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Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist


The Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS) exam is based on the AHDI Medical Transcriptionist Job Descriptions and the competencies outlined in the AHDI Core Competencies and the AHDI Model Curriculum. It is a voluntary credentialing exam for individuals who wish to become Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialists. The CHDS exam is designed to assess competency in healthcare documentation by determining if a candidate has the core knowledge and skills needed to practice healthcare documentation effectively in a multi-specialty acute care facility, where variable specialties, document types, and difficulty of dictation necessitate an advanced level of clinical knowledge and interpretive ability.


Who Should Earn Their CHDS?

  • Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialists (RHDSs) with a minimum of 2 years’ experience in acute care transcription or multi-specialty equivalent.

CHDS candidates who need to earn the RHDS have two options:1) take the RHDS exam first and upon successfully passing the exam, schedule and sit for the CHDS exam; or 2) schedule and sit for the combined RHDS/CHDS credential qualifying exam (CQE).  


Recommendations for Earning Your Credential

  • Possess the knowledge and skills identified as Level 2 in AHDI’s Medical Transcriptionist Job Description
  • Know and understand the exam blue print published in the Credentialing Candidate Guide
  • Assess your knowledge and skills to determine your readiness to sit for the exam
  • Prepare and study for your exam (see available resources)

Students, new graduates, and specialty MTs/healthcare documentation specialists are strongly discouraged from taking the CHDS exam unless or until the candidate has acquired the acute care experience or exposure necessary to demonstrate competency in the domains evaluated on this exam.


About the CHDS Exam

The 120-question CHDS exam consists of multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blank transcription against audio, and SRT editing against audio. These assessment types are used to test candidate knowledge, applied interpretive judgment, and advanced editing skills in both knowledge domains represented on the CHDS Exam Blue Print, including: Clinical Medicine and Health Information Technology.


The transcription performance portion of the exam consists of short items employing medical dictation and/or transcription that must be transcribed, proofread, and/or edited. It consists of dictation that is realistic and representative of that encountered under actual working conditions. Dictation is selected for its appropriate medical content. The practical portion of the exam is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge, skill, and ability to practice healthcare documentation effectively in today’s healthcare environment. Emphasis in the practical portion of the exam is more on critical thinking skills rather than keyboarding, research, or other technical skills.


Download the Credentialing Candidate Guide to find out everything you need to know about the credentialing process, such as:

  • Eligibility and Requirements
  • Content Focus
  • CHDS Exam Blue Print
  • CHDS Sample Questions
  • CHDS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In addition, the Candidate Guide provides detailed information about exam registration, online proctoring, onsite testing, exam preparation, and requirements for credential maintenance and recredentialing.


After Earning Your Credential

Upon successfully passing your credentialing exam, you will be recognized as a Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist and may use the CHDS designation. You will receive a wall certificate that shows the date through which the credential is valid (renewal date). A CHDS lapel pin may be purchased in AHDI's online store.


Your CHDS credential will be valid for 3 years. Before your certification expires, you will need to recertify. Recertification requires you to earn a minimum of 30 continuing education credits (CECs) through applicable professional development activities over your 3-year cycle.


If you currently hold an CMT credential (Certified Medical Transcriptionist), the same recertification process applies. The CHDS Bridge Course is for current CMTs who wish to bridge to the CHDS. The course is preapproved for 10 CECs.


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