Many CPHQ candidates use Janet Brown’s The Healthcare Quality Handbook: A Professional Resource and Study Guide to help them prepare for the exam. Depending on various factors specific to the candidate, this choice may or may not be the most appropriate, i.e. there may be alternative resources that will better suit the individual candidate’s preferences and circumstances. While The Healthcare Quality Handbook is arguably one of the better texts on the market, we think that a large proportion of candidates have unrealistic expectations from using this Handbook and read/study it in a way that hinders their performance on the exam instead of enhancing it.
Myths About Reading The Healthcare Quality Handbook
A number of misconceptions surround the use of Janet Brown’s The Healthcare Quality Handbook. Below are only three of the commoner ones:
- “I need Janet Brown’s book in order to pass the exam.”
As mentioned above, many people use this book when preparing for the CPHQ exam. Some of them pass and some of them don’t. (You always hear public feedback from those who had passed but never those who had failed, hence obtaining a biased view.) Use of The Healthcare Quality Handbook does not guarantee that you pass the exam. In our fairly large (and growing) sample of candidates, the proportion who use the Handbook exclusively, or almost exclusively, that pass the exam is approximately equal to that of candidates who use alternative resources (and don’t read Janet Brown’s Handbook at all) that pass. This finding should not be misinterpreted as proving the Handbook has no positive effect on candidates’ ability to pass the exam; we believe it merely confirms our long-held suspicion that the information contained in the Handbook is not unique—it can be found elsewhere. Factual information about healthcare quality management—like gravity and the story of Isaac Newton’s apple—are universal. The content will be almost identical whichever book you pick up. The difference between texts is the way the information is organized and presented. Janet Brown’s Handbook claims to cover the entire CPHQ exam content outline (which is debatable) but there is disagreement among candidates about how well the information is organized. Several persons have asked us to help them focus on the areas in Janet Brown’s Handbook that really matter because they have found the text too large and complex to digest.
- “Try all the questions in Janet Brown’s book to pass the exam.”
The study questions in the Handbook are not meant to be used as a “pretest” (but many people treat them as such) but “offer you an opportunity to practice critical thought process” (which only a small proportion of people actually do, partly due to lack of proper mentoring/coaching). Occasionally, candidates complain that those questions found in the book are nothing like the ones on the actual exam. Again, this reflects poor usage of the book and unrealistic expectations rather than a shortcoming of the author or her work.
- “If I don’t buy Janet Brown’s book, I will fail the CPHQ exam.”
Ownership of this or any other book will not determine whether you pass or fail the exam. No book will give you the correct answers to a substantial number of questions on the actual exam because the CPHQ exam is a professional exam—it tests the candidate’s “knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform the tasks significant to practice in the CPHQ examination content outline.” Therefore, unless you are able to apply the information found in Janet Brown’s Handbook (or any other text, for that matter), you will struggle in the exam.
A Concise Guide to Janet Brown’s The Healthcare Quality Handbook
In response to several requests, we are pleased to provide a guide to reading Janet Brown’s The Healthcare Quality Handbook. Our private students have reported the guide being helpful in enabling them to focus on the pertinent parts of the Handbook, which would otherwise be too overwhelming due to its voluminous nature.
This guide will be available in an online version to members of the Teh & Associates website only, and will be rolled out in parts. We ask that members not share the information contained in the guide. Access to this guide will be closely monitored and controlled (if necessary) to prevent abuse.
The benefits of the guide include:
- Highlighting of the sections of The Healthcare Quality Handbook that add value to CPHQ exam preparation. As we intend to emphasize the important topics, persons who do not have the Handbook may also benefit because they can find relevant information from alternative sources.
- Addressing information that we believe is not entirely accurate or require qualification and/or clarification.
- Pointing out areas that are highly examinable.
This guide does not aim to be comprehensive or detailed. It will probably help to lessen the burden of reading the entire text (if that was your original intention), and will also offer a snippet of our approach to training private students. The guide does not intend to show you how to apply the information that is found in the Handbook in actual quality management practice—the latter is achieved through attempting our CPHQ exam practice questions (and reading our explanations to their answers), participating in our CPHQ exam preparation workshops, working with us as a private student, and/or participating in a Teh & Associates internship program.
Needless to say, if you own the Handbook and are happy reading each page from cover to cover with the intention of memorizing every point, this guide will not be helpful to you. In this case, I recommend you do not look at the guide as it will merely add to the amount of reading you have to do without much potential gain.
Our approach involves a distillation of information, one that concentrates only on the facts, principles, and concepts that are most pertinent to the practicing healthcare quality professional—the exact same things that are frequently tested on the CPHQ exam. As much as possible, we remove non-value adding material (superfluous “fluff”) because the latter usually means wasted time, energy, and money. And in doing so, we believe we add value.