Wondering exactly what the Academy of Health Information Professionals 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 information about earning academy points in the FAQ below. Select a question to read the answer!
General AHIP questions
The Academy of Health Information Professionals is a professional development and career recognition program of MLA. Admission to and level of Academy membership (Provisional, Member, Senior, Distinguished, and Emeritus) are based on three areas of achievement: academic preparation, professional experience, and professional accomplishment.
It’s all three. AHIP is a peer-reviewed, accomplishment/portfolio-based certification program for health information professionals. Certification is “a voluntary process by which a nongovernmental entity grants a time-limited recognition to an individual after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria.” Academy membership indicates that your peers have certified that you have met “met predetermined and standardized criteria,” which are described . It is similar to an ANCC certification for nurses, with the difference that nurses are licensed. A certification is a kind of credential.
AHIP is also a membership organization in that members are entitled to specific career development and planning resources, including mentoring.
So, when you talk about AHIP to others, be sure to make clear that AHIP is a certification and a membership organization!
No. Membership in the academy is available to both MLA members and non-MLA members who meet the required professional education and experience requirements. You may join as an MLA member (pay dues for current year plus an academy application fee of $200, or $135 for Provisional level) or as a non-MLA member ($450 academy application fee or $325 for Provisional level).
Please first take a look at the Determine Your Eligibility page and, if you are eligible, follow the steps on the appropriate application page.
MLA established the Academy of Health Information Professionals on January 1, 1978. The Academy has a rich history, reaching back to 1949, when MLA created its first credentialing program. Below are all the articles we know about the history of MLA credentialing programs and research on AHIP.
- Certification:A Stage of Professionalization, M. Jordan, 1948
- The View Behind and Ahead: Implications of Certification, L. Darling, 1973
- History of the Medical Library Association's credentialing program, J. Bell, 1996
- The Academy of Health Information Professionals: a review of the first five years, R. Forsman & P. Nelson, 1997
- MLA's professional development program: how we took control of our future, F. Roper, 1998
- Health sciences librarians' attitudes toward the Academy of Health Information Professionals, L. Baker, M. Kars, & J. Petty, 2004
- MLA News articles: May 2014, pg. 16; February 2014, pg. 16; January 2014 pg.16.
Academy admission requires possession of an MLS 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 Accreditation Council (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 US and Canadian schools. Are any library science degrees from outside the US 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.
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. If you hold a non-ALA MLS but have a sixth year certificate or a doctoral degree from a school which offers an ALA-accredited master's degree, you 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, you must submit evidence of knowledge in all the Professional Competencies if you have a non-library science degree.
What does the academy require as proof that I have an accredited degree or that I meet the Professional Competencies requirement?
A copy of your 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.
No. If you have an ALA-accredited MLS 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 earn 8 points of MLA-sponsored instruction and 5 points of professional individual accomplishments each year for renewal of Provisional 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. Here are examples of calculating FTE of part-time employment:
- 6 years of working 12 hours/week = 3 yrs FTE
- 10 years working at 20 hours week = 8.3 FTE
- 5 yrs of working 12 hours/week and 3 years FT = 5.5 FTE
AHIP is an accomplishment-based certification program. Points are the common metric the MLA Credentialing Committee uses to measure accomplishment. The committee determined the point value of a number of professional activities based on an estimate of time and effort required and defines levels of membership in terms of number and category of points. Members use the points system to track their accomplishments.
Once you submit payment, either online or via check, you will receive a link to the AHIP application. Once you have completed the application and uploaded all required forms and supporting documentation, you will receive an email confirmation.
After you submit your application, the AHIP Program Coordinator is notified and your application is checked for completion. It is then sent to a member of the Credentialing Committee for initial review and then to the chair-designate of the committee for final review and approval. The program coordinator will then notify you by email of the outcome of your portfolio review.
Provisional members must renew each year. Member level and above must renew every five years. Please see the AHIP renewal pages for guidelines and instructions for renewing your academy membership.Note: There are several things you can do to make renewing easy, facilitate becoming a well-rounded professional, and meet your goals for renewing at a higher level:
- Save supporting documents in one folder on your computer. You will then have a convenient repository of five years of professional accomplishments right at hand when you complete the Points Tally Form needed for renewal.
- Enter every professional accomplishment into the Points Tally Form every time you save a file, and keep a running points tally. This will help you plan ahead, and you will have the Tally Form almost complete when you apply.
- Decide at the beginning of a five-year period at which level you plan to renew. If you plan to renew at Senior or Distinguished level, mark the requirements for the level on the form so you know what you must accomplish.
- Use the Tally form to guide you in becoming well-rounded in the competency areas and your scope of professional accomplishments. Seek out activities in competencies you are light on or evaluate yourself as weak on. Attempt activities in new accomplishments areas.
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.
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.
Questions about Academy points
The MLA course certificate should state "Approved for [number] MLA CE Contact Hours." Courses for which approval is pending should state that MLA contact hours have been applied for. When in doubt, ask the person sponsoring the course.
Yes. The Individual Participant Request (Form IPR) provides an avenue for you to earn CE points through non-MLA- approved CE activities. Be aware that activities such as MLA journal clubs require submission of a completed IPR form. Please refer to the Educational Clearinghouse for a list of current approved courses.
Professional Association Participation
The academy honors work after completion. Committee appointments count after completion of a full year of service.
Yes. You may claim the same number of points as a single chair.
As president of my state association, I am expected to write an article for the association newsletter. Can I get points for the newsletter articles?
No. Any activity which is part of your regular job assignment or committee assignment may not be claimed for separate Academy points. However, holding an office in your state association will earn points in the Academy.