CPHQ Frequently Asked Questions

Before Taking the CPHQ Exam

Do I qualify for the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) examination?
  • There are no formal eligibility requirements to sit for the exam. It is recommended that candidates have at least 2 years of experience in the healthcare quality profession. The exam is written with the 2-year healthcare quality professional in mind. Please refer to the content outline for detailed content information and tools to assess readiness.
Who should become CPHQ Certified?
  • CPHQ candidates and certificants span the continuum of care and hold positions at various levels in their healthcare career. While there are no formal requirements to sit for the CPHQ exam, it is recommended that candidates have at least 2 years of experience in healthcare quality.
Why should I become a CPHQ?
  • COVID-19 has put quality and safety center stage, and those with a strong quality toolkit are thriving in this public health crisis. Once we reach a post-pandemic time, healthcare professionals who possess these quality tools and competencies, embodied by the gold-standard CPHQ credential, will continue to be viewed as invaluable leaders and contributors to their organization.
What does it mean that the CPHQ exam is accredited?
  • The CPHQ exam is the only fully accredited credential in the field of healthcare quality.  
  • The CPHQ is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which is the accrediting arm of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.  
  • The NCCA reviews certifying organizations against a set of rigorous standards and grants accreditation to those who are able to meet those requirements.  
  • The NCCA promotes excellence in competency assurance for practitioners in all occupations and professions by approving their certification processes.  
  • It assures the public and employers of the quality, validity and legal defensibility of the CPHQ credential and attests to the professional commitment of those who achieve this recognition. 
  • To maintain this accreditation status, NAHQ must apply for reaccreditation every 5 years. The CPHQ exam is currently accredited through 2023, and we will apply for reaccreditation at that time.  
What is the passing score?

Preparing for the CPHQ Exam

What does the exam cover?
  • The exam is built from the results of a job analysis that provides objective data to validate the relevance of exam content. This ensures that we maintain the CPHQ exam’s significance while addressing the changing, dynamic environment of healthcare quality. A job analysis is conducted every 3-5 years and surveys the full spectrum of employment settings.
  • The results of the job analysis inform the content outline for the CPHQ exam – to ensure job tasks covered in the exam are current and relevant in today’s environment.
  • The current content outline that the exam covers can be found here.
How long does it take to prepare for the exam?
  • This varies by individual depending on the level of experience in the field and study habits. Based on a recent survey of candidates, on average, candidates spend 6 weeks to 3 months preparing.
What study materials are suggested?
  • You are not required to use study materials in preparation for the exam. However, there are a variety of available study materials, which include virtual instructor-led and online review courses, practice exams and books. View CPHQ exam prep products.

Applying for the CPHQ Exam

Are there any restrictions on where I can test?
  • Candidates residing in non-sanctioned countries are eligible to test.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control administers and enforces economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. against foreign countries. PSI may not engage in business transactions nor provide testing services to any person or entity located in or having residence in the following currently sanctioned countries and China*
    • Crimea Region of Ukraine
    • Cuba**
    • Iran
    • North Korea
    • Syria

*The Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality® (CPHQ) certification examination will no longer be offered in China, for either in-person or online test takers, effective August 1, 2021. This decision was reached after careful consideration by the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) and the Healthcare Quality Certification Commission (HQCC). The CPHQ is central to NAHQ’s mission of developing a competent, qualified healthcare workforce to advance quality and safe patient care. NAHQ is dedicated to maintaining the security and integrity of the CPHQ examination, and ensuring all candidates take the examination under comparable conditions. As interest in the CPHQ examination continues to grow internationally, NAHQ plans to reassess in the future whether the examination can be securely offered in China in the future consistent with NAHQ’s and HQCC’s policies and procedures.

**Educational activity transactions, including those directly incident to the provision of standardized testing services, professional certificate examinations, university entrance examinations, language examinations, and related preparatory services for such exams, are authorized for Cuban nationals, wherever located. Talent and other non-educational assessment related activity is not authorized in Cuba at this time.

How long is the exam?
  • Candidates have a maximum of 3 hours to take the CPHQ exam. 

How many questions are on the exam?
  • There are 125 scored exam questions on the CPHQ exam, and 15 questions that are for ‘pretesting’. Candidates answer these pretest questions to provide statistics on how well the question is performing, but these answers are NOT included in the final pass/fail score of the exam.
How much is the exam fee?
When is the exam offered?
  • If you are located within the United States, the exam is offered 365 days a year, besides major U.S. holidays.
  • If you are located outside of the United States, you can sit for the exam during one of our testing windows. Current testing windows and application periods are listed on the Application page.
Where can I take the exam?
  • The CPHQ exam can now be taken online with a remote proctor, or at a test center. You can check availability via the PSI website for online or in-person testing. Please keep in mind that test center availability is on a first-come, first-served basis. The available test dates and time are displayed in real time and the availability of your preferred test dates and times cannot be guaranteed until you have completed the scheduling process.
  • Learn more about the option to take your exam online and assess if this option is right for you.
I am interested in taking the CPHQ exam at a test center. Can I view a list of test centers near me before applying for the exam?
  • Yes, you can check availability of test centers near you via the PSI website. Please keep in mind that test center availability is on a first-come, first-served basis. The available test dates and time are displayed in real time and the availability of your preferred test dates and times cannot be guaranteed until you have completed the scheduling process.
Once I apply, how long do I have to schedule and sit for my exam?
  • If you are located within the United States, you will have 90 days from your application date to take the CPHQ exam.
  • If you are located outside of the United States, you applied to sit for the CPHQ exam during a specific testing window and will be required to take the exam during that timeframe.
How do I schedule my exam online?
  1. You will receive an eligibility email from PSI. Once you have it, visit https://schedule.psiexams.com/
  2. Select Begin Scheduling.
  3. Fill in the following information:
    1. Healthcare
    2. National Association for Healthcare Quality
      1. Domestic Candidates: Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality Examination
      2. International Candidates: Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality Intl Exam
  4. You will be re-directed to a new page. Select Register for this Exam to schedule your exam.
  5. If you have never registered for a CPHQ exam, select New User. If you have previously sat for the CPHQ exam, log in with your username and password.
  6. Fill in the required information.
  7. There is a section titled Assigned ID. You MUST include the Assigned ID that was provided in your eligibility email received from PSI. If you do not put in the correct Assigned ID, your examination will not appear when logging into your PSI account. Select Continue.
  8. Confirm the information provided is correct and provide your Date of Birth and Gender. Select Next.
  9. Answer the security questions and select Next.
  10. You have the option to schedule your exam online or in-person. Follow the appropriate prompts to select your preferred method to take the exam.
How do I reschedule my exam online?
  • You may reschedule your exam date/time as many times as you would like within your exam eligibility window. However, you must reschedule your examination at least 48 hours in advance of your exam date.
  • Please review this video on instructions to reschedule online or call PSI at 877.714.5686 (U.S. candidates) or 858.875.3688 (international candidates) at least two business days prior to your scheduled exam date and time.
If I have a disability, what accommodations do you make during testing?
  • NAHQ’s exam administrator, PSI, complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and strives to ensure that no individual with a disability—as defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment—is deprived of the opportunity to take the examination solely by reason of that disability.
  • PSI will provide reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities. To request an accommodation, please complete this form. You can also contact PSI’s Accommodations Department  at examaccommodations@psionline.com or 1.800.733.9267, ext. 6750.
  • Please refer to the Domestic Candidate Handbook and the International Candidate Handbook for more information on this process.
Due to circumstances, I can no longer take the CPHQ exam within my designated timeframe. Can I request additional time to schedule and take the exam?
    • An extension may be requested due to the following circumstances:
      • You have received a positive COVID-19 result within the past 14 days of your exam eligibility.
      • You have been impacted by a natural disaster within the last 30 days.
      • You have experienced a major life event (death in the family, unplanned surgery, etc.) within the last 30 days.
    • In order to be considered for additional time to take your exam, your request must be received within your exam eligibility timeframe. If any of the above criteria apply to you, you may request a maximum 90-day extension using the form below:

    • You must complete this form at least five (5) business days before your scheduled exam and/or before your exam eligibility expires. If you do not submit this form within the designated timeframe, your request will be denied. Submitting an extension request form can only be submitted ONCE per paid application.
Who do I contact if I need to reschedule?
  • If you need assistance in scheduling/rescheduling/cancelling your exam, please email exam.supportDM@psionline.com.
  • If you need to report a technical issue related to your online exam, please contact PSI’s technical team.
    •  Customer Service phone numbers:
      • For US: 1-844-267-1017
      • For international: 1-617-564-9052

After Taking the CPHQ Exam

When will I find out the results of my exam?
  • If you are located within the United States, you will receive a copy of your unofficial score report immediately after your exam concludes.
  • If you are located outside the United States, you will receive a copy of your unofficial score report sometime after the close of the testing window. Scores can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks after the close of the testing window to be released. You will receive an email from PSI once scores are available.
    • Please add the @psionline.com domain to your address book or safe sender list to decrease the chances of the email being delivered to your spam folder.
What happens if I do not pass the exam?
  • If you do not pass the CPHQ exam and you wish to retake it, you will be required to wait the appropriate waiting period to reapply.
    • If you are located within the United States, you will need to wait 90 days from the date you did not pass.
    • If you are located outside of the United States, you will need to wait one testing window to reapply.
    • A new application fee is required.
What happens after I pass the exam?
  • After you pass the CPHQ exam and receive your official certificate, you may begin using the CPHQ credential behind your name. Visit the Showcase Your CPHQ web page to learn more about the digital badge available for you to display your earned CPHQ credential.
    • If you are located within the United States, you will receive an email within 2 weeks from the date you passed the exam. The email will include instructions for claiming the digital badge and printing a CPHQ certificate.
    • If you are located outside of the United States, scores are typically released 8 weeks following the end fate of the examination window, and you will receive an email within 3–4 weeks after scores are released. The email will include instructions for claiming the digital badge and printing a CPHQ certificate.
  • Printed certificates and CPHQ pins can be ordered through the NAHQ Catalog.
How do I print my CPHQ certificate?

After you recertify, you can claim your digital badge and print your certificate by logging into the Credly platform. Once you log into the platform, you will be prompted to accept the digital badge, if you have not already done so. You need to accept in order to get to the “Share your badge” section where you can print the certificate. Then lick on the printer icon and a PDF file will download for you to print

This short video walks you through the steps for printing your certificate.

I have a question about the Credly platform. Where can I find support?
  • You can find answers to frequently asked questions here.
Can I attach my badge to my email signature?
  • Yes, adding a hyperlinked badge image to your email signature is a great way to make sure your professional network is aware of your certifications, credentials and other badge-worthy recognition. Please visit the Credly website for instructions on adding your badge to your email signature.
Can I export badges issued through Credly’s platform to other badge-storing platforms?
  • Yes, you can download your badge from the Share Badge page. Your downloaded badge contains Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) compliant metadata embedded into the image. This allows you to store your badge on other OBI-compliant badge sites, such as the Mozilla backpack.
Where and how can I share my badge through Credly’s platform?
What’s to keep someone else from copying my badge and using it?
  • While badges are simply digital image files, they are uniquely linked to data hosted on Credly’s platform. This link to verified data makes them more reliable and secure than a paper-based certificate. It also eliminates the possibility of anyone claiming your credential and your associated identity.
Is there a fee to use Credly’s platform?
  • No. This is a service we provide to you, at no cost.
What if I don’t want my badge to be public?
  • You can easily configure your privacy settings in the Credly platform. You’re in complete control of the information about yourself that is made public.
How will I know if I qualify to claim a badge?
  • If you have earned the CPHQ credential, you will receive an email notification from NAHQ with instructions for claiming your badge and setting up your account.
Who is Credly?
  • Credly is the end-to-end solution for issuing and managing digital credentials. Credly works with credible organizations to provide digital credentials to individuals, worldwide.
What are the benefits of a badge?
  • Representing your skills as a badge gives you a way to share your abilities online in a way that is simple, trusted and can be easily verified in real time. Badges provide employers and peers concrete evidence of what you had to do to earn your credential and what you’re now capable of. Credly’s platform also offers labor market insights, based on your skills. You can search and apply for job opportunities right through the platform.
How does my certification get displayed as a badge?
  • We have partnered with Credly to translate the learning outcomes you’ve demonstrated into a badge, issued and managed through the company’s platform. The technology Credly uses on its platform is based on the Open Badge Standards maintained by IMS Global. This enables you to manage, share and verify your competencies digitally.
What is an open badge?
  • Open badges are web-enabled versions of a credential, certification or learning outcome which can be verified in real-time, online.

Recertifying Your CPHQ

What happens after I recertify?
  • Your digital badge will automatically be updated with Credly your new recertification end date. Information on how to access your badge and print your PDF certificate can be found here. Certificates can also be purchased through the catalog.
  • Your CPHQ program may be selected for audit, so be sure to review your email for any notification of your audit status.
  • You can begin applying CE credits toward your recertification cycle on January 1 following the year after you recertify.
What is continuing education (CE)?
  • Continuing education (CE) is defined by Oxford Languages as, “education provided for adults after they have left the formal education system, consisting typically of short or part-time courses”.
  • NAHQ believes professional development and lifelong learning opportunities are important for all CPHQs and demonstrates their commitment to continuous improvement and career growth.
  • Continuing education activities are important because they:
    • Keep skills and competencies current​
    • Avoid burnout and disengagement at work​
    • Acquire leadership and management expertise for advancement opportunities​
    • Provide knowledge of the latest trends, resources and tools in your field​
    • Expand employment and career options​
    • Add or renew credentials
What requirements do I need to fulfill in order to recertify?
  • Recertification requires 30 CE hours over a 2-year period, and all CE content must be aligned with the current CPHQ content outline. Refer to the CPHQ Recertification Handbook for additional information.
Why am I required to have CE credits?
  • The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) defines recertification as “requirements and procedures established as part of a certification program that certificants must meet to maintain competence and renew their certification.”
  • Continuing competence is “demonstrating specified levels of knowledgeskills or ability not only at the time of initial certification, but throughout an individual’s professional career.”
  • Review the Recertification Handbook for more information.
When can I start earning CE credits toward recertification?
  • You can begin earning CE credits toward your recertification beginning January 1 of the year following your exam date. For example, if you take the exam in June 2020, you begin earning CE credits January 1, 2021. CE credits earned from January 1, 2021-December 31, 2022 can be used toward recertification.
Where can I start earning CE credits?
  • NAHQ provides a variety of CE opportunities, but a great place to start is our Professional Assessment to analyze your current work and identify areas to broaden your exposure to NAHQ’s Healthcare Quality Competency Framework.
  • Professional Assessment is complimentary to all CPHQs to access and provides two CEs.
  • You can also review the NAHQ Catalog and Events Calendar for opportunities to earn CE credits.
  • Be sure you have opted in to receive NAHQ emails, including  reminders of your upcoming recertification date, as well as CE opportunities.
Do my CE activities need to be CPHQ CE Approved?
  • No, your CE activity does not need to be CPHQ CE approved.

How do I know if my CE activity will be accepted?
  • Your CE activity must align to the content outline. The amount of CE credits varies depending on the type of activity. For more information activity types and calculating their CE credits, please review the next question: “How do I calculate my activity into CE hours?”
How do I calculate my activity into CE hours?

Seminar Attendance

Calculate only educational hours: 60 minutes of education equals 1 CE hour. Any course, conference, seminar or summit that aligns with the content outline is acceptable.

View NAHQ Education

Speaking Engagements and Workshop Presentations

Examples include presentations and abstracts given by you to your state or local quality association or as a guest speaker at a college course in healthcare. Presentations given as part of your job or work responsibilities are not accepted for recertification. Four CE hours are awarded per 1 hour of presentation. Presentations given more than once with the same content may be claimed only once during each cycle.

College Coursework

Calculate 15 CE hours for each semester credit hour and 10 CE hours for each quarter hour. Courses with general education are NOT accepted.

CE Article Quizzes

Read the designated CE article in NAHQ’s Journal for Healthcare Quality. One CE hour can be earned for passing the CE article quiz. Visit the NAHQ Store to access the CE article quizzes.

Formal Publication of Articles or Books

Formal publication of articles or books relevant to the CPHQ content outline are accepted for 4 CE hours per each full published page. Poster presentations at conferences are recognized for 4 CE hours for the author.

Can I take the CPHQ exam to recertify?
  • Those who are due to recertify cannot retake the CPHQ exam as a means to recertify.
Do I need to provide documentation of my CE credits when I recertify?
  • No, you only need to provide documentation if you are randomly selected for audit. Those selected for audit will receive an email outlining next steps within a week of recertifying.
What happens if I am selected for an audit?
  • Since the CPHQ recertification program is based on the honor system, it is required by the NCCA to audit a select number of individuals to review the CE credits they submitted. The CPHQ program currently audits 5% of those due to recertify. If you are randomly selected for audit, you will be required to upload support documentation for your CE activities within a designated timeframe.
  • If you are randomly selected for audit, you will be asked to provide documentation that has the following information, at a minimum: date of your activity, timeframe of the activity (or pre-approved CE amount) and title of the activity. You may be requested to provide additional supporting information as needed.
I am not sure I can recertify by my deadline, does the CPHQ recertification program allow for a one-time hardship?
  • At this time, the CPHQ program does not offer a one-time hardship policy and therefore, if you do not recertify by your deadline, your certification will lapse. In order to regain the credential, you will need to retake the CPHQ exam.
  • If you are struggling to find CE activities, be sure to reach out to us at info@nahq.org or 847.375.4720, Monday–Friday between 8 am–4:30 pm CT, so we can assist you in finding activities that can be applied toward your recertification.
What happens if I do not recertify?

If you do not recertify by your stipulated deadline, you will no longer be able to use the CPHQ credential. Should you wish to earn the CPHQ credential at a later time, you will be required to apply and take the exam again.