The First Three Months

I have no real memory of what my first actual credentialing task was.

Maybe it was scanning in a NPDB into the database.

Maybe it was pulling on-line hospital verifications.

Or maybe it was running a background check.

Whatever it was, I certainly didn’t know what it was that I was doing or why.  I was just doing what I was told to do.  The coworkers that I shared office space with, while wonderful people – they were horrible trainers.  My coworker was not able to explain what she knew or why she knew it.  The Director left the main portion of my training to the coworker, only supplementing with partial explanations when I asked for clarification.  There was no formal training.

I remember an office meeting where coworker and Director were speaking back and forth in this manner:  “The ACLS is preferrable to the BLS for the independent AHPs, but not for the dependent AHPs.”  And “But there is no regulation per the JCAHO or CMS…”

Blah, blah, blah….

I had NO clue what they were talking about, I couldn’t keep up with their acronyms and to top it all off, where we were sitting was under a heat duct, right after lunch and I couldn’t help but yawn.

The Director stopped her conversation, looked at me as I yawned and asked, “Are we boring you?”

“No, but I have no idea what you two are talking about either!”

I think they may have attempted to explain what they were talking about, but truthfully, it went right over my head.  It wasn’t anything I was prepared to understand because there was no basic frame of reference to know what it was they were explaining.

I had no foundation to build my knowledge from.

They did not explain to me what Bylaws are.

I had no idea what education was required for which specialty.

I didn’t know there was minimum requirements for liability insurance.

The first three months of me being in the department involved me being told what to do and not understanding what I was doing or why.  I had people in my life ask me what my new job involved.  I had no easy answer for them as I didn’t know what it was I was supposed to be doing.

So I defaulted to things I did know and understand.

I became the gopher and errand-runner.  If anything needed to go anywhere, I was sent.  Due to my previous job experiences, I knew where everything was in the hospital.  Take this to the Chief of Medicine in ICU for signature.  This needs to go to the doctor’s lounge in Surgery for display.  Please take that to Administration for the President’s signature.  On my first trip to Administration as a Medical Staff employee the main administrative assistant asked me, “So, have you had to get a tetanus shot from working over there yet?  It’s nasty over there and I don’t go to that office unless I have to.”  I was ashamed for the department that they had the reputation that they did.


I remember filing stacks of files and loose paperwork.  One document had a date on it from 1980 – I began working in the department in 2012.  Every horizontal surface had stacks of paperwork that could not be shredded or tossed.  EVERYTHING had to be kept according to them – FOREVER.  I was told the regulations had loosened as they once could not “un-staple paperwork to make copies unless they stapled them back in the exact same holes to make it appear that it had always remained original”.  That made no sense to me.

I cleaned out the kitchenette area.  I found items that were out-dated by 10+ years (one item, I know for a fact was around 20 years old – even though I couldn’t find an expiration date on it).  The refrigerator might as well been its own science experiment.  I was astounded that women worked in the department as there was little evidence that anything had been cleaned in the previous 5 years.

I watered, trimmed and revived the dying plants (the Director referred to her plant as Lazarus as it had “risen from the dead” more times than she could count).  It was commented by my coworker that she didn’t have time to worry about plants and she didn’t understand why I had the time either.  Ummm….cause I have no idea what I should be doing with my day, so I’m filling it up as best I know how to!  I learned to do my plant-tending when she wasn’t present to watch and comment on my lack of productive work.  Less than five minutes of plant-tending a week became a refuge for me in an insane job.

It wasn’t all bad those first few months.  Part of the reason I was hired was because I already knew how to do other things that they didn’t normally do.  I ordered office supplies, scheduled meetings and ordered the catering.  I spent time updating documents and learning data entry in the department database.

I slowly learned a rhythm to my days that allowed me to feel in-control of my job.  Anyone who has been in Medical Staff for any length of time knows that once you start to feel comfortable, that is when all hell breaks loose.  My story is not any different.

Stay tuned for my first “attempt” at credentialing.


Author: Karen Kerbaugh

I am currently a Credentialing Specialist who still has a long way to go and a lot to learn. Follow me on my journey and let's learn together.

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