Monday, July 7, 2014

Passing the ANCC Informatics Nursing Board Certification

Taking the ANCC Informatics Nursing Board Certification Exam

I was able to pass my nursing informatics board certification on July 2! There is really a lack of information out there about the test. It was a completely different experience then testing for the NCLEX or my other two board certifications (inpatient obstetrics and electronic fetal monitoring). Hopefully my experience will be helpful for some other test candidates. Please note the exam is changing in October 2014! I can't speak to any of those changes.


Passing this exam gives you board certification (the RN-BC credential) in informatics nursing. According to the ANCC the informatics nursing exam "is a competency based examination that provides a valid and reliable assessment of the entry-level clinical knowledge and skills of registered nurses in the informatics specialty". The eligibility for this exam was much different than the other certifications I've held. In order to be eligible for the informatics nursing exam you must have a bachelor's degree, have practiced as a Registered Nurse for at least two years, and have completed at least 30 CEUs in nursing informatics in the past 3 years. In addition to these requirements, in the last three years you must have either:
  • practiced 2,000 hours in nursing informatics 
  • practiced 1,000 hours and have taken at least 12 credit hours of school work in nursing informatics 
  • completed a master's degree that had at least a 200 hour supervised practicum 

I ended up studying for about a month after school let out. I had scheduled my date right after I got my authorization to test, and didn't feel completely prepared the day I tested, but went in anyway. If you fail the test you get a score and a breakdown of your performance by section so you will know what to study in the future.

Applying to Take the Test

Getting permission to take the test was a longer process than I expected. I applied to take the test while I was still in school, in the beginning of May. After I applied, the ANCC contacted me to let me know that they wanted official transcripts. I sent them off as soon as my MSN was posted (May 16th), and June 4th they approved my application to test, and received the electronic authorization to test on June 5th. This let me schedule my appointment at the Prometric test center, which was a crap shoot of what days and times we available at which locations. I knew I wanted a mid-day appointment (I can't function at 7:30 am!) so I had to drive a little further to schedule my test before my vacation.

Study Aids

Content Outline & Reference List

ANCC offers a content outline for the exam. This should be your first stop for studying. The current test breakup is 37% information management and knowledge generation, 27% professional practice, 22% SDLC, and 14% IT. This is changing substantially for the new exam in October, so make sure you know which version you will be taking. The ANCC also offers a reference list of books, which isn't the most helpful because it seems to contain almost every nursing informatics book ever written. Once again there is a version for the current exam, and for the new exam. The good news is the new reference list is being cut from 36 books to 15!

Test Questions

Mock test questions are my favorite way to prepare for exams. Unfortunately, test questions for the informatics nursing test are limited. The ANCC offers 25 sample test questions and answers for free on their website. This is a good way to assess your initial readiness to test. The Mometrix book contained 50 test questions with rationales. I don't think these questions were very indicative of what was on the exam. You can also access these test questions online. Finally, you can purchase 150 questions from ANCC themselves. These questions are $109 for 90 days worth of access. The questions are broken down in to two 75 question practice exams, and the passing rate is set at 75%. Rationales are included with this exam. I thought these practice questions were the most helpful.

Master's Degree

I took this exam about a month and a half after I finished my master's degree in nursing informatics from the University of Maryland Baltimore. Overall, I learned most of the major content that was on the test during my degree. I did have to perform extra practicum hours to be eligible to take the exam. My cohort was only required to have 96 practicum hours, but I completed 200 instead.

Review Course

I attended the Nursing Informatics Certification Review Intensive CE Series during the last months of my graduate degree. The review course consists of seven live webinars, about 20 learning modules, and a practice exam. The webinars are recorded if you cannot attend. The best part about this review course is that you earn 20 CEUs, which is great if you need CEUs to sit for the exam. ANIA has a special member rate ($340) for this course. Overall, I thought the class was very well run and informative, but much of the information was redundant with what I had learned in my degree, and taking this review while trying to write my thesis totally stressed me out. I would recommend it to those who need a brush-up on the basic concepts of nursing informatics (data, information, wisdom, knowledge, and the SDLC).


Mometrix Informatics Nurse Exam Secrets Study Guide
Not recommended! This book is terrible. I can't believe I paid $50 for it. It is totally unorganized, missing vital information, and doesn't provide rationales or references.
Handbook of Informatics for Nurses & Healthcare Professionals by Hebda & Czar
I had already purchased this book for a class, so this was my go-to book for most of the information I needed. It's clear and concise. It's weaknesses are the SDLC, but it has a lot of good information. 
I also had this one sitting around from my degree. It overlaps pretty heavily with the Handbook of Informatics, but has more information on certain subjects. It is the original nursing informatics book. You could probably get by with either this book or the Handbook.
Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice by the ANA
This should be the first book you buy and read. Memorize it all! Many of the questions on the test could have been answered by knowing everything in this book. It has the quintessential definitions of data, information, wisdom, and knowledge. You will also need to know what functions and levels of nursing informaticists exist, and there were a few questions regarding ethics. 

Congrats, you passed!

After the exam ends you will have to complete a post-test questionnaire from ANCC (don't run out of the room without taking it, like me. The proctor will send you back in.). Then you can leave the testing room and the proctor will give you a handout that says whether you passed or failed. If you get the same proctor as me she will hand the paper to you stone-faced, making you think that you failed. But congratulations on passing! The ANCC offers a handy little cheat sheet to help you display your new credentials. 

I hope some of this information is helpful to you in your studies. Let me know how you do on your exam!