BCPA Exam Eligibility Requirements Now Available

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.

Questions have been closed on this post.

However, you are still invited to ask your questions on our FAQs page.

Before asking, please be sure you have read:


  • Sharon McCormick

    Will any test prep materials be available?

  • I am very excited to read about these new developments. I am in the process of becoming a licensed professional fiduciary here in California– fiduciaries are now required to be licensed. must take a certificate program, apply to qualify for examination, includes background check, must apply to licensing body national certified guardians to take exam, when you pass the exam then you become licensed. $, $, $. but–!!! about $6K all told– a lot less than spending $85K for a masters degree in gerontology or other discipline. At 61, doing a masters does not make sense.

    . . I would consider making the background check mandatory. When you enter a clinical setting, healthcare providers just want to know you’ve been cleared– peace of mind, more opportunity.

    . . the Professional fiduciaries Assoc. o California application for membership is exhaustive– but it will certainly keep out the rif-raf, people who aren’t committed.

  • Nicole Ferrara

    I am currently 1 year into into the Patient Advocacy Certificate program at UCLA extension with another year until completion. I am not clinically trained, but have advocated for many family and friends. I have not officially started professionally. Will I be eligible to sit for the exam?

  • Like many, we applaud the efforts of the Board to bring us certification and standards that will help to elevate our industry.

    My question is about recertification: From those of us who until this time have never reported CEU’s, is it the intention of this body to help us to know resources for obtaining CEU’s, especially the mandatory ethics hours? While we do pursue continual training and have options to receive CEU’s, we must likely need to become a bit more pointed about that now.

    • PACBoard

      Nancy – thanks for the good words on the purpose of our PACB organization.

      Recertification – we have very little information available as yet; only that certified advocates will need to recertify every three years. The citing of ethics hours was to double down on everyone’s understanding of how important we think ethics are to our work.

      For now the PACB will continue our focus on bringing the first test to everyone. Development of the test is an immense job! We’ll work on recertification once we have more data, and some success stories to evaluate.

  • Lana Benton

    Can you elaborate on the reasons for elimination of background checks?

    • PACBoard

      Lana – There were many reasons why we chose to eliminate that requirement. Important to note, however, is that none of those reasons subtract from the importance of such a check. That’s why we state right within the requirements that we believe it is incumbent upon all advocates to undergo background checks and to make the results public (on their website, for example.)

      • PACB cannot administer criminal background checks ourselves.
      • A CBC is a dated document and may/may not provide current activities of an individual.
      • CBCs are frequently state-specific and this certification is available to a national audience.

      There are many companies that conduct these background checks which, again, could be state or region-specific only, therefore PACB would be unable to make fair recommendations of such a company.

      We reiterate, however, our recommendation that all patient advocates undergo whatever background check they think is important, then publish the results themselves. Background checking companies can be found all over the web via web searches and due diligence of such companies is highly recommended. In addition, an advocate can request recommendations of such companies from legal authorities.

      As with all aspects of this certification, in the future our decisions could change. But for now, no criminal background check will be required.

  • Angelica Vazquez

    Is there a date and time we can take test? if so please sent information, place and time.
    Thank you

    • PACBoard

      As of July 2017, no dates are yet set. We anticipate the first test will be available in early 2018.

      They will be announced here at this website so be sure you are signed up for notices.

  • Heather

    Can one apply for this certification if one is Canadian? If not, do you know of any such organization in Canada?

    • PACBoard

      Good question, Heather.

      Please note in the Eligibility Requirements, Criteria D: There are no citizenship or country of origin requirements to be eligible to sit for the exam.

      As far as we know, there are no efforts to certify advocates strictly in Canada.

      • Heather

        Thanks for getting back to me. I am very interested in becoming certified. Will this certification be nationwide or state wide?

        • PACBoard

          The certification will be international. Anyone in the US or Canada (or any other country) in any state or province who wishes to be certified is invited to apply, and to take the exam.

          • Lyn Thorpe

            “Testing itself will take place in one of the test centers located across the United States as determined by the Professional Testing Corporation. Testing will not take place online”.

            Unless you can afford the money and time to travel to one of these testing centres, you will be excluded from applying for certification. This will exclude many people especially start up practitioners and women and those from outside North America. I understand your main market will be the USA but there must be a way to allow the testing to take place elsewhere.

          • PACBoard

            Lyn – that isn’t necessarily true, so please don’t leap to conclusions about locations.

            We will rely on the PTC for locations, and here is how they address this question on their website, “Whether you are considering paper-based or computer-based test administration, PTC has an extensive network of testing centers at which your candidates may test in a professional and secure environment. Paper-based tests are administered at universities and colleges throughout the U.S. and internationally. In addition, PTC has access to more than 400 computerized testing facilities so your candidates have a more flexible and convenient test scheduling experience.” http://www.ptcny.com/ptc/test-administration.html

            The reason we will require test-takers to go to a location is to prevent someone from taking the test as an “open book” type exam. It’s our approach to controlling the test-taking environment, keeping it more objective and secure.

            Or look at another way: how confident would you be in someone’s answers if they took the test in the comfort of their own home, or in a larger workplace, with no assurance they didn’t use resources to answer, or ask someone else to answer help them with an answer?