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Top 10 Ways to Prepare for the CIIP Exam
Michael Toland and Paul Nagy, PhD
The Imaging Informatics Professional Certification exam, offered by the American Board of Imaging Informatics (ABII), is a great way to test your knowledge of the imaging informatics industry. It covers all facets of the profession as it has matured over the years. Ranging from behavioral to technical to business, the certification allows its takers to demonstrate skills in IT, imaging workflows, and user interaction.
Interested members of the radiology IT staff and Informatics Fellows at the University of Maryland formed a study group in November of 2009 to prepare for the IIP exam. Below is a list of our top 10 suggestions for preparing for the exam.
- Organize a study group: An excellent place to start is to organize a study group for the IIP exam. Identify a group leader who can take care of the lecture topics, schedules, and communications. We also suggest getting a written commitment from the participants, which adds value to the overall group. If you are attending the SIIM Annual Meeting, take advantage of the CIIP study groups there.
- Review the TCO: The test content outline, which you can review on the ABII website, is a great resource for topics to study. As a group, decide how to break down the content into lecture topics for which participants can present information, being sure to dedicate more time to topics that make up a larger portion of the exam. It is important that this also aligns with the schedule for preparations and review prior to the IIP exam.
- Student-led Lectures: We took a two-pronged approach to presenting the information that offered two benefits. One benefit is that this approach offers those who are not strong in a particular topic to increase their strengths through extra preparation in that topic. Another benefit was that experts in given topics were able to present to others who were not as strong, providing a well-rounded approach to studying.
- Share Study Resources: We utilized freely available tools to share our presentations and learning materials to the group. We created a shared folder of resources in Google Documents that was available to all members of the study group. This proved to be a great tool for those reviewing topics and lectures prior to the examination.
- Wide Range of Resources: As the IIP exam matures, more and more guides will be available to assist those who want to take the exam. For now, several publications cover many topics. In our group we used a single textbook (Practical Imaging Informatics: Foundations and Applications for PACS Professionals, edited by B.F. Branstetter and published by SIIM), but also found that many industry websites – including those of SIIM and IHE – offer excellent exam prep tools and general information about imaging informatics.
- Know the ABII Website: The ABII website offers the best information about the IIP certification exam. It is important to stay up-to-date with the information on this site about registration deadlines (several months before exam), exam requirements, test content, and exam preparation.
- Structure and Consistency: It is easy to become distracted by support issues and other daily work occurrences. We found that having consistent times for study group lectures was extremely helpful. We also broke down the test content outline into defined, detailed topics for lectures, and this structure helped to drive the schedule.
- Real-life Examples: Our student-led lectures covered all of the topics of the test content outline. It was especially helpful to be able to point to real-life applications of these topics in our environment. Examples included discussing high-level storage concepts and ways in which these are applied in our institution, as well as integrating lessons from systems management topics, such as problem management systems. Real-life examples help to internalize general knowledge.
- Simulation Labs: These are a great way to see the entire picture of a workflow scenario. With test environments and open-source tools, such as DVTK, students can follow the life of a study from exam ordering to image archive or follow an image through the PACS from acquisition to archive on storage devices. This is one way to demonstrate overall understanding of the system and ask questions along the way.
- Review Sessions: The IIP exam covers a wide range of topics from several different aspects of imaging informatics. Review sessions are a great way to prepare using the vast information and learning materials acquired from the study group. Coupled with the shared resources, we were able to provide engaging review sessions as a group with the experts of each topic available to review their specialties.
Michael Toland is PACS team manager at the University of Maryland Medical System. Paul Nagy is Associate Professor in the Radiology Department at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Secretary of the ABII Board of Trustees.
Note: SIIM has a plethora of resources for those studying to be CIIPs, including the Practical Imaging Informatics textbook mentioned above as well as e-learning and the coursework offered at the SIIM Annual Meeting and Imaging Informatics Professionals Bootcamp. Visit the IIP Community page for more information.