How to take Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP) exam for physician advisors?

If you are passionate about clinical documentation and if you wish to work as a Physician advisor or in a consulting firm offering clinical documentation audits, CDIP (Clinical Documentation Improvement Practitioner) is the right exam for you. It offers work life flexibility and much more.

CDIP exam overview:

If you feel that you have the passion to contribute in the clinical documentation field, I would suggest you take this exam. AHIMA (American Health information management association) offers this exam.

Click on the above link for all the details including the eligibility, resources and exam preparation.

Eligibility requirements: 

To sit for the CDIP exam, candidates must meet one of these eligibility requirements:

  • Hold an RHIA®, RHIT®, CCS®, CCS-P®, RN, MD, or DO and have two years of experience in CDI.
  • Hold an associate’s degree or higher, have three (3) years of experience in CDI, and have completed coursework in Medical Terminology and Anatomy and Physiology.

Scheduling the exam:

If you have any questions including eligibility and other questions, you can always reach out to the AHIMA customer service via an email  at or via phone at 1-800-335-5535.

Once you receive a confirmation regarding your eligibility, you can submit an online application.

Exam Fees

Premier Member Price: $246.05
Member Price: $259
Non-member price: $329

Once your application is reviewed for eligibility. You will receive an ATT (Authorization To Test email). Upon receipt of authorization to test (ATT), read it completely, Schedule exam with Pearson Vue​. Verify what form(s) of Identification are needed at the testing center, Verify time and date of exam.

A candidate’s eligibility period is defined in the Authorization to Test letter (ATT) as a four-month window in which candidates are required to schedule their exam appointment.

Exam Specifications:

The exam is timed for 3 hours. It consists of 140 multiple-choice questions.

Exam Content:

CDIP exam contains 6 domains as listed below:

Download the CDIP Exam Content Outline for information about the competencies within each domain. The exam tests candidates only on content pertaining to the competencies shown.

Domain 1 – Clinical Coding Practice (22-26%)

Domain 2 – Leadership (17-22%)

Domain 3 – Record Review and Document Clarification (24-28%)

Domain 4 – CDI Metrics and Statistics (14-18%)

Domain 5 – Research and Education (11-15%)

Domain 6 – Compliance (4-8%)

Resources and exam preparation:

Here is the link to the resources to prepare for the exam. Recommended Resources for CDIP certification from AHIMA.

I would highly recommend reading this book. Documentation Improvement Principles and Practice by Pamela Carroll Hess, MA, RHIA, CCS, CDIP, CPC. AHIMA Press.

For sample MCQ’s-Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP) Exam Preparation by Sharon Easterling, MHA, RHIA, CCS, CDIP, CPHM, FAHIMA. AHIMA Press.

There are also online resources through AHIMA. CDIP Exam Prep Series. AHIMA Online Education.

AHIMA also offers practice brief’s with latest updates. Eg: How to send compliant queries. It is helpful to review these. It is useful to get AHIMA membership. If you decide to go for AHIMA online course, you will receive free practice exam and exam fee is waived. I would definitely take the online practice exam offered by AHIMA. It gives a pretty good sense of how the real exam would look like.

It is also important to go through the latest CMS official coding guidelines.

Most of the coding questions are based on the above listed guidelines.

Once you receive the ATT (Authorization to test email), please make sure your name listed on the ATT is exactly the same as in your identification card. If you see any spelling mistake or any difference you need to call AHIMA and make changes accordingly.

It is also important to call Pearson Vue testing center customer service as soon as you receive the ATT. The earlier you schedule the exam date, the better it is to get your preferred date and time.

What to expect on the exam day?

You need to arrive at least 15-30 minutes before your exam time. You need to show your ID card. You are not allowed to bring any books to the exam room. You need to keep all your belongings in the locker offered. The exam is 3 hours long. There are no breaks during the exam however, if you wish to take a break, you will be allowed to go but the clock will be running and once you come back, you be scanned again before letting you into the exam room which will take a couple of additional minutes.

Once you have completed the exam, your test results will be printed and given to you after the exam. Exam results will in the form of PASS or FAIL


Once you pass the exam, you will receive an online certification from AHIMA. 


CDIP certification will open a land of opportunities. There are many consulting firms who are looking for MD’s with clinical documentation experience. I hope this information helps anyone thinking about taking this exam.

Thank you,

Sujatha Devale MBBS, CDIP.


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