Am I Eligible to Take the CPHQ Examination?

No minimum education or experience is required to take the CPHQ examination.

A common question that I get is: “I have (ABC education credentials and XYZ number of years of experience). Can I sit the CPHQ exam?”

The Healthcare Quality Certification Commission’s statement on the eligibility requirements for the CPHQ examination can be found in the CPHQ Examination Candidate Handbook (Page 8 of the current, i.e. 2020 issue):

All candidates have complete access to the examination process. Those who aspire to excel and demonstrate their competency in the field of healthcare quality have a chance to do so and achieve certification.

After years of extensive experience in testing research and development and after observing the extraordinarily diverse backgrounds of exceptional candidates who have been successful on the examination and as CPHQs, the commission is confident that the carefully crafted CPHQ examination will differentiate between candidates who are able to demonstrate competence and those who are not. It is with this confidence that HQCC celebrates the elimination of barriers such as minimum education and/or experience requirements that are not objectively linked to success on the examination and effectiveness as a healthcare quality professional.

(It amazes me how the NAHQ/HQCC’s wording on this matter has not changed in more than a decade!)

Our plain-English version of the statement is that anyone, regardless of their education credentials or work experience, may sit the exam.

This, however, should not be misconstrued as meaning that it is appropriate for anyone with some experience in healthcare quality to apply for the exam. Although each case should be judged on its own merit, persons considering CPHQ certification should be aware that the historical pass rates for the CPHQ exam, especially among international candidates, have been quite poor. On average, about 75% of US candidates pass the exam within a calendar year (with reattempts included), while the pass rate among international candidates is substantially lower – 45% in 2018 (the HQCC didn’t publish the 2019 data in its 2020 edition of the International CPHQ Candidate Examination Handbook).

In summary, “anyone” can sit the CPHQ exam. But, based on past data, only about three out of four domestic (i.e. USA) candidates, and only about one in every two international (non-US) candidates, will pass this certifying exam.

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  1. I think that who have experience in quality implementation in hospital X will be one of the( two in every three candidates ) . what is your advice to increase this experience through reading and raise his information in the field of healthcare quality. Can you help me with soft copy of q solution book 2014, Memory Jogger I & II,CPHQ secrets , Team book and Janet brown book 2014. thanks in advane.
    Dr. tharwat

    1. @Tharwat Elsayed – Teh & Associates will NEVER knowingly violate copyright or participate in illegal activity. We are a leading global healthcare consulting firm and have always conducted our business professionally and ethically. If you are trying to acquire valuable resources without paying your dues (and thereby depriving authors and publishers of their rightful income), you’ve come to the wrong place. We suggest you look elsewhere.

  2. I want to buy the materials for study guide, Please where can I go and buy them am 350kilometres away from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia .

    1. @Evangel – I presume you are interested in materials to help you succeed in the CPHQ exam. A member of our team will contact you via e-mail to provide further information.

  3. I want to buy the materials for study guide, Please where can I go and buy them am 350kilometres away from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia .

  4. Hi there
    where is the nearest place from KL that i can sit for this exam after completed your preparation course?
    Please help me and update asap
    Thank you

  5. Hello,
    I completed my Masters in pharmacology. Can you help in career path. And could you please let me know if I am eligible to take the test.

    1. @Krish – Yes, you are probably eligible. I’m not sure what you mean when you asked about help in your career path. I’d be comfortable providing advice on career choices to people I’ve worked with, either on a consulting or educational and training engagement. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have sufficient information to assist.

    1. @KIRUBA THOMAS S – We offer a variety of programs that assist CPHQ exam candidates to pass the exam. The fee varies depending on the program being offered. The CPHQ exam fee is $399 for NAHQ members and $469 for non-members, as of today. Your IP address tells us you are not based in the US, in which case you will have to apply to take the CPHQ exam during one of the four window periods in 2017:

      • March 19–April 1, 2017; application period is November 19, 2016–March 3, 2017
      • July 9–22, 2017; application period is March 4–June 23, 2017
      • September 5–19, 2017; application period is June 24–August 18, 2017
      • December 3–16, 2017; application period is August 19–November 17, 2017
  6. Hi,
    I have been working as an RN for many years in nursing, and I recently think if I could achieve my career more in quality preformen in healthcare. Please help me to get where I can start for CPHQ.

    Thank you!

    1. @Weiling Xiong – There are a few ways to skin a cat. A reasonable and efficient way of approaching the CPHQ exam is to identify your areas of weakness first – this can be achieved by attempting a lot of realistic practice questions. One way we do not recommend is to “study” a book from cover to cover – this method of preparing for the CPHQ exam is not only inefficient, but will also likely be associated with much pain and frustration, and average or below-average results. These days we espouse a customized approach – see our article “What Is the Best Way for Me to Pass the CPHQ Exam?

      1. Andy,
        Thank you so very much for your reply. I still need a book as my reference to study. Do you have any book that you can recommend?
        Do you think anyone can take this CPHQ test without any requirements?

        Thanks again!
        Weiling Xiong

        1. @Weiling Xiong – We cannot recommend any one particular book for CPHQ exam preparation, simply because there isn’t one that offers content that is great for “everything”. However, many people find Janet’s Handbook covers the material satisfactorily and it can be used as a reference. I’m not sure what you mean by “requirements”—there are no minimum education or experience requirements to apply for the CPHQ exam. Even though there are essentially no prerequisites, we don’t recommend people with zero education and experience in healthcare quality management attempt the exam. Although we can help such persons achieve CPHQ certification, we choose not to because we don’t believe CPHQ certification for such individuals will add value to themselves or others in the medium term. Our resources are not unlimited; hence, we aim to do as much meaningful work as possible with what we’ve got.

  7. Hello Andy,
    I am considering taking the CPHQ exam. I have been working in the healthcare Credentialing/Provider Relations setting for 10 years. I recently passed my CPCS exam which has given me the confidence to continue to advance my skills by becoming certified in other related areas. I am interested in possibly taking the in-person course offering in Albany in May 2017. Do you think that I should have been studying for some time before attending the in-person course since it is only two months away? Do you know when the next course will be scheduled for the Albany, NY location?
    Thank you,

    1. @Andrea – Based on the information you’ve provided, I’d suggest you begin reading now. You should probably focus on areas in which you are less familiar first. Two months should be more than adequate time to read up on those topics, ahead of a live exam prep course. I don’t know of any course which will be held in Albany in May – you might like to check with the New York Association for Healthcare Quality about upcoming courses.

  8. Hi,
    I have completed my MBA in health care services after my BSC Nursing course and one year of experience.Am I eligible to attend this test?
    I am interested.can u tel me the details please

  9. Hi,
    I’m considering taking the CPHQ exam as I’d like to start my carrier in health care quality improvement. I have ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt, Master degree in quality systems and PMP with extensive knowledge of quality improvement tools. However I’ve not been working in healthcare industry. Could you pleaese advise if there is any chance for me to pass this exam and what’s your suggestion in this regard?
    Thank You,

  10. Hi,
    I’m considering taking CPHQ exam as I’d like to continue my carrier in health care quality improvement. I have Master degree in quality systems, ASQ Black Belt and PMP with extensive knowledge in quality improvement tools. However I’ve not been working in Health care industry. Could you please advise if there is any chance for me to pass the exam and what’s your suggestion un this regard?

    1. @Farhad – Thanks for reaching out to us! I believe you may be able to pass the CPHQ exam, though it may take some additional work than if you had been working in healthcare for a number of years. Although a role in healthcare quality management is not always possible, the experience may help you tremendously in preparing for the exam, especially if it is in a US setting. Also consider trying as many practice questions as possible, such as those by CPHQ Tutor, to (a) assess your level of preparedness for the exam’s content and (b) identify any gaps in knowledge or skills. The latter is helpful because it is something actionable and, provided you take appropriate action, will help raise your total CPHQ exam score.

  11. Hi,

    im a nurse but working as a Medical Secretary for 6years.
    i have been involved in Quality works of our department (quality improvement plans, performance indicators,etc) as our hospital is in accreditation process.

    i really do not have any background (in terms of study) in quality but doing quality works gives me an idea about it,,and iwant to learn it in the right way bcoz of the feeling that there is a missing puzzle. i am curious how this were planned, monitored, interpret,etc.. Id like to be certified in quality also.

    what training can you recommend me that suits my need?

    1. @Kristine – Great question! Like you, most people acquire their skills in quality management through their work experience, but many attend short programs (e.g. workshops, seminars, lectures) to enhance their skill set. These days, the field of healthcare quality covers a broad range of areas, e.g. leadership, management, communication, data management, compliance, risk management, etc. It is unlikely a single training program will address all these topics effectively. I’d suggest you work on those that relate to your current work first, e.g. quality improvement tools, performance measurement and improvement, and application of the relevant hospital accreditation standards. You will probably be able to find live training providers for these topics both locally and online. The choice of training medium depends on your preferred learning style, motivation, available resources, etc. I’d suggest you develop your skills in healthcare quality a little more before considering CPHQ certification, say, in about a year.

  12. I am a BSc nursing graduate with one and half years of experience in clinical.Am I eligible to take CPHQ exam?

    1. @Nimmy Therese – Yes, I believe you are eligible to take the CPHQ exam. There is no reason why you won’t be eligible. CPHQ candidates who are nurses do not require a minimum amount of experience in healthcare quality or bedside nursing.

      1. I heard that if a person is a cphq holder also without a masteres degree they cannot work in a healthcare quality department.That was the reason I raised that question.

        1. @Nimmy Therese – As you probably already know, employment in a quality department, anywhere in the world, depends on a variety of factors, including academic qualifications, professional credentials (e.g. certifications), licensing, relevant experience, demonstrable track record of getting the job done and being able to work with different people, etc. Does a member of a quality department in any healthcare organization need a Master’s degree? Not necessarily. If his/her job requires advanced skills, then maybe someone with a Master’s degree may be more suitable. Some employers may decide that a Master’s degree, all else being equal, is advantageous. However, not all quality departments feel the same way. I do know of a number of quality departments that insist on CPHQ certification within a defined period of time (e.g. 24 months), if the person isn’t CPHQ certified at the time of hire. I am not aware of any department or organization that has the same requirement for a Master’s degree. In any case, a Master’s degree is definitely not a prerequisite for taking the CPHQ exam.

  13. Hi, I like your analysis. I have just graduated with an MBA IN Healthcare Management. looking at working in healthcare administration, data analysis, communication, CRM etc I was wondering the NAHQ’s CPHQ or HR Principles certificate , which is better? Thanks.

    1. @Winiefred Namubiru Nganda – The two certifications—i.e., the CPHQ certificate and any Human Resource Management certificate – are different. They are not mutually exclusive, which means you can have both(!) and they may be regarded as being complementary to each other. If you have to select only one of them, review the roles and responsibilities of the positions you’re interested in, and pick the certification that best supports the job.

  14. Im specialist Anesthetist and unable to raise the standard of coomon practice .I believe with this certification ,I can influence more on hospital and it will increase my confidence too
    How to start ?
    I’m in Dubai .
    Practically no clue from where to start

    1. @Dr Naveen Aggarwal – Due to your limited experience in quality work per se, I think a reasonable approach is to get your hands on a decent book (e.g. Janet Brown’s Healthcare Quality Handbook) and try to gain an understanding of basic ideas and concepts, skimming through parts you’re already familiar with. I’d also suggest you try as many CPHQ exam practice questions as possible to get you better prepared for the exam and its nuances. CPHQ Tutor would serve as an excellent starting point in this regard!

  15. I have been a Practice Manager and consultant for 25 years. In my previous organization of 50 clinics my clinic was the second to qualify for NCQA. (The first clinic was part of the pilot program.)

    I have a great interest in quality and would like to pursue this as my primary duties. I have been a consultant the past couple of years. The clinics are in compliance as far as I know. I have a strong background in billing and collections.

    What avenue do you suggest I follow for certification? I would like to streamline the process as quickly as possible.

    Thanks for your time and assistance.

    Sharon Fair

    1. @Sharon Fair – Your experience is an advantage. You may consider going through practice questions to identify any gaps in knowledge, and then channel your efforts on those items. I wouldn’t recommend you spend too much time “studying” things you probably already know well. You may also like to attend a CPHQ exam prep workshop to get a feel of what content is emphasized in the CPHQ exam.

    1. @Amal – Yes, you may take the CPHQ exam in selected Middle East countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The CPHQ exam is not offered in Bahrain, Kuwait, or Oman.

  16. Hi
    I am a 38 year old women with 7 years experience in Dubai. I have a diploma in pharmacy. I just wanted to know if I am eligible to do CPHQ Course.
    Thanks in advance

  17. Hi,

    I am interested to take CPHQ exam.Can you recommend me any book first i want to read any related book then will start with CPHQ tutor.I live in Bahrain and CPHQ is going to held in Bahrain or not?

    1. @Amna Zafar – Without knowing your level of knowledge and skills in healthcare quality, or the areas you need to improve relative to the CPHQ exam content outline, I would be hesitant to make any recommendations. Unfortunately, as at today, there is no test center in Bahrain where you can take the CPHQ exam.

  18. hello,
    I have 13 yrs working experience in hospital – 2 yrs Nursing Assistant, 5 yrs Behavioral Health Aide and 6 yrs Perioperative Services Associate in the operating room. I received my masters degree in healthcare administration in 2017 and I have zero practical background in healthcare quality and safety although I accumulated some knowledge in graduate school in healthcare quality and patient safety. I have interest in writing the CPHQ. What should I do? Any guidance, helpful info to get me started and ready with 3 months so I can get my CPHQ?

  19. Hi
    I’m working in a medical centers for 5 years
    But I don’t have any experience in the quality management and I want to improve myself nd I’m interested to have the CPHQ COURSE
    IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ME ? Or I need to take some other courses before that ?

    1. @Amirah Moheisen – Some individuals have passed the CPHQ exam without any work experience in healthcare quality or patient safety. However, your lack of work experience in a relevant field may not be your only disadvantage – your IP addresss places you in the UAE. International candidates tend to need more work to pass the CPHQ exam, even if they are already working in healthcare quality because the exam doesn’t test at an entry level. Therefore, you may benefit from gaining some knowledge in the topics in the exam content outline first – you can achieve this through self-study or a short course in healthcare quality management/improvement (over weeks or months). I doubt you would gain much value from an exam prep workshop or seminar (days) at your current stage.

  20. I am pharmacist and PhD pharmacology. Most of my experience is in teaching and retail sector. Am I eligible for certification of healthcare quality. Guide me for its test and preparation on my mail address. Also send preparatory material. May I appear for this test in Saudia and in Pakistan?

    1. @Mudassar – Based on the information you’ve provided, I believe you would be eligible to take the CPHQ exam. The main generic advice I give these days is: identify your areas for improvement relative to the CPHQ exam content outline, and address them first by using appropriate resources. Without knowing more about you, it’s impossible for me to give you more specific advice. You may like to read our article, “What Is the Best Way for Me to Pass the CPHQ Exam?” You may take the exam at test centers in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

  21. Can a social worker who is an MHA candidate take the exam? I’m currently providing clinical care, but intend to move toward nonprofit/hospital administration.

    1. Hi Mariya,

      A Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) has shown competent knowledge, skill, and understanding of program development and management, quality improvement concepts, coordination of survey processes, communication and education techniques, and departmental management. They do this by passing the CPHQ exam, which is offered by the Healthcare Quality Certification Commission (USA).

      The CPHQ exam content relates to healthcare quality management, not health information management. Although there is some overlap between healthcare quality management and health information management, they are separate disciplines.

      The CPHQ credential is a recognized credential in Canada. Still, I suggest you check with your prospective employer how much they value this certification (sometimes they state this in the job advertisement), even if you are eyeing a healthcare quality position. Most recruiters take a holistic approach to hiring. It is improbable that CPHQ certification will be the sole determinant of recruitment or advancement.

      If you are in Canada’s health information profession, I recommend you pursue the Certified Health Information Management (CHIM) certification.

      If you have other questions, please post them below. I’d be delighted to help.

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