PACB – 2020 In Review


2020 is almost over and there is little chance of overstating what a chaotic and unsettling year it has been. Countless individuals and families worldwide have endured tragic loss and hardships. While COVID has been top of the news cycle, wildfires, political and societal unrest, and the associated fallout made 2020 a year like no other.

But from adversity, also springs opportunity.


Certification Commission

Even with all the uncertainty 2020 brought us the Patient Advocate Certification Board of Directors continued its work toward advancing and enhancing the certification process for Board Certified Patient Advocates. Earlier this year, the Board voted to establish the Certification Commission as a semi-independent entity. While still under the governance of the board, formation of the commission allows for a more efficient workflow of the various committees and task forces required to manage and maintain a certification program. Heidi Kummer, MD, MPH, BCPA, who previously chaired the exam committee, will now serve as Chair of the Commission. Standing committees under the Commission include both Recertification and Appeals as well as a variety of ad hoc groups, which brings us to the next exciting announcement, the addition of eligibility criteria to sit for the BCPA Exam.


Eligibility Criteria

As you may recall from earlier communications, the board had stated from the inception of the credential that data from each exam cycle would be reviewed to look for correlations between education, experience, and success in passing the exam. While that sounded like a straight-forward statistical process, it turned out to be much more challenging…

Patient advocates come from an unbelievably diverse set of backgrounds. That alone, made the statistical analysis process difficult at best. But, over time, it became clear that individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree (or higher) tended to perform better on the exam. The area of study seemed to be less important than the overall exposure to advanced education. But education alone was not the only criteria that distinguished successful candidates. Experience in the field is also an important factor and will likewise be included in the eligibility requirements to sit for the BCPA exam. Individuals who do not meet the educational requirement will have the opportunity to demonstrate equivalent life/work experience. In conjunction with the new process, PACB has established an Appeals committee should any candidate believe their application was unfairly denied. We invite you to review the details regarding eligibility in the Candidate Handbook, which you can find on the PACB website. The updated Candidate Handbook includes many changes from previous editions, so we encourage everyone to have a look.



Along with the establishment of the Certification Commission and the introduction of eligibility requirements the Board has been working tirelessly to address how to continue to provide a safe and reliable certification exam during a worldwide pandemic. While the ‘testing’ industry was turned upside down with closure of brick and mortar test centers, the resulting vacuum also gave rise to newer and more efficient methods for delivery of high stakes exams. Live Remote Proctoring (LRP) combined with artificial intelligence (AI) gained acceptance and recognition as a viable, even preferable method for safe and reliable exam administration.

Prior to the shutdown in 2020, accrediting bodies (i.e., ICE, ANSI) had been studying LRP to determine how the technology could fit into their rigorous accreditation standards. With thousands of people in jeopardy of losing their certifications and/or licenses, accreditation bodies ‘temporarily lifted’ their ban and authorized organizations to utilize LRP.

While the brick and mortar testing companies worked hard to bring forward their own versions of LRP, many organizations discovered new opportunities with test vendors founded on a ‘remote-first’ business model. Following exhaustive research, one such company, Examity, quickly gained PACB’s attention. Since 2013, Examity has grown to support over 500 enterprise testing organizations, corporations and universities including:

  • Amazon
  • Tableau Software
  • Coursera
  • Duolingo
  • Kaplan
  • Indiana University
  • Penn State University
  • The College Board
  • And many more…

Their world-wide team of professionals handles more than 1 million assessments per year.



As PACB explored further, we also learned about Prolydian, a fully integrated partner with Examity. While Examity powers the examination process, Prolydian will be providing the platform upon which:

  • Candidates can apply to sit for the exam
  • BCPA’s can submit continuing education credits
  • BCPA’s can track continuing education
  • BCPA’s can complete the re-certification process

…the total package all in one place.

So, as we move into 2021, we look forward with great anticipation to our new partnership with Prolydian and Examity. We believe you will appreciate the simplicity associated with the platform, the safety and convenience afforded by LRP, and most importantly, their responsive 24/7 technical support team.


Job Task Analysis

Last, but certainly not least, rolled tightly inside this 2020 snowball, PACB also engaged in its first formal Job Task Analysis study. The JTA, also known as a Role and Function Study, will further help to define the specific tasks, knowledge, skills, and abilities required of an entry level patient advocate. To date, several panels of subject matter experts have contributed to the development of the survey which is set to be distributed in early January. The results of the survey will help to refine the blueprint of the BCPA exam and serve as curriculum outline for educational institutions and providers of continuing education. We are counting on broad participation of the patient advocacy community, so please watch for further announcements on the rollout, which will be coming soon.



While we are grateful and optimistic about the future of patient advocacy, rapid organizational growth comes at a price. With every step PACB moves forward, the complexity of the organizational structure and associated operations increases exponentially. As the days and years go by, we are humbled by the founding board members who had the vision to bring forth the inception of being a Board Certified Patient Advocate. We celebrate the fact that PACB founding volunteers identified patient advocacy as an emerging profession, collected relevant data, found partners to help build the exam and successfully launch PACB. We recognize we would not be where we are today without the hard work and dedication of all past and present board members-it is the hard work of those who came before us that helps to fuel our fire. We encourage you to visit our website for more information on past and present board members.

Growth is hard, but we all know the harder truth…

An organization that is not growing, is failing!


Yes, it was an eventful year, but we trust you will agree, there is much to show for it. On behalf of the PACB staff and leadership, we wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Melissa Cardine, MSN, RN, BCPA