My CPHIMS Journey
By: Erin Groopman
Well I did it… I took the CPHIMS exam at the 2016 Las Vegas HIMSS conference and it was a very challenging test, but I passed! If you aren’t familiar with this exam it’s for Healthcare IT professionals that have either a baccalaureate or graduate degree plus a certain amount of years in the industry, for more information refer to the CPHIMS candidate handbook. They also have a certification called theCAHIMS where the eligibility requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent. The CAHIMS certification would be great for students newer to the industry who are trying to get a competitive edge over others when seeking employment as well as give credibility to those currently working in the industry.
I’m so relieved it’s over and wanted to provide some insight on how I studied for it. My test was in March and I started studying in December. I gave myself a week by week timeline with study goals to accomplish. Here’s an example:
December – Read review guide and take quizzes in back of book to establish baseline knowledge
Week of Jan 4 & Jan 11 – Create study guide from review guide
Week of Jan 18 & 25 – Review study guide and flashcard study system
Week of Feb 1 – Take practice exam
Week of Feb 8- Study weakness areas from practice exam
Remaining weeks prior to test- Continue reviewing study guide
Resources (most helpful to least):
1. CPHIMS Review Guide 2nd Edition – This was very helpful to understand different concepts and areas that would be covered on the test. I read the content twice, then created a summarized study guide. This probably took me the longest time, but it helped me to interpret the material into my own words. I would take this study guide everywhere, including reading it on the treadmill and at coffee shops. If you read the content outline you will see there is a recall, application and analysis aspect to each section on the test. Essentially even if you memorized this entire study guide, it might only help you in the recall aspect of the test. The application and analysis portion is based on personal experience and using some of the concepts to analyze a situation to help you come to a conclusion. Make sure to review the CPHIMS candidate handbook to help you understand how many questions are covered from each content area to help you study.
2. CPHIMS Self Assessment Exam – This was extremely helpful because it gives you a glimpse of how the questions are written and it assesses what content areas are your strengths and weaknesses. After completing the self-exam you can hone in your studying in those areas of need. This was extremely helpful and I’d recommend taking this at the beginning or halfway through your studying. I would still say to study all chapters and when you look at the number of questions per chapter on the test you will see that leadership and analysis have the highest number of questions. I was also surprised that even though I did good on analysis during the practice test and quiz from the back of the review guide, that was the chapter I struggled with the most on the actual test.
3. CPHIMS Boot Camp – This was an all day class put on by a CPHIMS expert at the Vegas HIMSS conference 2 days before I took the test where we went through each chapter from the review guide. It was a long day packed with a lot of helpful information and powerpoint study guide resources. However to be honest I had read through the review guide so much and this was basically a review of that, plus some more practice questions. This was a very good course for visual learners and the instructor really knew his stuff. The boot camp would have been more helpful to take a month or two out from the test instead of 2 days before, but maybe it did help me to cram in the end.
4. CPHIMS Study Flash Cards – These were purchased off Amazon and were the least helpful resource. The flashcards were more along the lines of vocabulary, but didn’t necessarily line up with the content outline.
Other materials I didn’t purchase, but thought might be helpful if you had time to look them over.
HIMSS Dictionary of Healthcare IT Terms
Any PMP or Lean Six Sigma Resources
Make sure to read the CPHIMS candidate handbook multiple times to understand the content outline along with the testing conditions to prepare yourself. The test itself is 115 multiple choice questions, with 15 of those being practice questions. That means you have about 1 minute to answer each question. That isn’t much time, especially if you have to do some calculations and you will use every second of it! The passing score is a 68% and yes the rumors are true, there will be some accounting questions but honestly not a lot and they are pretty self explanatory. I’d suggest studying up on some generic accounting terms and statements related to budgets. My last suggestion would be to read tips on the best way to take tests, so you don’t get stuck on one question then end up having to guess on the last 10. The nice thing about the electronic version is you can tag questions you need to return to during the test. Also just have confidence in yourself! If you haven’t taken a test like this in a while, it’s ok… breathe, pay attention to time, be prepared and you’ve got this! Good luck!