Getting CPHIMS(R) Certified – Part III

I walked into the testing center at 8:30 (a full 30 minutes before my exam start time as the email suggested I do).

I signed in and was given a key for a locker for my belongings and offered use of the restroom.

I was then asked to read some forms and then was processed. My pockets were turned out and my glasses inspected. I signed in (again) and had the signature on my ID scrutinized with how I signed on test day. It only took three tries … apparently 19 year old me doesn’t sign his name like 39 year old me.

Now it was test time … even if I could remember any of the questions I wouldn’t be able to write about them … but I can’t remember them so it’s not a problem.

It took me 80 minutes to get through the real test of 115 questions (15 are there as ‘test’ questions that don’t actually count). The only real issues I had were:

  • construction noise outside the window to my left
  • the burping guy to my right … seriously bro, cut down on the breakfast burritos
  • one question that I read incorrectly 4 different times. On the fifth time I finally realized my mistake and was able to answer correctly (I think). As it turned out I had guessed what I thought was the correct answer but it was still a good feeling to get the number through a calculation instead of just guessing it

When the test was completed and my questions scored the results came back. A passing score is 600 out of 800. I scored 669 … I am officially CPHIMS. The scoring breakdown even shows areas where I didn’t do so well, so I know what to focus on for the future. For reference, they are:

  • Testing and Evaluation (which is surprising for me)
  • Analysis (again, surprising)
  • Privacy and Security (kind of figured this as it’s not part of my everyday job)

Final Thoughts

When I set this goal for myself at the beginning of the year it was just something that I wanted to do. I didn’t really have a reason for it other than I thought it might be neat.

After passing the exam I am really glad that I did. I’ve heard myself say things and think about things differently, like implementation using Pilots versus Big Bang or By Location versus By Feature.

I’m also asking questions differently of my colleagues and my supervisors to help ensure that the we are doing things for the right reason at the right time.

I can’t wait to see what I try to do next


Getting CPHIMS(R) Certified – Part II

Signing up for the actual exam may have been the most difficult and confusing part. I had to be verified as someone that could take the test, and then my membership needed to be verified (or something).

I received my confirmation email that I could sign up for the exam and read through it to make sure I understood everything. Turns out, when you sign up for the CPHIMS you need to use your FULL name (and I had just used my middle and last name).

One email to the HIMSS people and we’re all set (need to remember that for next time … this exam is the real deal!)

I was going to be in Oceanside for the Fourth of July Holiday and decided to sign up to take the exam in San Diego on the fifth. With a test date in hand I started on my study plan.

Every night when I got home I would spend roughly 45 minutes reading the study book, and going over Flash Cards that I had made with topics that I didn’t understand. Some nights I took off, but it was a solid 35 days of studying for 45 minutes.

Now, 2 things I did not consider:

  1. Scheduling an exam on the fifth is a little like scheduling an exam on Jan 1 … not the best idea in the world
  2. The place my family and I go to in Oceanside always has a ton of friends and family for the weekend (30+) and it would be a less than ideal place to do any last minute studying / cramming

I spent some of the preceding weekend reading and reviewing flash cards, but once the full retinue of friends and family arrived it was pretty much over. I had some chances to read on the beach, but for the most part my studying stopped.

The morning of the fifth came. I made the 40 minutes drive from Oceanside to the testing center to take the CPHIMS exam for real.


Getting CPHIMS(R) Certified – Part I

One of my professional goals for 2017 was to get my CPHIMS (Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems). The CPHIMS certification is offered through HIMSS which “Demonstrates you meet an international standard of professional knowledge and competence in healthcare information and management systems”.

There was no requirement for my job to get this certification, I just thought that it would be helpful for me if I better understood the Information and Management Systems part of Healthcare.

With not much more than an idea, I started on my journey to getting certification. I did some research to see what resources were available to me and found a Practice Exam, a Book and a multitude of other helpful study aids. I decided to start with the Practice Exam and see what I’d need after that.

In early March I signed up for the Practice Exam. I found all sorts of reasons to put off taking the exam, but then I noticed that my Practice Exam had an expiration date in May. One Sunday, figure “what the hell, let’s just get this over with” I sat down at my iMac and started the exam.

I really had no idea what to expect other than 100 questions. After about 20 minutes I very nearly stopped. Not because the exam was super difficult, but because I had picked a bad time to take a practice exam. My head wasn’t really in the game, and my heart just wanted to go watch baseball.

But I powered on through. The practice exam was nice in that it would give you immediate feedback if you got the question right or wrong. It wouldn’t be like that on test day, but it was good to know where I stood as I went through this practice version.

After 50 minutes I completed the exam and saw that I had a score of 70. I figured that wouldn’t be a passing score, but then saw that the cutoff point was 68. So I passed the practice test.

OK, now it was time to get serious. Without any studying or preparation (other than the 8+ years in HIT) I was able to pass what is arguably a difficult exam.

The next thing to do was to sign up for the real thing ..