Guest Post by Anne Llewellyn, PACB Board Treasurer

Congratulations on achieving your Board Certification in Patient Advocacy! Now that you are a BCPA, you will want to maintain it and plan for re-certification. Your certification is valid for three years. You can find the expiration date on your certificate. This is an important date to keep in mind so you do not allow your certification to lapse. You will receive renewal information as your date draws near so make sure you keep your email address and mailing address up to date so we can contact you. If you need to update your information contact us directly at help@pacboard.org.

Three years may seem far away, but it will be here before you know it. Here are some tips to help you stay organized.

First, keep up to date on the practice of Patient Advocacy. Read over the Best Practices and Competencies and the Ethics Standards from time to time. These documents are the foundation of the practice and should help you stay focused throughout your career. 

As your re-certification period comes around, you will have two renewal options to consider. First, is to retake the certification examination. Many may think this is a strange recommendation. Surprisingly, however, some BCPAs may want to re-certify through this option. Healthcare is changing at a rapid pace. As a result, the profession of patient advocacy will also change. Retaking and passing the certification exam is one way to validate that you are keeping up to date with the industry.

The other renewal option is though continuing education credits. You can obtain continuing education credits by going to conferences, attending webinars or through formal post secondary education. Board Certified Patient Advocates are required to have 30 contact hours. Six of those 30 contact hours are to be in the area of Ethics. To learn about this option, review the Board Certified Patient Advocate Renewal Handbook. This handbook outlines the process for submitting CEs. 

Patient Advocates should look for courses/conferences that are consistent with the Best Practices and Competencies as well as the Ethics Statement. All continuing education programs need to be approved by The Patient Advocate Certification Board Education Committee. The BCPA Renewal Handbook describes that process. 

Organizations that hold national and regional conferences traditionally offer pre-approved continuing education credits for attendees. As the BCPA credential is relatively new, many organizations don’t know about it yet. So when you see a program you may wish to attend, ask the conference organizers to connect with PACB and have the program reviewed to see if BCPA Continuing Education units may be applicable. The benefit in taking this extra step means you may be eligible for free pre-approved CEs.

If you go to an event that does not offer pre-approved continuing education credits, you can still submit session content to the Patient Advocate Certification Board Education Committee to review. Again they will review the program and document the number of credits for each activity. You can read about this information on page 7 of the Renewal Handbook.  Note, there is a minimal fee of $15.00 per course to review materials submitted for post approval.

Looking forward, the Patient Advocate Certification Board is in the process of setting up a self-service portal on the website that will allow for easy management of your continuing education credits. We will keep you posted when the system is in place, but in the meantime, set up a filing system so you can save information on the conferences, webinars or other educational events you attend.

If you are part of a planning committee for a conference, consider becoming a pre-approved provider for patient advocate continuing education credits. On page 10 of the Continuing Education Handbook organizations and educational institutions can find information on the costs and process.  The Patient Advocate Certification Board will post organizations offering pre-approved continuing education credits for Board Certified Patient Advocates on the website, so check back often to learn where and when educational activities will be held.

Similarly, if you are a student and enrolled in a patient/health advocacy program, your courses can also be used to renew your certification. See page 8 of the Continuing Education Handbook for information on how to submit for review.

If you have questions on the information presented, feel free to email the Patient Advocate Certification Board at help@pacboard.org.

Best of luck in your career. Bookmark the Patient Advocate Certification Board Website so you can check in frequently for updates and ways you can be involved in keeping your certification strong.

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