Health Information Management

A Note from the Instructors: Hiring new CDI staff

CDI Strategies, March 10, 2016

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By Laurie Prescott, RN- MSN, CCDS, CDIP

I am often asked by CDI managers and directors about how can they hire and retain a successful CDI specialist. These comments identify two issues: one, finding a person with the right skills, and, two, keeping them in this highly competitive environment.

If you visit the ACDIS Job Posting page, LinkedIn, or other professional networking sites, you are likely aware that you could probably find a new position by the close of the work day today if you wished. The demand for CDI skills and years of experience is high. This has created a very competitive environment with high turnover for many organizations. I usually have one specific piece of advice when asked this question, that I believe touches both the issues of who to hire and how to retain staff.

“Shop” for your new staff member close to home—even within your facility. I know it is tempting to offer large sign-on bonuses and look for the most qualified person nationwide, but you gamble in that process. I learned this lesson many years ago. I managed an intensive care unit in small rural hospital. Staffing was a challenge, as my nurses had to be strong, experienced, and independent. They had little support, often working alone on the night shift. The issue was when I found that rare experienced nurse who could hit the ground running on day one, they usually did not stay in the position for long. I learned that if I “shopped” close to home, found the right person with the right personality, I could teach the skills and build a loyal employee who was invested both in the organization and the community. In other words, an employee who would stay.

So, as you look for new CDI staff, scope out your intensive care unit, emergency department, med/surg units, and coding departments. You may find that new employee right in front of you.

I also was hiring a “known entity.” By looking for new staff members from within my own facility, I got to know the person’s work ethic, personality, and I saw them interact with co-workers, physicians etc.

You can’t teach personality skills. They have to come naturally. When I started my journey in CDI, the consultant designing our program said to the HIM manager during my interview, “hire her, she has the right personality.”  She later shared with me that she knew she could teach me CDI, but there was so much more to this job than that. She understood that personality, work ethic, and willingness to learn were important.

So, when you have that position to fill, sit down and list the personality traits, as well as the experience and skills you need in your department. Then, go shopping close to home. You might just find that employee that will shine under your mentorship and stick around for the long haul.

Editor’s Note: Laurie L. Prescott, RN, MSN, CCDS, CDIP, AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer, is the CDI Education Director at HCPro in Danvers, Massachusetts. Contact her at For information regarding CDI Boot Camps visit

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