Frequently Asked Questions
Point-of-Care, Bedside, Focused, Limited and Handheld are commonly used terms to modify the word “ultrasound”, although the term point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has been widely adopted.
The working definition of POCUS used by The POCUS Certification Academy is “the simultaneous acquisition and interpretation of ultrasound images at the patient’s bedside by a healthcare professional to immediately inform diagnosis or treatment, or to aid in the completion of procedures.”
The POCUS Certification Academy is designed for individuals with education or experience in healthcare. This includes, but is not limited to, physicians, physician assistants, chiropractors, podiatrists, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and those in medical training for the aforementioned roles.
All of the certificates and certifications offered through the POCUS Certification Academy require that you attest to the accuracy of your information. Additionally, you’ll be required to complete a Confidentiality and Nondisclosure Agreement before starting the assessments.
Specific experiential requirements at the certificate and certification level may apply. There are no additional requirements for the POCUS Fundamentals Certificate. However, it is recommended that applicants have education and experience in ultrasound physics prior to enrollment.
For a Clinical or a Specialty Certification, enrollment is available for healthcare practitioners whose scope of practice allows them to use POCUS to make a diagnosis or to enhance their clinical and therapeutic decision-making. In addition, you must satisfy the experience requirements related to the appropriate content area(s) which are satisfied through the acquisition and interpretation of at least a certain number of cases for the content area within the past two years.
Content-specific experience requirements are as follows:
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA): 15 cases
- Abdominal Trauma: 20 cases
- Cardiac: 30 cases
- Gastrointestinal: 25 cases
- Hepatobiliary/Spleen: 25 cases
- Lower Extremity Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): 20 cases
- Lung: 20 cases
- Musculoskeletal (MSK) Soft Tissue: 20 cases
- Obstetrics/1st Trimester: 25 cases (with a combination of transvaginal and transabdominal scanning)
- Renal/Genitourinary: 20 cases
Different certificates have different assessments. An overview is provided here, but more details can be found in the How to Prepare section.
For the Point-of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) Fundamentals Certificate, you have to complete 8 (eight) modules (by either completing the Reviews or Knowledge Checks), and you have to pass a 35 question, multiple-choice examination. Once you register, you will be given 30 (thirty) days to complete the process.
For the Clinical Certificates and Specialty Certifications, you have to complete a Peer Evaluation concerning your POCUS abilities for the content area(s) of interest, as well as a Clinical Case Assessment for each content area. For the Clinical Certificates, you will have 90 (ninety) days to complete both the Peer Evaluation and the Clinical Case Assessment once you register. For the Specialty Certifications, you will have 180 days from registration to complete all assessment components (the Practical Component with peer evaluations and video submissions along with all of the Clinical Case Assessments).
The Clinical Case Assessment presents simulated cases with questions regarding POCUS. The number of cases presented varies by content area, and the number of questions per case also varies per content area. A good rule of thumb is to allow 20-30 minutes per case, but many will people will find that they actually use less time.
Earning a Certificate or Specialty Certification from the Point-of-Care (POCUS) Certification Academy acknowledges that a provider possesses a core body of POCUS knowledge. Your Certificate or Specialty Certification stands as a commitment to professional and ethical service and illustrates your dedication to lifelong learning through continual growth and professional development. Providers may choose to pursue Certificates or Specialty Certifications for a variety of reasons, including:
- Shows your commitment to excellence in patient care
- Documents the highest attainable certification in POCUS
- Provides a critical edge in supporting patient safety
- Communicates to your peers and patients a commitment to safe, ethical practice
- Validates your expertise in POCUS
- Promotes continued growth and professional development
- Provides a competitive edge
- Gains increased visibility and credibility
- Enhanced professional reputation
- Personal accomplishment
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography ARDMS® is the internationally recognized standard of excellence in sonography with over 90,000 active certificants in 25 countries. In recent years, it became clear to ARDMS® that the global ultrasound landscape is changing.
Technological innovations in ultrasound have made the use of sonography increasingly affordable, ultrasound devices more portable, and new applications for ultrasound are being utilized. ARDMS® realizes that the widespread adoption of Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) by non-traditional users makes ultrasound more acceptable and more popular. In an effort to ensure that all users of ultrasound, including POCUS users, are proficient and able to provide safe and appropriate care to patients, a dedicated volunteer Task Force of POCUS experts was convened in 2011 and charged with overseeing the development of a POCUS assessment program with global reach.
The Alliance for Physician Certification & Advancement (APCA) is part of the Inteleos family of Councils that also includes ARDMS. Spun out of ARDMS in 2016 to meet the exclusive needs of physicians, the APCA Council already represents over 20,000 physician certificants. APCA joins ARDMS in furthering its long-standing mission of raising the global standards of excellence in healthcare and patient safety through certification.
In January 2016, the APCA Council, led by physician volunteers, assumed oversight of the physician-specific certifications and examinations, as well as the POCUS Certification Academy. A volunteer POCUS Academy Task Force was responsible for the development of the POCUS Certification Academy. The Task Force created assessments that are shorter in length, with more focused content, than traditional ARDMS and APCA assessments, and that can be delivered in alternative, technology-based formats to accommodate test takers in many locations and in geographies with varying infrastructure and resources.
Today, the Task Force has become the POCUS Assessment Committee. This group of international, cross-specialty volunteer subject matter experts continues to provide direction for the POCUS Certification Academy and to oversee the multiple groups of volunteer practitioners contributing to assessment development, review and approval.
The Fundamentals Certificate fee is waived for physicians who hold ARDMS and APCA certifications. There are also group discounts available for organizations who wish to purchase multiple certificates and certifications. Find a complete pricing information for POCUS certification and certificates.
The fee must be submitted at the time of application. If you do not complete the required assessments within the designated time frames, your application will expire and all fees will be forfeited. Once your application expires, you will need to reapply. Requests for cancellations or refunds may be submitted until a candidate starts an assessment. Neither Full nor Partial Refunds will be issued for any certificate or certification for which an assessment has been started or for which the completion time has expired. All refunds will be processed in the same form as the original payment within 5 (five) business days.
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The POCUS Certification Academy suggests that, whenever possible, exams are completed using a wired network. Wired networks typically provide more reliable exam delivery performance than wireless networks. For Technical Specifications, please refer to the The POCUS Certification Academy Policies.
The Point-of-Care Ultrasound POCUS Certification Academy is designed to be convenient for busy healthcare practitioners. Your assessments can be taken immediately after your application and payment or at any time that works for you (within the designated time frame for your selected Certificate or Specialty Certification). For more information, see FAQ #3 What are the exams I have to take to earn a POCUS certificate or certification? Assessments may be completed from the location of your choosing, although privacy is important to avoid sharing assessment content. A quiet test taking environment with appropriate lighting and minimal distractions will improve the experience.
The assessments are all online and may be started and stopped at will. The assessment remembers the last question you answered and bookmarks that location. To return to an assessment, login to MY POCUS and access your Certificate Plan.
Before applying, you are expected to be prepared through the completion of training or educational programs concerning foundational and specific Point-of-Care Ultrasound.
Candidates should carefully read all information concerning the POCUS Certification Academy and its’ offerings prior to applying. It’s also a good idea to watch the tutorial video, read the exam information.
The scoring methodology for The POCUS Certification Academy assessments is determined by Inteleos Psychometric Services (IPS) in conjunction with the POCUS Academy Task Force and approved by the APCA Council.
In most cases, results to your online assessments will be provided immediately and, if successful, you’ll be able to print your certificate(s) from your Certification Plan. These timelines may be extended due to technical or other conditions.
If unsuccessful, you may reapply after a 30-day waiting period. Please see The POCUS Certification AcademyTM Policies for additional details.
Certificates will be provided electronically through the candidate’s POCUS Academy Certificate Plan and via email.
The POCUS Fundamentals Certificate remains valid as long as a Clinical Certificate or Specialty Certification is current. Clinical Certificates and Specialty Certifications are valid for 5 (five) years. Requirements for the renewal of Clinical Certificates and Specialty Certifications are still being determined but are expected to include a short assessment.
Up to 25% of the candidate applications for The POCUS Certification AcademyTM may be audited for identity verification, documentation of prerequisites and/or Peer Evaluator identification and verification. Specific documentation, depending upon the type of audit, will be expected within 30 (thirty) days of the audit notification. Please see the The POCUS Certification AcademyTM Policies for additional detail.
Candidates who have been awarded a certificate or certification and fail an audit will have their certificate or certification revoked. Candidates who are found to have submitted falsified or inaccurate information will also fail the audit and may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the APCA Compliance Policies.