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Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist

The Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) 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 Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialists. The RHDS 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 today’s healthcare environment.

Who Should Earn Their RHDS?

  • Recent graduates of healthcare documentation/medical transcription education programs
  • Healthcare documentation practitioners with fewer than 2 years’ experience in acute care
  • Experienced practitioners working in a single-specialty environment (i.e., private practice, clinic, radiology, pathology, etc.)
  • CHDS candidates who need to fulfill the RHDS prerequisite 

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


About the RHDS Exam

The 130-question RHDS exam consists of both multiple-choice questions and fill-in-the-blank transcription against audio. Both assessment types are used to test candidate knowledge and applied interpretive judgment in all knowledge domains represented on the RHDS Exam Blue Print, including: Transcription Standards and Style, 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/medical transcription 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
  • RHDS Exam Blue Print
  • RHDS Sample Questions
  • RHDS 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 Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist and may use the RHDS designation. You will receive a wall certificate that shows the date through which the credential is valid (renewal date). An RHDS lapel pin may be purchased in AHDI's online store.


Your RHDS credential will be valid for 3 years. Before your certification expires, you will need to recertify. Recertification requires you to successfully complete the RHDS Recredentialing Course or retake the RHDS exam. You may also begin to prepare for the CHDS exam after earning your RHDS.


If you currently hold an RMT credential (Registered Medical Transcriptionist), the same recertification process applies. Upon successfully recertifying, you will hold the RHDS credential.


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