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Frequently Asked Questions about AHIP

Wondering exactly what the Academy is all about...what it is, how to become a member, and the benefits of having AHIP after your name? Get the answers to these questions and many more in the FAQ below.


What is the Academy of Health Information Professionals?

The Academy of Health Information Professionals is a professional development and career recognition program of MLA. Admission to and the level of academy membership (Provisional, Member, Senior, Distinguished and Emeritus) are based on three areas of achievement: academic preparation, professional experience, and professional accomplishment.

What exactly does membership in the academy mean?

Members of the academy are credentialed as health information professionals by demonstrating their academic preparation, professional experience and professional accomplishments. Credentialing differs from certification in that certification focuses on the attainment of minimum standards and measurable competencies, whereas credentialing recognizes the time and effort that is required for professional development. It also differs from licensure because licensure is a legal requirement for professionals in certain professions, such as medicine. 

Academy membership is a designation recognizing the time and effort a health information professional commits to professional development activities.

How is the academy related to the Medical Library Association?

MLA established its credentialing program in 1949* and the Academy of Health Information Professionals (passed by the MLA membership in September 1974, was established January 1,1978, and revised September 1981, April 1989, and May 1993). 

The most recent action by MLA occurred in April 1995, when the MLA Board of Directors appointed members to the Task Force to Review the Academy of Health Information Professionals. In May 1996, the task force completed its report and recommendations to the MLA Board of Directors, who reviewed the academy in its current form and made recommendations for future goals. 

* For more detailed information about the history of MLA's credentialing program, consult the following articles:

How do I become an academy member?

You should follow the directions found under Application Process. Upon receipt of the completed forms, MLA will forward the application packet to the Credentialing Committee for analysis. Applicant and supervisor are notified, by letter, of acceptance; applicant only is notified of non acceptance.

Do I have to be an MLA member to join the academy?

No. As of January 1994, membership in the academy is available to both MLA members and non-MLA members who meet the required professional education and experience requirements. An individual may join as an MLA member (pay dues for current year plus an academy application fee of $200, or $125 for Provisional level) or as a non-MLA member ($450 academy application fee or $325 for Provisional level).

What are the educational requirements for academy membership?

Academy admission requires possession of an M.L.S. degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) or a post-baccalaureate degree in any field accredited by a member of the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary AccreditationCouncil (CORPA). Candidates possessing a non library science degree must submit evidence of knowledge in all Professional Competencies as outlined in the Competencies for Lifelong Learning and Professional Success.

ALA accreditation applies only to U.S. and Canadian schools. Are any library science degrees from outside the U.S. and Canada acceptable?

The ALA recognizes that the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand have formal accreditation processes, therefore, individuals with degrees from specific institutions in these countries may be considered acceptable for employment in the United States and for membership in the academy.

For a list of these institutions or information about degrees from other countries, please refer to the "Foreign Credentials Evaluation Assistance" ALA Web page for more information.

I do not have an ALA MLS, but I have a sixth year certificate from an accredited ALA school. Does this meet the academy's educational requirements?

Yes. Persons who hold a non-ALA MLS but who hold a sixth year certificate or a doctoral degree from a school which offers an ALA-accredited master's degree meet the academy's educational requirement.

I have a non-library science degree from an accredited post baccalaureate program. Do I have to show that I have knowledge of the health information field?

Yes. In addition to fulfilling all other academy requirements for membership, candidates possessing non-library science degrees must submit evidence of knowledge in all the Professional Competencies as defined in MLA's Educational Policy Statement.

What does the academy require as proof that I have an accredited degree or that I meet the Professional Competencies requirement?

A copy of a diploma is acceptable as proof of degree and official transcripts of formal course work are necessary to evaluate compliance with Professional Competencies. In addition, if one cannot reasonably assume from the title of the course that the Professional Competency would have been covered, a syllabus or detailed course outline showing the specific subject matter covered is required. Certificates of completion are required for continuing education.

I work part-time. Can I still apply for academy membership?

Yes. Full-time work experience is defined as working a minimum of 24 hours per week and is based on a minimum of eleven months of full-time work for each year required. Candidates with part-time employment experience must still have the equivalent of five years full-time experience.

I don't have five years experience. Will I have to wait to apply?

No. If you have an ALA-accredited M.L.S. or an accredited post-baccalaureate degree with documented course work in all Professional Competencies AND less than five years of relevant experience in the information profession field following your master's degree, you can enter the academy at the Provisional level. Provisional membership lasts for one year only. However, it may be renewed annually, up to four times or until the Provisional Member has been employed in an information position for five years following the master's degree, whichever comes first. A mentor will be assigned to you to guide you on to the Member level and make sure you meet the 8 points of MLA-sponsored instruction and 5 points of professional individual accomplishments each year for renewal of Provisional membership.

How can I be sure MLA has received my application?

Once you submit your application and payment via the online submission process, you will receive an email confirmation. 

What happens to my application after I submit it to MLA headquarters?

It is received at MLA headquarters and checked by the AHIP member services department. It is then sent to a member of the Credentialing Committee who reviews and evaluates it. It is then sent on to the chair-designate of the Committee who resolves any discrepancies. The chair-designate forwards the portfolios of the approved academy members to the Professional Development department. The candidate is then notified by mail.

Can you suggest some resources in addition to the application information provided by the academy that are helpful for international librarians who want to apply for academy membership?

You might want to read the following:

  • Medical Library Association. Competencies for Lifelong Learning and Professional Success, 2007.
  • American Library Association/Standing Committee on Library Education/International Library Education Subcommittee. Information for Persons from Outside the United States Seeking Employment as Professional Librarians in the United States, 1988.
  • International Association of Universities. Methods of Equivalencies between Degrees and Diplomas. Paris: Unesco, 1970.

Now that I am a member of the academy, when do I need to renew my membership?

  1. Membership lasts for five years, and must be renewed before the end of the fifth year.
  2. Members may renew at the same level by completing a minimum of fifty points of professional activities. To renew at the same level, AHIP members must submit form BIO and form LEDGER. They are not required to attach continuing education and other point documentation, unless an IPR form is needed for courses not approved for MLA CE contact hours.
  3. Membership may be maintained at the highest level you achieved in the academy without a lapse in membership by completing the requirements for that level. One exception is that provisional members may not renew again as a provisional member after serving at that level the maximum five-year period.
  4. Membership may be advanced to a higher level if the professional experience, professional membership, and professional accomplishment requirements for that level are met.

Can I upgrade in less than the five-year renewal time?

Yes. You can submit a new portfolio, which will result in a new five year time span for points and a new fee. Your new certificate will reflect the five-year period following the upgrade.

Can I renew my academy membership if I am retired?

Yes. You can request emeritus status if you have been a member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals (at any level except Provisional) at the time of retirement and have been credentialed by MLA for at least ten consecutive years at the time of retirement.

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