It is with great pleasure that the Patient Advocate Certification Board announces publication of its Final BCPA Exam Eligibility Requirements.

(BCPA = Board Certified Patient Advocate)

The process used to complete these requirements has been painstaking and diligent. The basics were developed by the Eligibility Task Force. Then important contributions were made by many of you during the public comment period held earlier this year.

Here we share the process, and call out some of its important points.

Eligibility = Eligibility to Sit for the Exam

As we began the development process for these requirements in Spring 2016, we came to one decision immediately. That is, that eligibility requirements would address eligibility to sit for the exam to be certified, not the overall ability to be certified itself. In other words: no current advocates will be grandfathered into certification. All candidates for certification will be required to pass the exam. So “being eligible” means one has met the requirements to sit for the exam.

The exam being developed will be a rigorous test of the competencies, ethics, standards, and definitions previously published.

Passing the exam will trigger certification, the award of “BCPA” as a credential.

Credentials and Success

Next, we began looking at the concept of “eligibility to sit for the exam” by looking at the credentials of people who are already succeeding in their work with patients. We asked, what attributes do they have that contributed to their ability to help the patients they work with, and have made them successful?

The results: among those patient advocates we know to be successfully providing the vast array of skills and services offered as advocacy, there was no one set of criteria that was met by more than a few, e.g., there was no minimum level of education, nor specific degree, nor set of completed courses, nor years of experience, nor already-earned certification or license, that was common among more than a handful.

Therefore, it was impossible to assign a minimum standard for either education or experience.

“Outside” Input

During this process, we reviewed eligibility requirements for several other, parallel, professional organizations to be sure we didn’t miss any attributes that might be important for those wanting to be certified as patient advocates.

In late 2016, we committed to working with the testing company that will help us administer the BCPA exam, Professional Testing Corporation. Their guidance helped us overcome a few of the sticking points we encountered, mostly assuring us that we were on the right track by allowing the exam results to stand by themselves as gatekeepers to certification.

Your Input: Public Comment Results

In January of this year, we made our first draft of BCPA Exam Eligibility Requirements available for 30 days of public comment. We reviewed and considered every comment, suggestion, complaint, and idea we received from the 58 people who took their valuable time to provide feedback, and implemented some of their feedback.

The Final Eligibility Requirements

The BCPA Exam Eligibility Requirements published today reflect some important changes since the original draft was published in January.

  • Removal of education or experience requirements.
    For the first four (4) testing cycles, there will be no minimum education required.
    During the exam application process, we will collect education and experience data from applicants. The data from the first four exams will be analyzed to see what correlation does exist among education, experience, and passing the exam. If indicated, education and experience requirements may change in the future.

Please note, however, that advocates with education and experience should have a distinct advantage and enhanced ability to pass the exam since they employ many of the competencies and ethical standards being tested in their work.

  • Removal of the requirement for a criminal background check.
    However, the PACB highly recommends that all professional advocates undergo such a background check and make the results public themselves as a method for garnering trust among potential patient-clients.

For further review, we have posted a list of Frequently Asked Questions. You may have additional questions once you have reviewed the BCPA Exam Eligibility Requirements. We invite you to post them there.

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