Big Hearts Take Tulsa to the Top

Big Hearts Take Tulsa to the Top

So many factors earn Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 2016 Chapter of the Year award.

What makes a chapter rise to become the AAPC Chapter of the Year? Many factors. But for Tulsa Oklahoma, it was mostly their generosity, overabundance of education opportunities, and strong leadership. As 2016 Tulsa, Oklahoma, Local Chapter Vice President Sherry Harding, CPC, CPMS, put it, “I think Tulsa chapter members have big hearts and enjoy giving and sharing with others. We are coders. We are programmed to take care of others. It’s what we do.”

Representing at HEALTHCON in a Big Way

You could tell by Tulsa’s presentation board at HEALTHCON 2016 that they wanted to win the Chapter of the Year award, and they had a plan to do so. In fact, they created a presentation board showcasing all they were doing to reach that goal. Tulsa displayed the board, shown in Figure A, at the 2016 HEALTHCON.

It Isn’t Tulsa’s First Rodeo

Winning also comes down to organized, dedicated, and knowledgeable officers. When Tulsa’s 2016 Treasurer Caryn Robison, CPC, was asked why she thought Tulsa won the award, she said, “Experienced leadership. Both Cindy Akkerman and Sherry Harding have served as officers in previous years.” They knew what was expected, how competitive it was, and what steps they needed to take Tulsa to the top.
The 2016 President Cindy Akkerman, MBA, MBA-HCM, CPC, CPB, CPPM, CPC-I, AAPC Fellow, learned from past years’ mistakes and set out with a different angle to win the award. “When I was the president in 2013, we worked for this award,” she said. “We were not quite clear on the guidelines and application. We created a quantitate system for tracking all possible points for the Chapter of the Year, but we were never quite sure how to do it … Once we knew the actual process, we were dedicated to earning as many points as possible to win.”
Besides being experienced, officers were ambitious and they were surrounded by supportive members who helped make the award happen. “I had a fantastic group of officers who each had their own special project to help the chapter grow and to win Chapter of the Year,” Akkerman said.
Here are the 2016 chapter officers who helped ensure Tulsa would meet and exceed Chapter of the Year requirements:

  • President – Cindy Akkerman, MBA, MBA-HCM, CPC, CPB, CPPM, CPC-I, AAPC Fellow
  • Vice President – Sherry Harding, CPC, CPMS
  • Secretary – Adele Neil, CPC
  • Treasurer – Caryn Robison, CPC
  • Education – Holly Carruth, CPC-A
  • Member Development – Angela Fineran, MBA, CPC

Exceeding the Requirements

In 2016, Tulsa was busy recruiting new members, sending welcome emails to new members, mentoring members, and offering an abundance of educational opportunities and resources to their 500+ members. They also sent out monthly newsletters to keep chapter members informed about chapter happenings. Besides these accomplishments, they also furnished the following educational opportunities to members each month:

  • January – Held a meeting on 2016 CPT® Updates.
  • February – Held a meeting on Accounting & Finance, and proctored a Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) exam.
  • March – Held four Body Systems Review classes, a CPC® Review class, a monthly meeting on Blood Donations, and proctored a CPC® exam.
  • April – Held four Body Systems Review classes, represented at HEALTHCON, held a monthly meeting on Magic Modifiers, and proctored a CPC® exam.
  • May – Gained members through the May MAYnia Membership Drive, held three Body Systems Review classes, a CPC® Review class, and proctored a CPC® exam.
  • June – Held a monthly meeting with the topic of Show Me the Money, a Body Systems Review class, and proctored a CPC® exam.
  • July – Held a meeting on the topic of Insurance Fraud Education, held an extra meeting on the topic Building Your Chapter, and proctored a CPC® exam.
  • August – Held a meeting on Decoding E/M, a CPC® Review class, and proctored a CPC® exam.
  • September – Held a meeting on Foot/Ankle Surgery, and proctored a CPC® exam.
  • October – Held a meeting on ICD-10 Updates, and proctored a CPC® exam.
  • November – Held meeting on ICD-10 Updates, a CPC® Review class, and proctored a CPC® exam.
  • December – Held a meeting on the topic of Internet Tools, and proctored a CPC® exam.

Tulsa also offered an Officer Training class to further strengthen leadership. And they put on a fun May MAYnia event with a lot of goodies, games, and prizes, which drew in a large attendance. They were one of AAPC’s 2016 May MAYnia winners.
“As the lead healthcare administration instructor at a local college,” Akkerman said, “I was able to market to the school and other schools in the area to get a larger attendance. The relationship with the schools has helped the Tulsa local chapter have better attendance at May MAYnia than any other meeting.”
The Body System Review class was a favorite. “Last year we provided anatomy classes for any members who were interested,” Holly Carruth, CPC-A said. As a result, some months they held several classes on this topic.

Customizing Education to Fulfill Members’ Needs

Tulsa offers educational topics that are exactly what each member is looking for. “We find out from our members what subjects they would like to learn more about and provide speakers that are helpful to every member,” Carruth said. Akkerman added, “And we make sure we offer continuing education units (CEUs) for every specialty and topic that our members want.” To ensure this, Akkerman said, “We started the year out with a survey for topics and speakers.” That way, the officers could customize speakers and topics unique to their chapter member’s educational needs and fulfill CEU requirements.

Giving Adds Up

Each month, starting in March, Tulsa featured a different charity to help support and serve their community and AAPC:

  • March – Domestic Violence Intervention Services – Held a clothing drive for abused women and children.
  • April – Dress for Success – Held another clothing drive for women re-entering the workforce who need business clothes for interviews and work.
  • May – Tulsa Animal Aid – Helped supply money, food, leashes, treats, cat litter, etc., for the local animal shelter.
  • June – Food Bank – Held a food drive to help stock the cupboards at their local food bank.
  • July – The Day Center for the Homeless – Held a clothing drive for the homeless.
  • August – Project Elf – Members donated clothes such as socks and underwear for kids.
  • September – Animal Rescue Foundation – Donated money, food, leashes, treats, cat litter, etc., for rescued animals.
  • November – Food Bank – Held a food drive to help stock the cupboards at their local food bank.
  • December – AAPCCA Hardship Scholarship – Tulsa donated cash to help AAPC members struggling to maintain their membership and/or certification due to an unexpected financial hardship (

Throughout the year, they also donated $300 to Project AAPC,
with a donation made at HEALTHCON and again in December (

What Does the Future Hold for Tulsa?

After taking a couple of years off from their “Fall into Correct Coding” annual conference, they hope to start it up again this fall.
“My hope for our chapter is that we get more people who want to be officers — people who have new, fun ideas to bring to our members,” said Harding.

Michelle Dick
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About Has 257 Posts

Michelle A. Dick, BS, provides writing and editorial expertise to clients. She is a freelance proofreader for Partners & Napier’s Vine Creative Studios and the owner of My Garden Gal, a garden maintenance and landscaping business. Prior to becoming a free agent, Dick was an executive editor for AAPC.

No Responses to “Big Hearts Take Tulsa to the Top”

  1. Jeff Johnson says:

    We all have a big heart, but it is depend on us how we use or who we should awe our hearts. Thank you for this article I learned and Congrats for the success of the team. Keep up the good work guys!