Frequently Asked Questions
PACB = Patient Advocate Certification Board. This is the body which developed this credential. Learn more about the Board.
BCPA = Board Certified Patient Advocate. This is the credential name itself. Those who earn it will add BCPA to their name: “Joan Advocate, BCPA” or “James Advocate, BCPA”
Who is this certification being developed for?
The BCPA certification is a credential for professional patient/health advocates. The intent is to assure the general public that any BCPA advocate they work with has met at least the standards and competencies defined through this credential. The credential is further being developed for advocates to help them determine their own level of competency. Passing the exam will show they have developed at least the standards and competencies tested.
What if I am already an experienced Patient Advocate?
Any Advocate wishing to earn a BCPA credential will need to meet the eligibility requirements and pass the certification exam.
Is there a minimum education or experience requirement as a Patient Advocate to sit for the exam?
At this time (early 2020), there is no minimal education nor experience requirement to take the exam. However, the PACB is continuing to monitor exam results and reserves the right to impose requirements at a later date.
Do I need any other license or certification in order to sit for the exam?
At this time (early 2020), there is no existing certification or license required to be eligible to sit for the exam. However, the PACB is continuing to monitor exam results and reserves the right to impose requirements at a later date.
Do I need to undergo a criminal background check to be certified?
The PACB strongly recommends you undergo a criminal background check and post your results publicly so potential clients can be assured of your trustworthiness. However, no such background check will be required for certification.
How can I know if I am eligible to take the BCPA exam?
Review the Eligibility Requirements to see if you meet our criteria.
Taking the Exam
Who should take the exam?
Anyone with an interest in proving their ability to serve patients at the level of competence required to pass the exam should take it. You may be an independent, private advocate, or a hospital advocate who goes above and beyond, or working for an employer to serve fellow employees in an advocacy capacity. Once you have earned this certification, you will have proven you know what you’re doing and that you can serve patients well. (Those who have not passed the exam will not have this measure of competency.)
When is the exam offered and how much does it cost?
Two exam sessions are available each year. One in the spring and another in the fall. All exam details may be found here.
What should I study to take the exam?
The exam questions are based on the documents published by the PACB including the Ethical Standards, Competencies and Best Practices, and Key Terms compiled into a Study Guide.
Can you explain the exam process?
The exam is administered by the Professional Testing Corporation, a company with decades of experience in handling professional exam programs. Each exam cycle is preceded by an application period during which candidates register and pay applicable fees. Once the application period closes, PTC issues a notice enabling candidates to schedule their exam location, date and time. Exam centers have limited seating and all scheduling is on a first come first served basis. Those passing the exam will be awarded the BCPA credential, and will be listed publicly on the website so patients can confirm the credential.
How long will it take to get my test results?
The exam cycle is 4 weeks in length. Exam results are issued by email approximately 4 weeks after the close of the exam cycle. Those who take the exam at the beginning of the cycle will wait longer than those who take it at the end.
Can I retake the test if I fail the first time?
The test may be retaken up to 3 times. If a candidate fails a third time, he/she must wait at least one full year before taking the test again.