I wanted to write this post because when I first started studying for boards I couldn’t really find that much information on it as the test was only a few years old and relatively few people had taken it. (Currently there are only 1,863 board certified informaticists). This is in contrast to taking the ABIM board where people have been taking the test for decades. Thankfully, I was able to connect with others through my network who were able to provide guidance. For that kindness, I want to pay it forward to folks who are currently preparing to take the test.
For candidates coming in through fellowship, I think the formal curriculum, competencies and didactics will be very helpful in preparing for the board. I was a grandfathered candidate and didn’t have formal training (CI fellowships were only beginning to get started as I was preparing for the test so I’m self-trained). It was helpful that as part of the grandfathering process the Board vetted my application to see if they thought I had garnered enough knowledge and experience to take the test and their approval of my application gave me more confidence that I could pass.
The content of the boards can be found here at the American Board of Preventative Medicine web site (“Clinical Informatics Content Outline”): https://www.theabpm.org/become-certified/exam-content/clinical-informatics-content-outline/ . As you can see, the content reflects the diverse and hybrid skill sets of informaticists. Like all boards, pay attention to the content weighting and focus on studying the sections you might not be as familiar with, especially the ones not formally taught in med school or on the job.
Like studying for any boards, studying for the CI board requires focus and time commitment. I began reading two months before the test and I had a two week period of intense review (used 10 vacation days). Definitely make sure you carve out dedicated study time for review. Some concepts will be very familiar to you, and others will be relatively new and you need time to understand and internalize.
I took the AMIA board review course, which I highly highly highly recommend. The instructors are really experienced and practicing physician informaticists who really care about the field and helping everyone learn and do well and I really appreciated that. I reviewed the course notes 3x and knew them cold. I also read all the recommended readings. The course is available in person and online and it’s the same content. I opted for the in person because I wanted to meet other physician informaticists. I’m 1/6000 people at the health department but the only physician informaticist so I was curious what other physician informaticists taking the test were like. (Turns out many people taking the the test were CMIO’s and/or people who had 15-40 years of experience. Again, there were very few fellowships before and during the time I was taking the test).
I love learning more and more about the field and part of my job is to keep up with industry trends so I am constantly reading articles on different parts of the field, from programs to policy, to the state and trajectory of current technologies as well as emerging technologies. No one except the test writers really know what’s on the test so it’s important to keep up to speed on current and emerging concepts and trends-anything is fair game.
Also, for concepts that are new or seem hypertechnical, doing a quick Wikipedia search (good for summaries) and/or Google search can be super helpful. Sometimes I would Google terms and read several different definitions of a term to make sure I understood it. The repetition and seeing things from different angles also helps with memory.
The main book I used for review was the Finnell and Dixon “Clinical Informatics Study Guide”. (Read it twice. First for understanding and underlining key points, second for review after reviewing AMIA course notes twice). It was relatively concise and very comprehensive. If you have more time, the Shortliffe Biomedical Informatics book is a staple textbook.
After reading the review book and reviewing the course notes, I also made myself a short fast fact study sheet of important concepts, definitions, and terms for each content section in the content outline.
As with all boards, do questions! I did all the AMIA questions and made sure to read all the explanations, even if I answered the question correctly. I also added any new tidbits of information to my study sheet.
Last, the day before and day of the test I reviewed my study sheet.
Feel free to adapt this guide to your study style. If you study better in groups and know other folks taking the test, assemble one. Or put it out there that you are looking for a study partner.
If anyone would like to share any tips, books, and resources they used, please leave a comment below.
As always, my blog posts reflect my opinions and experiences and not those of my employer or any other affiliations