together.”
One of the best ways to boost your resume and find a new job is to volunteer.  Volunteer for your local and state organizations.  OHIMA offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities.  Run for a position on your local or state board.  Look for volunteer opportunities with AHIMA.  Most importantly, network!  Staying active with other professionals in your field will open many new doors and opportunities you had not considered or which you may not have been aware.  Check out the OHIMA blog post on volunteering.

One way to visualize your career is to use the AHIMA Career Map.  The Career Map will help you envision opportunities at all levels from entry to master.   Maybe you have been considering a change from coding to IT or from management to education.  This map will help you see potential options.  In the instructional design world we call this “storyboarding.”  Storyboarding is a visualization of how to get students from point A to point B.  The same can be done in your career.  Think about where you are now and where you want to be and create your storyboard of how you will get there.  Another way to see the possibilities is to check out job banks.  OHIMA and AHIMA both offer great job banks to search for potential opportunities.  

Another way to help obtain a new role or promotion is to create a portfolio.  Many college programs will have you keep a portfolio during your time in their program.  Some students will walk away without ever realizing the true potential value of that portfolio!  Maintaining samples of your best work in your program and samples from your work experience is a great addition to any portfolio.  Keep the portfolio going throughout your career.  When you are asked to provide an example of a project you worked on or how you meet a qualification you can use that portfolio to recall the information or better yet, show the employer!  Consider adding your portfolio link to your resume.

Think about finding a mentor in the field.  Even if you have been in the field for many years before earning your RHIA, you may still find having a mentor will help you on your path.  You may find a mentor in your workplace, through volunteering at your local, state or national associations, or through networking.  Find someone who is currently where you want to be.  Speak up!  A potential mentor will not seek you out, you have to look for one.

If your primary goal was to earn a promotion at your current workplace, then let your immediate supervisor know you passed your RHIA exam.  Maybe there are already opportunities you want to apply for, but your supervisor may know of opportunities on the horizon. So be open about wanting to learn new things and take on new responsibilities.   Schedule a time to meet with your supervisor and let them know you would like to discuss potential opportunities and what skills you have acquired. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you have already accomplished amazing things...and the rest is still unwritten. 



AHIMA. (n.d.) Career prep workbook. Retrieved from

Halpern, M. (n.d.) Moving on up: How to ask for a promotion.  Retrieved from

Miller, J. (2014). 4 things your boss won’t tell you about advancing your career.  Retrieved from

About the Author 

Megan Patton, MEd, RHIA is an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati's online HIM program.  She is currently serving her second term as an OHIMA Board Director focusing on Leadership and acting as the Committee Chair of the Summer Meeting Committee.  

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