How volunteering enhances understanding the health information industry

How volunteering enhances understanding the health information industry

By Julie Philips, Cancer Care PEI

Woman with a headset having a virtual meeting

Certified Health Information Management (CHIM) professionals find employment in a wide range of careers. The CHIM professional must keep up to date with many evolving rules and regulations to maintain the accuracy and consistency of their work. When out in the workforce, it is difficult to stay well informed of changes projected for the industry. Volunteering for committees gives you the chance to shape the future of the health information industry and is an excellent way to keep up with current and changing practices within your field.

Since graduating from the HIM program at NSCC, I have been employed as a cancer registrar (CTR) in PEI. There are numerous standard setters in the USA and Canada that work together to ensure accurate and consistent cancer data. I have been volunteering on two ongoing committees, as well as other temporary committees, while working as a cancer registrar.

One of the committees I am a member of is the Resolution Issues Group (RIG) Committee. RIG has at least one committee member representing each provincial/territorial cancer registry and at least one member representing Statistics Canada. We meet monthly for 90 minutes to discuss any queries relating to coding and staging of cancer cases. Members attempt to find answers to queries using other methods, but if no answer is found, or if conflicting answers are found, the RIG member will bring the question to the committee. RIG members distribute finalized answers within their provincial/territorial cancer registry. RIG ensures all Canadian cancer registries are following the same guidelines in order to produce consistent data across Canada.

Another committee I am a member of is the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Committee. TAG has at least one member representing most, if not all, standard-setting organizations in the USA and Canada. We meet monthly, or as need arises, for 60 minutes to address issues that are not addressed elsewhere, or to discuss discrepancies among standard setters. Upcoming changes are also often discussed during these meetings. I provide a summary of the meeting to representatives in Canada and these are discussed at the Committee on Data Quality and Management meeting. 

Volunteering on RIG and TAG has enabled a greater understanding of my career in HIM as a CTR. It is great to use the committees as a resource if I ever need clarification or reassurance on changes happening within the cancer registration field. As PEI is such a small province, it is beneficial to have contacts in larger registries for any questions or concerns that do not need to be brought to the committee. It is great to have access to committee members who specialize in the coding, staging, or treatments of different cancer groups. Involvement with committees also allows the sharing of training documentation and training methods, which leads to efficient training. I also recently became a PEI member on the NSPE chapter committee, and I look forward to participating. Volunteering to join committees has given me a greater understanding of the work I perform on a daily basis and the developments throughout North America. I have had opportunities to have my questions answered, answer questions, and learn from fellow committee members. I strongly recommend that CHIMA members volunteer on committees, as it is an excellent method of obtaining a greater understanding of your industry.

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