Frequently Asked Questions

As credentialing and certification is a new and complex issue to the practice of patient advocacy, we know you will have questions and comments. We encourage you to share any comments or ask your questions through the comment box (below.) We will do our best to answer them. Please note: In order to receive an answer to your question, you must include your first and last name and an email address.

Your email address will not be published.

Also, please be sure to subscribe to email updates (at right or below) in order to be kept apprised of changes or additions.

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”


(updated November 2018)



Q: Who is this certification being developed for?
A: The BCPA certification is a national/international standard being developed for patients and caregivers. 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.



Q: Will there be an opportunity to be ‘grandfathered’ for certification?
A: Any Advocate wishing to earn a BCPA credential will need to meet the eligibility requirements and pass the certification exam.

Q: Is there a minimum educational requirement as a Patient Advocate to sit for the exam?
A: At this time (late 2018), there is no minimal educational requirement to take the exam. However, the PACB does reserve the right to impose requirements at a later date.

Q: Is there a minimum experience requirement as a Patient Advocate to sit for the exam?

A: At this time (late 2018), there is no minimal experience requirement to take the exam. However, the PACB does reserve the right to impose requirements at a later date.

Q: Do I need to undergo a criminal background check to be certified?

A: 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.

Q: How can I know if I am eligible to take the BCPA exam?

A: Review the Eligibility Requirements to see if you meet our criteria.


Taking the Exam:

Q: Who should take the exam?
A: 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.)

Q: How soon will the exam be offered and how much will it cost?

A: Two exam sessions are available each year. One in the spring and another in the fall. All exam details may be found here.

Q: What should I study to take the exam?

A: The exam questions are based on the documents published by the PACB including the Ethical Standards, Competencies and Best Practices, and the Definitions. Find exam preparation materials on the exam details page.

Q: What will the exam process be?

A: The exam will be administered by the Professional Testing Corporation, a company with decades of experience in handling professional exam programs. There will be an application period, an eligibility determination made, candidates will take the exam, and the results will be issued. Those passing the exam will be awarded the BCPA credential, and will be listed publicly on the Board website so patients can confirm the credential.

Q: How long will it take to get my test results?

A: This depends on when you take the exam. Find more details with this post.



Public Comment and Participation:

Q: How can I participate in the development of this credential?

A: Since establishing the PACB in 2012, we have invited individual input in several ways, including participation on Task Forces and requests for public comment for each of the documents developed and published during the process. As necessary, the Board will continue to reach out for assistance. Be sure you have signed up for updates (at right, or below)



(as submitted by site visitors)


  • Kristina Danette Carter

    I am a Pharmacist who recently passed the 2019 Board Examination, and super excited to begin contributing to the PACB organization. How do I sign up to participate?

    • Danielle Marshall

      Hi Kristina

      First congratulations! We are so excited to hear your good news and welcome you. You will begin to receive news from PACB created specifically for our Board Certified Patient Advocates. Those emails will come from

      Be sure to whitelist that email so you won’t miss anything. Periodically, the board puts out a call for volunteers to serve on committees and task forces. When that happens, be sure to submit an application. We are a small, but rapidly growing organization and can definitely use enthusiastic volunteers. We look forward to seeing your name on the list of active volunteers in the near future.

  • Alexis Meza

    After successfully passing the credentialing process, does one become a mandated reporter? I didn’t see anything about this in the documentation. Or is it something that is too new/being established as the process evolves?

    • Danielle Marshall

      Alexis, I will need to investigate further before I offer a response. More soon.

      • Danielle Marshall


        Since the BCPA is a certification, it is not held to the same scrutiny as a license. However, my resources suggest you should check your state law as that’s where the differences lie.

  • Miguel Arenas

    I was board-certified in March 2018 and I’m getting a bit concerned about meeting the CE requirements to maintain the BCPA certification. Is the Beryl Institute part of your CE providers? I hope to attend their annual conference in April and could use their CE credits.

    • Danielle Marshall

      Hi Miguel. The Beryl Institute has not submitted anything for pre-approved CEs, but it is quite likely their Institute content will qualify. I will ask the Continuing Education Committee to review the content of the program and report back to you.

  • Chrystelle Goodwyne

    I can’t locate where/ how to study for the exam. I would love to sign up to take the exam but can you share with me a company or group that can provide classes to enable to take the exam? I live in Tallahassee, Florida.

    • Danielle Marshall

      Hi Chrystelle. PACB is the certifying body for the Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA) credential. As such, we do not offer educational programming. However, I do know that Trisha Torrey who is a past board member of PACB and also runs the Alliance for Professional Health Advocates compiled a great list of educational resources. You can find it at

      I hope this helps. We look forward to adding your name to our list of Board Certified Patient Advocates very soon!

      Best of luck to you!

  • Marian Rouse

    Section 1.j. of the ‘Competencies and Best Practices required for a BCPA’ document indicates that advocates will ‘Provide a written service agreement to each guarantor and client, both paid and pro bono, that clearly sets forth the nature and scope of services, fee schedule, terms, etc”

    Section B.2 – paragraph 3 – of the ‘Ethics Standards for a BCPA’ states ‘Advocates providing fee-for-service assistance are obligated to present their clients and guarantors with service agreement that clearly define their scope of practice, fee schedule, and terms.”

    For clarification — is the written service agreement for both fee-for-service and pro-bono engagements or just fee-for-service as stated in the Ethics document?

    Thank you.

    • Danielle Marshall

      Hi Marian. I apologize for the delay in responding. It is always appropriate and in everyone’s best interest to provide a written agreement that outlines services (whether paid or pro bono). Thank you for bringing this potentially confusing notation to our attention. We definitely want to ensure all published documents are both clear and consistent in language. If this did not sufficiently answer your question, you may reply to this post, or email me directly at

  • Becky Havard

    I have 2 questions.
    1. when will the list be updated? I’m anxious to see my name added to the BCPA’s list.
    2. I clicked the tab for certified BCPA’s just to see and it gives a place to enter a PW. What is this tab for and how would one acquire a PW?

    • Danielle Marshall

      New fall candidates will be added to the website within the next week. Watch your email for news and information about accessing the password protected areas of the website.

    • Eileen

      Are there any practice questions I could look at?

      • Danielle Marshall

        Hi Eileen

        There are a few questions listed on mostly to serve as examples of how the questions are presented. The Education Committee is currently reviewing ways in which they might be able to bolster study materials, but I don’t have any further information from them as to when that might be available.

  • When will the fall 2018 certificants be listed on this website?

    • Danielle Marshall

      New fall candidates will be added to the website within the next week. Watch your email for news and information.

  • Alicia Muzzin

    Hello and thank you for shining light on the importance of patient advocates. Unfortunately, I just missed the September exam cut-off and was wondering if you have set dates for 2019 exams? I assumed that one would be administered in Spring 2019 but was hoping to confirm. If so, when will you open registration for the exam? Thank you 🙂

    • Danielle Marshall

      Alicia, the exam is given twice a year. Once in March and again in the fall. The March exam is currently open for registration. The registration period will close in mid February. You can find the handbook and details at

  • Donna

    I am an unemployed pharmacist and a senior personal trainer. I am looking for a new opportunity and being a patient advocate matches my skills. Most web sites in which I have read, promote nurses to be patient advocates. My education as a retail pharmacist, and my life skills as a daughter, wife and mother have made me more then qualified to be a patient advocate.
    My goal is to take the exam in the spring. I have joined the Alliance to Health Care Advocates. I am going to move forward with marketing myself and add the certification once it is available.
    I look forward to obtaining clients and making a difference in people’s lives.

    • Danielle Marshall

      Donna, best of luck on your journey. We hope to see you listed on the PACBoard site as one who has earned the BCPA.

    • Kara

      Hi, Donna
      Our profiles are very similar as I too am working to transition from a pharmacist to patient advocacy. Since you wrote this in Oct, I wondered if there were any specific materials you were using to prepare for the exam. Good luck, Thanks

  • Chrissy

    I took the exam in the Spring and did not pass. However, I will be retaking the exam next week and WILL PASS :).

    Were any changes made to the exam questions or are all questions 100% the same?

    In other words, is it 100% the same exam from Spring 2018 testing period?

    • Danielle Marshall

      As does any credentialing organization, the PACB reserves the right to modify the exam questions as needed.

      The questions will always be focused on the material in the PACB documents:
      -Ethical Standards
      -Competencies and best practices

      You can learn more about this at this website:

  • Ann L Schamp

    I am scheduled to take the exam on 9/25 (so excited) and I have been researching Liability insurance. Some agencies have referred me back to the credentialing organization. Does PACB have any requirements or suggestions to basic or professional liability insurance?

    Thank you for all you are doing to promote and educate others as to this field within Healthcare. Kudo’s to all of you.

    • Danielle Marshall

      As a certifying body, PACB has not published anything regarding liability insurance for individual practitioners. However, I believe the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, which is a membership organization, does offer resources in this area. You can learn more at theri website

  • becky havard

    I will be sitting for the exam this week!! Super excited and anxious. I’m curious when/if I pass will I be awarded a “frame worthy” certificate or diploma of some sort?

  • Joan Motley

    Hello, I am registered to take the exam within the coming week and plan on passing it with flying colors! My question involves mentors. As my intention is to develop my own advocacy agency, I am curious to understand where I find a listing of mentors, determining who is in my area and other related questions to put my goals into action in better serving the community. Please advice and many thanks!

    • Danielle Marshall

      Hi Joan

      I contacted PACB board secretary, Trisha Torrey who reminded me of the following resource (see link below). I don’t know anything specific about any of these individuals, but you could probably reach out to them to learn more. You might also check out APHAdvocates, a membership site for independent patient advocates. I listed the link to APHA below as well. As I’m sure you know, patient advocacy is a new and rapidly growing profession…so resources are still fairly limited. You might also be interested to know that the PACB board is working diligently with the first cohort of certified patient advocates to help us continue to grow and support those who have earned the BCPA. Once you have taken the exam and join that group, I hope you will respond to the next call for volunteers so we can gain insight from your knowledge, skills and experiences.

      Best of luck to you!

  • Are there Exam centers in Africa Region?

    • Danielle Marshall


      The exam is administered through PSI, a third party testing organization. I glanced at the locations and I do not see anything listed in Africa. However, I will contact them directly and find out where the closest examination sites would be for you.

    • Danielle Marshall

      Joshua, it looks like you may be in Uganda. We do not believe there are testing centers in that country. Are there nearby countries that you might be able to travel to? If so, I can check availability in those locations.

  • Emma

    What is the passing rate for the exam?

    • Danielle Marshall

      Please refer to the exam handbook for a more thorough explanation, however, in short, PACB will be collecting data for at least the first 4 exam cycles to determine what (if any) education, experience, complementary license or certification requirements need to be incorporated. While the organization is collecting this data, any statistical reporting would be premature and therefore will not be published.

  • Miguel Arenas

    Yesterday I served as a witness for the defendant (my employer), in a trial dealing with alleged discrimination. When the time came to share my professional experience and credentials, I proudly stated that I was a Board-Certified Patient Advocate with more than 10 years of experience in the field of patient advocacy. The jurors took note. I felt that both my education and experience in this field were validated by having this credential. Not to mention the fact that in the field of healthcare, credentials are essential and highly regarded. So for those who are not sure whether to pursue this certification, I would encourage you to do it; it will be worth all the effort and you’ll be glad to add this achievement to your list of professional accomplishments. (The jury ruled in our favor).

    • Connie Sunderhaus

      Your commitment as a professional individual is exemplary! You have provided all patient advocates inspiration to become certified and validates those who have earned the BPCA credential.

      Thank you for sharing this story!

      Connie Sunderhaus RN-BC, CCM
      President, PACB

  • Ann L Schamp

    Your website states the fall exam will be administered between sept 15th and sept 29th. Yet the dates for where I need to take it (Tampa) are before Sept 15th.

    Can I register for the Sept 4th,5th or 6th dates and be ok? I just wanted to make sure.
    Thank you!

    • Danielle Marshall


      You need to select the date range on the PSI site that includes September 15-29th. That should then allow you to see the dates and locations that are available in your area during the test cycle for the BCPA. If you still have trouble, contact Sherry Frier with PTC. Her phone is 212-356-0661, and her email is

  • Barbara O'Halloran Smith

    I have filled out the registration form to sit for the BCPA exam in September 2018. However, my name is listed incorrectly on the email I received from the testing center. How can I update and correct my name so I can go online and register for a test date. Thank you.

    • Danielle Marshall


      You need to contact Sherry Frier with PTC, who will be able to assist you with your issue. PACB does not have access to the registration records, only Professional Testing Corporation can assist. Sherry’s phone is 212-356-0661, and her email is PTC handles issues like this all the time, so no need to worry. Just give them a call or send an email.

  • Karen Hardie

    I am a Canadian who has provided advocacy services for over 30 years in the auto insurance industry. The legislation has recently changed leaving the entire industry upside down and many of us searching for alternatives to this. I am very interested in writing the exam however have the following questions:

    1) The study guide lists a number of websites. I have looked into each one, some have a one or two page write up that can easily be studied. Others are a complete website which when searching the topic listed under the website address in the study materials guide do not come up. Therefore it looks like one would have to study the entire website which I know cannot be. Are these websites a must to pass the exam.

    2) I’m not one to assume:. It is indicated in many areas PACB Exam Handbook, yet the handbook I find on the site is BCPA Handbook. I’m sure this is the same but do want to confirm that I’m not studying the wrong thing.

    3) In competencies of best practices on page two under Domains of Patient Advocacy it lists 6th. I’m sure the 7th should be Ethical, Legal and Practice standards. I am able to find the article on Ethical Standards but nothing specifically under legal and practice standards. Are they just within the article entitled Ethical Standards?

    and lastly

    4) Being a Canadian I am a bit concerned at how much content might be on the exam regarding the US health care system. I must admit I am not well versed on this so it worries me.

    Thank you.

    • Danielle Marshall

      If you happen to be a member of APHA ( a great resource is their Discussion Forum (they specifically have a “Canadian Corner” – where you can ask other Canadians who took the exam what worked for them). The exam is considered an international exam, and I know we have individuals from Canada who have earned the BCPA credential. There are questions about the healthcare system in the US, so you would need to know some of the Medicare Basics and the applicable terminology used (premium, co-pay, co-insurance – most of which I believe are in the glossary.)

      The ethics and competency documents were developed at different times. The PACBoard also kept the Ethics doc separate because it is often referenced on its own.

      I can tell you the acronym PACB simply refers to the name of the organization (the Patient Advocate Certification Board), the BCPA refers to the credential itself, the Board Certified Patient Advocate. There is only one credential, so the handbook for the exam is the only handbook for individuals who are looking to sit for the exam.

      Hope this helps!

      • Thank you I did post this on the Canadian Form however I have not had any responses as of yet. If there are any fellow Canadian’s that read this here, I would greatly appreciate your feedback. Thank you Karen

      • Tammy Garcia

        I just sent in this same question (in different words). I don’t see this particular question addressed within the reply from Danielle Marshall.

        1) The study guide lists a number of websites. I have looked into each one, some have a one or two page write up that can easily be studied. Others are a complete website which when searching the topic listed under the website address in the study materials guide do not come up. Therefore it looks like one would have to study the entire website which I know cannot be. Are these websites a must to pass the exam.

        I am ready to register for the exam but would like to have an answer to the question above before so that I understand the level of studying needed (entire website vs specific sections) before I commit.

        Thank you ever so much!
        Tammy G.

        • Danielle Marshall


          The books and websites are meant to offer supplemental information for areas in which an individual might need additional help. Carefully review page 12 of the exam handbook which outlines the sections of the exam. After reviewing the materials provided by PACB, think critically about any areas in which you feel unprepared. The books and websites are resources patient advocates should be familiar with, but would not be considered the primary study materials. You might also use the glossary (provided) to help you narrow your focus on items that require additional study resources.

  • Melissa McDougal

    Can you tell me what CEU’s will be necessary for recertification? I understand re-certification is necessary every 3 years, and that there are 30 CEU’s needed for recert with 6 specified to Ethics. Are these CEU’s that are only available through PACB? In other words, I’m an RN, CCM, and my RN CEU’s are not eligible for my CCM re-certification unless those CEU’s have been approved by the CCMC board. How does one obtain the correct type of CEU’s needed for recertification?

    • Danielle Marshall


      Your question is both relevant and timely as the board has just approved a handbook for renewal of the BCPA certification. We are in the process of building web pages to host that information which will be published very soon. As with Nursing and CCM, BCPA CE’s will also need to be approved by PACB. The handbook outlines the process for individuals who have earned the credential as well as for providers of continuing education who wish to have their programs pre-approved for BCPA continuing education credits. There are also plans to publish a directory of pre-approved providers. Individuals will have the opportunity to obtain continuing education from pre-approved programs, and submit programs for post-approval. College and university courses will also be considered. All the details are in the handbook, which I believe you will find very thorough. Watch for it in the next few days.

      • Darcie Green

        Hi, I passed the exam in March of 2018 and am looking to get a started on the 30 hours of continued education needed to renew my certification.
        Have you all complied and published a directory of pre-approved providers as mentioned in this comment thread?
        If so, where can I find it? If not, are there sites I can visit to help me find approved courses or events?
        Thank you

        • Danielle Marshall

          Hi Darcie. PACB’s Continuing Education Committee is currently working to build out the list you are inquiring about. To date, most of the pre-approved CEs have been related to conferences and/or webinars that are tied to specific dates. There is a NAHAC webinar coming up in February that has been pre-approved for BCPA CEs. It is not currently showing on their website, but should be soon. We will also be listing it in the next PACB newsletter, so watch your email for that in the next few days. As the organization seeks to build relationships with CE providers, I encourage you to think about CE programs you might be interested in attending and ask them to consider offering BCPA CEs. It’s also helpful for the CE committee to hear from those of you who have earned the credential as to programs and/or providers you would like for PACB to consider contacting on your behalf. Finally, even if a program does not offer pre-approved CEs, you can always submit it for post approval. As long as it meets the criteria outlined in the CE manual, there shouldn’t be any difficulty getting it approved.

  • Shannon McFarlin

    Are these certifications only offered to advocates who work Directly for patients, their families and caregivers, and not to those who work for hospitals or insurers? Can you not advocate within the confines of a patient’s medical benefit or network of providers? So a customer service representative for a insurer for example, could not be a certified patient advocate?

    • Danielle Marshall


      I copied the following paragraph from the FAQ section on this page:

      Who should take the exam?

      A: 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.

      More specifically, anyone who is in the role of advocating for patients is eligible to take the exam. As with certifications in general, the BCPA includes both competencies and ethical standards which requires the advocate to always place the interests of the patient first. Patient advocates who work in provider or payer settings should carefully examine whether the employer/employee relationship allows for advocacy at that level.

      I have included some resource links below that might help you further.

      Ethical Standards
      Competencies and Best Practices

      I hope this helps.

  • Registered Nurse
    I just read “How an independent patient can use an Advocate,”. what I read is extremely concerning.
    An Advocate can stand at the patients bedside. I don’t know of a single RN that
    would breach her patients confidentiality to allow that.
    The Advocate can help you understand your medications to be sure there are no
    contraindications. or precipitating event. An Advocate is not licensed by the state
    and has four years of college.
    An Advocate is someone that wants to assist you but only has a Certificate, with
    questions created by a group that developed the Certificate.
    As I can tell they answer to no one. Get answers to your question in their own way.
    They don’t have a Pharmacist or designated Physician to assist them with legal
    What this Certificate allows non licensed people to do is scary.

    • PACBoard


      It appears you are judging this profession without taking a good look at what it is.

      Patient Advocates come to their work with a strong ethical foundation and very specific standards of practice. They are not medical and do not perform any sort of medical function. Instead they are coordinators, bringing in the experts who do have medical knowledge and can advise, diagnose, and treat as needed.

      But they are also much more than that. They are the people who can get physicians to talk to each other, or find the right person to review and negotiate a medical bill. They help patients make their own decisions instead of relying on a medical provider to dictate what those decisions should be. They are the neutral party who can get an insurance claim approved, or ask why their client-patient is being subjected to a 2nd or 3rd X-ray within days of each other.

      They are hand-holders, empathy-givers, translators, errand-runners, care-coordinators, time managers, money-savers; in short, they remove as many of the healthcare system hurdles as possible while making sure the medical professionals get the information and cooperation they need for their patients to find improved outcomes. They do all of that by bringing in the right people to help.

      What they never do is to operate in a vacuum, which is what your comment suggests.

      We invite you to spend some time with our ethics and standards to better understand the profession and the reasons patients and families are so well served by calling on patient advocates to help them.

      • Margaret Pelton

        Thank you PACBoard for your excellent explanation as to what we do. I worked in a hospital setting in the ED and believe me, I had to “earn” my stripes as to what I felt was 1. my responsibilities to not only the patients but their families who came to our hospital, 2. Educating the clinical staff that I was not patient relations. I was an advocate who was in a non-clinical role that might not have an expertise in one area but the knowledge and how to maneuver in the healthcare environment along with compassion to not only help the patient and/or families but to take the pressure off the clinical staff too. When after 5 years my position was eliminated, I was told constantly “we” need you back. Even the social workers appreciated my knowledge and ability to elevate some of the mundane things. We are not nor would we ever try to be a clinician, BUT we can and will be a non-clinical part of the support to care for people. We are not a threat, we just have the innate calling to provide support, to speak for those who can not speak for themselves and to work for the common good of the patient. We are advocates who come from various different backgrounds and bring our expertise to every encounter, every situation, to every person we interact with to have the best outcome humanly possible.

  • Anne Maria Leistikow

    Questions on the test: If I study all the pdf’s on your website, will I be able to pass the test?
    Do I need to find additional study subjects on my own?

    1. Scope of Practice and Transparency
    2. Empowerment, Autonomy, Rights, and Equity
    3. Communication and Interpersonal Relationships
    4. Healthcare Access, Finance, and Management
    5. Medical Knowledge and the Healthcare System
    6. Professionalism, Professional Development, and Practice

    • PACBoard

      The study materials listed represent the content on which the exam is based and are provided as a resource for exam candidates. Passing the exam requires a thorough understanding of each domain represented which typically is the result of both study as well as practical experience in patient advocacy. As certification testing is a comprehensive assessment of skills and knowledge, PACB recommends candidates become thoroughly acquainted with study materials prior to registering for the exam.

      The list you have provided are only the Domains of Practice and represent only one of the documents you’ll need to study. You can find the entire list of materials to study on the Exam page of this website.

    • Trina Smith

      Hi Anne Maria, I read your post and hoped that I would encourage you by sharing my experience. Ok, first I’ll tell you that I was able to pass the test by studying the PACB’s listed materials recommendations:

      *Ethical Standards for a BCPA
      *Competencies and Best Practices required for a BCPA (THAT is the outline [1-6] YOU listed)
      *Definitions (there is a list that the board had provided)

      Study these thoroughly! These three categories are the main construct, Find practice questions so that you can get an idea of how the info you studied is comprehensively put into questions that require UNDERSTANDING of conceptual application. Those are the basics to master! Good Luck! Best Wishes! I hope this helped out some 🙂

  • Amy Gamso

    When will me be receiving our certificates and the email? I have received my results but no follow-up. Thank you

    • PACBoard

      Hi Amy. We’ve been told by the testing company that the certificates will go into the mail within four weeks of the issuance of the results – so in this case, by the end of May.

  • Hi. Since patient advocacy is not a regulated profession by our government and we cannot be paid through insurance plans for our services (which I like because I do not want to be restricted by rules when I am helping patients), is there a real need for this certification? While I applaud your efforts in making us recognized, yet not regulated, who is to say what our standards should be? I am a private and independent advocate because my passion is for patients and caregivers to get the help they need in the system, I do not want to be held to rules of this governing body when I am working…that is why I left corporate America. One of your board members, Trisha Torrey, wrote an article about this, saying that there are no programs you need to take because advocacy is not regulated. Now I see is updated to support this program. Basically, you are charging a nice amount for something that we can say we do now for free. How will we know before we invest that this is something we should do?

    • PACBoard

      Tiffany – regarding whether you “need” this certification….

      The value of professional credentialing is to protect the public by establishing a vehicle that affirms understanding and application of professional standards across practice settings. Establishing a valid measurement tool via the national credentialing exam is a significant achievement toward this objective. The PACB will continue its work to further professionalize this practice space as strategic development is finalized, publicized, and advanced.

      All that to say: You may choose to be certified or not. That is entirely up to you. But you may want to make that decision by looking through the eyes of the patients you may want to help one day who don’t already know your capabilities and reputation. Certification will help you command the respect you deserve.

      • Trina Smith, BCPA

        Thank you so much to every single board member for making this certification happen. My backround is in nursing, and I too have my own story as a patient who suffered needlessly while feeling as if I had no voice in my own life and well-being. My journey, like many, involved blood, sweat, tears and a desire to live–not just exist. And my goal became to become a voice for others so they did not have to go through the same daunting gauntlet alone feeling helpless. . How much more- if a registered nurse cannot get adequate care- is the person who does not have medical expertise concerning their own diagnoses, at risk for the same, if not worse, harm to be done to THEM?! And believe me, I did not flaunt my knowledge because I was never even asked what I did! That alone made me suspicious.
        I feel extremely grateful to be in the beginnings of a developing and beneficent profession. And I thank God for you all sharing your experience, strength, and hope in such a way as to empower me to help others in their time of need.

        • Desiree M. E. Phillips

          I am really interested in becoming Board Certified, I am an LPN that has practiced nursing for 14 years. I was born with a congenital defect that I am just now getting answers to, and I truly feel that this is the direction I should follow as far as finding my purpose. I found out about PAC through a patient of mine that also sits on the Board of Directors. I really want to make this my next career goal as floor nursing has become a dilemma to my health. I would like to speak with someone that is currently advocating . Is that possible?

          • PACBoard

            Desiree, it certainly sounds like you have good preparation to be an advocate. While we, the PACBoard, do not have a way to connect you to others who are working in this field at this time, we can suggest that you find someone by searching for someone who would do the work you think you would like to do. Here is one resource:

  • Misty Lee

    Will there be a searchable database to verify or find a local BCPA?

    • PACBoard

      Yes, there will be a place at this website where people can confirm the names of those who have achieved certification. We don’t have a due date for it yet, but anticipate that will happen within the next few months.

  • Miguel Arenas

    Yesterday I received notice that I passed the examination for BCPA. And of course, I am thrilled about this achievement. Good luck to all my colleagues who took the test and are waiting to learn the results.

  • Lisa Seaton

    Are you recognized by ANCC? As of yet I don’t believe the CPXP but from what I have heard they are close. A hospital wanting to achieve Magnet status may not recognized the BCOA as an actual certification. Are any of those rumors correct??

    • PACBoard

      The Patient Advocate Certification Board will contact various accreditation bodies to inform them that the Board Certified Patient Advocate Credential is available for professionals working in the area of patient advocacy.

      As you know, we are very new as the first certification examination was completed on March 31st. Now that we have passed this milestone, the Board will be discussing this sort of outreach.

      As we make these connections, we will keep you informed through this website.

  • Arla

    Could an individual who is employed by a hospital as a Patient Representative, provide services such as health care navigation, etc. as part of their employee responsibilities and at the same time refer to themselves as a Board Certified Patient Advocate. Or would this be considered a conflict of interest?

    • PACBoard

      Arla, The designation BCPA, Board Certification Patient Advocate, can be used no matter what the setting. The certification is earned by people who understand, utilize, and enforce the concept of patient-first – putting patients in the drivers’ seat to get what they need. If a hospital patient advocate / representative can work within that parameter, then of course, a hospital patient advocate can function as a BCPA. If the hospital puts restrictions on how its advocate functions (limits the ability of the patient to get what he/she needs) then the violation is to the code of ethics of a BCPA. It’s not so much a conflict-of-interest as it is an ethical problem – which each advocate must weigh and consider him/herself.

  • Eva

    will hospitals be hiring? can you specialize in any feild such as cancer, or neurology?

    • PACBoard

      Eva – Achieving this certification shows that you understand the standards and ethics of patient advocacy. For the moment, there are no certified advocacy specialty areas offered, although that may be a direction this Board would take in the future. Whether any employer has interest in hiring you based on any certification you earn would be up to that individual employer. Best to ask the question of them.

  • Carmen Diaz

    What’s the difference between the Certificate in Patient Advocacy from the Beryl Institute and what you are offering? I am interested in taking the exam but want to make sure it’s not duplicate. Thank you

    • PACBoard

      Hi Carmen – this is a good question and we suspect you are not the only person who has it.

      The PACB’s certification is for anyone who identifies themselves as a patient advocate who provides direct services to patients. These are most often independent advocates (self-employed, or working for an employer that is not a healthcare-related business).

      The Beryl Institute’s program is offered to hospital advocates and others who will use it with healthcare-related employers.

  • Debra Holmes

    What healthcare entities did you contact regarding this certification? Are hospitals interested in making this certification part of their hiring qualifications when it comes to those who work in this or like capacity at their institutions?

    I spent over 20 years working in strategic development for a large hospital system. My job was to review patient satisfaction results and interprets needs by area based on those results. It included presenting best practices from other resources, such as other hospitals/businesses.

    Does any hospital systems know, understand or care about this certification? Until it’s recognized as a needed qualification for specific jobs, why spend this money and time?

    Which national hospital organizations did you contact and what was the response?

    • PACBoard

      Thank you for the question about hospital systems and patient advocacy. We can share with you the historic context in the development and evolution of the need for a national certification for those who work as Patient Advocates.

      When the PACB was formed in 2012, it was evident that an independent model of advocacy would become more prevalent throughout the United States. That is, patient advocates were working directly for patient-clients, and not through a hospital, or insurer, or other employer. That new model did not yet have a certification it could look to with defined standards and ethics. Thus, that became the foundation for the work of the PACB.

      Hundreds of advocates, advocacy-related professionals, and patient-consumers have contributed through their work on the various task forces in the development of competencies and an ethics standard that defines this certification. Regardless of where a Patient Advocate may be found (hospital, community service, physician practice, employer group, or in private practice), there is now an opportunity to demonstrate to the public an achievement of certification via PACB.

      We invite you to review the Decisions and Documents page here on our website to learn more about the stringent ethics and standards the PACB has developed. In addition, we invite you to contribute in future task forces as testing and documents are updated.

      • Molly Neider

        Thank you for developing this competency for those of us that don’t particularly fit into the box.
        I would ask that the Board keep the certification reasonably priced going forward and if there is to be renewals, to keep those affordable, too. I have taken a few other certifications that I have not kept up due to the yearly cost of membership. And most do not allow one to put their certification into an “on hold” status. So if you’re not working, or working temporarily in another field, you must still pay for the yearly fee.

        • PACBoard

          Molly – to be clear – there is no annual renewal. You took and passed the exam and now your certification is valid for three years. In three years, if you want to maintain your certification, you’ll need to recertify which you will be able to do either by taking the exam again, or by submitting your CEUs (30 of them for the three years, including 6 credits in ethics). Information about how those CEUs will work will be forthcoming within the next couple of months (by Summer 2018).

  • Sue Allen

    This is great! I am so excited to see there now is a national/international certification available for patient advocates, and I look forward to following the updates until I am ready to take the exam!


    Sue Allen

  • Julia Moore

    I am a Health Insurance Specialist and also have my AS as a Medical Biller and Coder. I work for a helath insurance company in the FSA department and wanted to know exactly what the term Patient Advocate means? I take it a someone that would aid others with their medical issues with claims, claims payment, doctor appointment scheduling, teaching/helping patients with the ins and outs of their insurance, what’s allowed and not allowed, FSA questions, etc. Basically, someone woorking on behalf of the patient to help aide them with their insurance and scheduling.

    If I am off base, please let me know. If I am not, I would love to learn more and possibly move forward when everything comes together. I am a subject matter experts and help my husband’s coworkers and would love to do educate members so they aren’t out a lot of money or denied services because they didn’t understand their benefits.

    • Administrator

      Julia – you have described one set of services a patient advocate might perform. You hit the nail on the head when you start with, “someone working on behalf of the patient to help aide them…” We just finish it differently to expand the concept.

      This certification group has published our definition of a patient advocate as follows: A patient/ health advocate provides direct services to patients and their families who are navigating the complex healthcare continuum, seeking to empower and inform their autonomous choices.

      That definition includes all services an advocate might perform. Here is a master list of possibilities, which is sometimes addended as the list grows:

      We hope you’ll want to participate when our certification is complete and the opportunity to earn it becomes available.

  • Hello,

    I’ve recently discovered, I applaud the organization’s recent achievements and look forward to learning of those on the horizon. Goals that lie ahead will undoubtedly present society with such a significant value that commands meaningful reform in both the public and private sectors of healthcare.

    If the “Steering Committee” has yet to declare a name, I’d like to submit a couple ideas.
    M.A.A.P.’s (Macrocosm in Advancing Advocacy for Patients); P.A.M. (Patient Advocacy Macrocosm)
    There can be multiple variations, but I think the term ‘Macrocosm’ communicates the reality of PA covering an incredibly broad scope, which in my opinion, is much greater than that of any other professional healthcare position.

    Macrocosm -noun
    the total or entire complex structure of something.

    J. Horne

  • Jessica

    Sorry, just thought of another question.
    Is the board going to be the one making decisions on who and who will not be certified? The name Patient Advocate Certification Board, to me, infers that you would be making the decisions on who will be awarded certification. If you were just going to be developing the program and initiating it, I would imagine there would be something of that manner in the name. Like Patient Advocacy Certification Program committee or if you did something more general, you could use the committee for other functions and then just list the current topic as the focus of the committee. (I am taking this model from the government lol) For example, the committee for the advancement of professional patient advocacy, and then you could either create a subcommittee for the development of a board certification process. If you do it this way, you set yourself up for other initiatives/committees to solve problems in the future. I don’t know, when I read the name patient advocate certification board, it just made me think that you were the board determining who was granted certification and nothing about you were creating the actual program that advocates will have to go through.

    • Administrator

      Big questions here Jessica. It will not be individuals who make any decisions about who will, or won’t, be certified. There will be specific criteria that need to be met, and there will be some sort of testing process (TBD). Applicants will either meet the criteria, or they won’t.

      Re: programs to learn about advocacy and prepare to be certified – will come under a totally separate umbrella, not related to how applicants are tested or how those outcomes will be determined.

  • Avrom Fox

    I completed the patient advocacy program at UCLA and have been working part time with Teri Dreher of North Shore Patient Adovcates in Chicagoland. I also have an MSW.

    You documents are fair, and totally consistent with ethics and professionalism.

    I am curious as to what time of written testing will be required.


  • Blair Waters

    Would it be fair to say, if someone is looking at getting a certification in patient advocacy they should wait. If someone were to get their certification now from a group, and when the guidelines are standardized and implemented would that previous certification now be obsolete, and thus void?

    • Administrator

      “Fair to say?” – no. Not at all.

      You’re talking about apples and oranges. Earning a certificate from an organization or educational institution is not the same as becoming a certified advocate. Here is more on that subject: If you earn a certificate, it’s an achievement you have earned – like a college degree – no one can ever take that away from you. A certificate comes from one institution that says you met their requirements. This certification will represent a national set of standards for the entire profession, internationally.

      Becoming a certified advocate will be like becoming a certified accountant or engineer or similar to other professions that are certified. In order for those people to earn their certification, they had to get their college diplomas first (a certificate from that college or university), then take an exam or demonstrate their skills in some way to prove they met a national set of criteria to allow them to be certified. That nationally (or internationally) recognized set of standards is what this group is working on for patient advocacy.

      Taking classes and earning a certificate now can only help you and your potential clients, and make it easier for you to earn the national certification once it is available.

  • Terry Reed

    With the phasing in of AHC beginning next year, there is a great need for patient navigators and advocates – yet I had no idea there was not national certification eduation or anything! That’s insane. Are there ANY classes at all, anything to help??

    • Administrator

      Terry – “insane” is way too strong a word. This is a brand new career and is just now beginning to grow. Prior to this time in history it would have been impossible to establish a credential.

      There are about two dozens programs that currently exist, providing organization-specific certification, but more importantly, good, solid advocate education. You can find them listed here:

  • Sandra Lepley

    I graduate in May 2013 with my BSN, and will be taking my state boards in July.
    As a new nurse, is there a position I can start to train for to further help this cause.
    I would like advocate certification and think this is such a worhwhile cause.

    • Administrator

      Sandra – congratulations on completing your BSN.

      There are many available programs for patient advocacy (find them listed at Health Advocate Programs.) However, since no national or international credential for advocacy has yet been developed, none of the programs can yet specifically address what will be needed for that credential. That said, most do address best practices for advocates and we can assume that’s what the credential will use as its foundation.

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