Nursing Informatics Certifications from the ANCC & HIMSS

As the name suggests, nursing informatics lies at the intersection of computers, nursing, and information science. In order to provide timely patient care, nurses need to keep track of test results and medical data, communicate clearly, and develop robust organizational systems. Thus, they use technology such as computerized provider order entry (CPOE) and electronic medical records (EMRs). The work of nursing informaticists has helped reduce errors and delays in patient care, decrease healthcare costs, and improve the overall efficiency of healthcare systems.

For those who aspire to become nursing informaticists, a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) is the minimum requirement, while advanced degrees such as the master of nursing (MSN) and doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) are vital for leadership roles. Although it is not necessary to have certification in nursing informatics to work in the field, it is a coveted credential. It shows employers that the candidate is highly competent and can take up positions of responsibility. A certification in nursing informatics can be obtained from an independent organization such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which offers the RN-BC certification.

This article describes the three primary certifications available in nursing informatics.

Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC)

Registered nurses can become certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), an affiliate of the American Nurses Association (ANA).

  • Cost: Non-member ($395), American Nurses Association member ($295), American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA) member ($340)
  • Duration of exam: 3.5 hours

What is the ANCC? (American Nurses Credentialing Center)

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is a certification body with a sole mission: to promote healthcare and nursing excellence all over the world. In order to achieve this objective, it has introduced various internationally recognized credentialing programs.

Most certifications offered by the ANCC are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification (ABSNC) or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Generally, these certification examinations are in a multiple-choice format, while some include alternate test item types such as hotspot, multiple responses, and drop and drag. Examinations are offered at international and domestic test centers. Through these exams, the ANCC objectively assesses entry-level competency in advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) and validates nursing practice specialties, as well as interprofessional practice in specialty fields.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) examination. After successfully passing this examination, nurses are awarded the credential: Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC).

The ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) Informatics Nursing board certification examination evaluates the competency of a nurse, providing a reliable and valid assessment of entry-level clinical skills and knowledge of informatics. This credential has a validity of five years, after which nurses can renew their certification by meeting the stated renewal requirements.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements for obtaining the RN-BC certification include:

  • Holding an active RN license in a territory or state of the United States, or holding a professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country
  • Holding a bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • Having practiced the equivalent of two years full-time as a registered nurse
  • Completing 30 hours of continuing education in informatics nursing within the last three years
  • Practicing a minimum of 2,000 hours in informatics nursing or practicing a minimum of 1,000 hours in informatics nursing in the last three years and completing a minimum of 12 semester-hours of academic credit in informatics courses, or completing a graduate program in informatics nursing containing a minimum of 200 hours

The Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC) Exam

This exam consists of 175 questions. Of these, 150 are scored questions and 25 are pretest questions that are not scored. Nurses have three-and-a-half hours to finish the exam. Each certification exam offered by ANCC has a free test content outline, reference list, and sample questions available that nurses can use to prepare for the examination.

ANCC delivers its certification examinations via computer-based testing, all year round. After receiving an “Authorization to Test Notice,” nurses have 90 days to make an appointment with Prometric to take the test. They cannot schedule an appointment prior to receiving their Notice or after its expiration date.

If someone is unable to test during the 90-day window, they may, one time only, request a new 90-day testing window. After arriving at the test center, nurses must present one form of acceptable identification from the list below:

  • Driver’s license issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • State identification issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • U.S. military identification
  • Passport

Retesting for the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC)

If a candidate does not pass the examination, they may retest after 60 days from the date last tested. They may not test more than three times in a 12-month period. Applicants who retest must submit a retest application and meet eligibility requirements.

Renewal & Recertification Information for the Informatics Nursing Certification (RN-BC)

Nurses renew their certification every five years providing evidence to the public that they have met requirements for continued competence by updating their knowledge and showcasing a commitment to lifelong learning. Certification renewal may also permit them to seek reimbursement, potential employer recognition, and continued licensure. Certification renewal is required for continued use of their ANCC certification credentials. If they choose not to renew their ANCC certification, then they must cease using their ANCC credentials after their certification expires.

To renew their certification, nurses are required to submit a renewal application up to one year prior to certification expiration. Before they start a renewal application online, they are required to enter and store proof of professional development in their ANCC online account.

After submitting the renewal application, nurses will receive confirmation of receipt, followed by communication through mail, phone, or email if there are any questions about their application or supporting documents. Once approved, applicants will receive a letter, followed by a new certificate, pin, and certification card in the mail. Cost of renewal is as follows:

  • Non-member – $350
  • American Nurses Association members – $250
  • American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA) members – $295

Why is the RN-BC Credential Important?

When you see someone with the initials RN-BC after their name, it means that they are registered nurses who have achieved board certification in their specialty area. This designation refers to certification by the board, which means that the concerned nurse has met the standards of quality and excellence established by the certification organization.

Typical career paths for nurses begin when they complete a two- or four-year program of study leading to a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, or a nursing diploma. After finishing their education, nurses are required to pass a standard exam for nurses all over the nation—the NCLEX-RN—to obtain a license and become legally authorized to practice nursing.

Once completed, an RN can work in healthcare facilities including outpatient centers, hospitals, doctors’ offices, public health programs, correctional facilities, schools, or the military. After they earn their RN license, nurses can then become board-certified.

Certified Professional in Health Informatics (CPHI)

As of May 30, 2019, AHIMA no longer offers a certification for nurses seeking the Certified Professional in Health Informatics (CPHI) credential.

Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS)

The Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) offers the CAHIMS credential to health information experts, including nurses.

  • Cost: HIMSS individual organizational affiliate member ($190); HIMSS regular, corporate or student member ($240); non-member ($315)
  • Duration of exam: Two hours

What is HIMSS?

The Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is a not-for-profit organization with a focus on better health through information technology (IT). It is a global organization that produces thought leadership in health IT events, education, media, and market research services around the world.

HIMSS conducts certification examinations for programs in healthcare information and management systems:

  • CPHIMS (Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems)
  • CAHIMS (Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems)

Each certification examination is designed for testing a well-defined body of knowledge representative of professional practice in healthcare information and management systems. When a candidate successfully completes a certification exam, it shows that they have satisfactory knowledge about healthcare information management and systems. Certification examinations conducted by HIMSS are independent of each other. Each of them results in a certification credential in healthcare information.

Eligibility Requirements for the CAHIMS Certification

Applicants meeting the eligibility requirements and passing the CAHIMS examination attain the CAHIMS designation. To become eligible for the CAHIMS exam, applicants are only required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Currently, this is the only requirement for eligibility.

The CAHIMS Certification Exam

The CAHIMS Examination is structured as follows:

  • The exam includes 115 multiple-choice questions: 100 are scored questions, and the remaining 15 are trial or pretest questions
  • Applicants are given two hours to complete the examination
  • The examination is based on three major content areas: general, healthcare information and systems management, and administration.

CAHIMS exams are conducted at Prometric Testing Centers or at specific HIMSS events, such as the HIMSS Annual Conference. Candidates are required to apply for the exam and receive an eligibility number. Then, they can make a reservation to test.

After fulfilling the eligibility requirements, a student may apply for the CAHIMS examination online or submit a paper application. For admission to the AMP assessment center or a testing room, candidates must present two forms of identification. The first must be a government-issued ID and have the name of the candidate, his or her signature, and photo. Temporary identification will not be accepted. The use of a silent, non-programmable calculator without a paper tape-printing capability or alpha keypad is permitted during testing.

Approximately eight weeks after the applicant has passed the CAHIMS Examination, HIMSS will mail a certificate of recognition to the candidate.

Retesting for the CAHIMS Certification

If an applicant does not pass the CAHIMS examination, they can schedule a retake; a candidate can retake the exam an unlimited number of times. Those who wish to retake the exam must apply online, or they can submit a re-application form along with their score report. They must pay the full CAHIMS exam fee and take the exam within 90 days of the failed attempt. An applicant who applies to retake the examination after 90 days must submit a complete application and the full examination fee.

Renewal & Recertification Information for the CAHIMS Certification

Renewing the CAHIMS certification is required for maintaining certified status and demonstrating one’s ongoing commitment to remain current in the field. Initial certification is valid for three years. The CAHIMS renewal application may be submitted up to six months in advance, but students must submit their application at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the certificate.

Applicants can renew their CAHIMS credential through one of the following ways:

  • Re-examination: In this way, students are required to successfully pass the CAHIMS examination. Additional CAHIMS renewal fees will not be required if candidates select this way to renew their designation.
  • Completion of 45 clock-hours of continuing professional education: To renew the credential this way, candidates will be required to submit a complete CAHIMS renewal application with the appropriate fee and report all eligible continuing professional education activities that they completed during their renewal period.

Candidates who fail to renew their CAHIMS certification will no longer considered certified and cannot use their CAHIMS credential in professional communications. To regain certification, they must retake and pass the CAHIMS examination.

Why is the CAHIMS Credential Important?

The Certified Associate in Health Information & Management Systems (CAHIMS) credential from the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is a new health IT certification designed for emerging professionals within the industry (professionals who have five or less years of experience).

CAHIMS certification demonstrates to employers that the concerned candidate has strong foundational knowledge in health information and management systems. This certification is a way for professionals to add value to their resumes, quantify their skills, and show potential employers they have the necessary skills required for the job.

Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)

The Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) offers the CPHIMS credential to health information professionals, including nurses.

  • Cost: HIMSS organizational affiliate member ($375), HIMSS member ($405), non-member ($525)
  • Duration of exam: Two hours

Eligibility Requirements for the CPHIMS Certification

In order to become eligible for the exam, students must fulfill one of the following requirements:

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, plus five years of information and management systems experience (three of those years in a healthcare setting)
  • Graduate degree (or higher) from an accredited college or university, plus three years of information and management systems experience (two of those years in a healthcare setting)

The CPHIMS Certification Exam

The CPHIMS examination is structured as follows:

  • The exam includes 115 multiple-choice questions. One hundred of the questions will be scored, while others are trial or pretest questions.
  • Applicants will have two hours for completing this examination.
  • The exam is based on three major content areas: general, systems, and administration.

The CPHIMS examination is administered in the following ways:

  • Computer-based testing at AMP Assessment Centers worldwide or
  • At the time of special administrations such as conferences, meetings, and other specially-arranged sessions

An applicant who meets all eligibility requirements must make an appointment for testing and take the CPHIMS examination within ninety (90) days from confirmation of eligibility from AMP. The examination may be offered on laptop or in paper-and-pencil format during conferences or meetings.

Candidates must note that no personal items will be allowed in the testing room; only silent, non-programmable calculators without alpha keys or printing capability are permitted. While pencils will be provided during check-in, students are not allowed to eat, drink, or smoke. Also, no guests, visitors, or family members are allowed in the testing room either. Approximately eight weeks after the applicant has passed the CPHIMS examination, HIMSS mails the applicant a certificate of recognition.

Retesting for the CPHIMS Certification

If a candidate fails the CPHIMS Examination, they can make another appointment for the exam. A candidate can retake this examination any number of times. Applicants can either retake the exam by applying online or submitting a re-application form with their scores attached.

A full CPHIMS examination fee must be paid, and the exam should be taken within 90 days following the failed examination. An applicant who applies to retake the examination after 90 days must submit a complete application and full examination fee.

Renewal & Recertification Information for the CPHIMS Certification

In order to maintain their certified status and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing learning, candidates must renew their CPHIMS certification, as the certification is only valid for three years.

Students must submit a renewal application at least 30 days before their certification expires, although they are allowed to start the process six months prior to expiration. HIMSS will email impending expiration to candidates, provided their contact information is accurate.

Applicants can renew their CPHIMS credential in one of the following ways:

  • Re-examination: Students are required to successfully pass the CPHIMS examination. They will not have to pay additional CPHIMS renewal fee, if they choose to renew their designation this way.
  • Completion of 45 clock-hours of continuing professional education: To renew their certification credential by this route, candidates must submit a complete CPHIMS renewal application, required fee, and state all the continuing professional education activities they have completed during their renewal period.

Failing to renew their CPHIMS certification, candidates will no longer be considered certified by the HIMSS, nor can their CPHIMS credential be used in professional communications. To regain certification, it is imperative that they retake and pass the CPHIMS examination.

Why is the CPHIMS Certification Important?

The Certified Professional in Health Information & Management Systems (CPHIMS) credential from the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is a professional certification program for healthcare information and management systems professionals. This certification demonstrates that the candidate has met international standards of competence and has professional-level knowledge in healthcare information and management systems.

The credential can increase a candidate’s credibility with employers. Further, nurses who have earned this certification reflect a commitment to continuing professional development; this is considered a major professional and personal achievement.

Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani Writer

Farheen Gani is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).