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Patient Advocate Certification Board announces its inaugural class of board-certified professionals

May 16th, 2018 | Posted in Advocacy 101, Professional Skills

There are now 149 patient advocates who can officially add “board certified” to their resumes and the credential BCPA — for Board Certified Patient Advocate — to their names after passing the first national certification exam offered in the United States.

The Patient Advocate Certification Board (PACB) notified those who passed the exam of their official certification in late April.

The total number who registered for the inaugural exam “was much higher than we anticipated, which was a great thing,” said Connie Sunderhaus, a long-time case manager and president of PACB. She is also a DecisionHealth consultant to Patient Advocate Report.

While the PACB has declined to release the exact number of people who signed up for that inaugural exam, not everyone who signed up passed, she said.

The next chance to take the exams will be in September, and expect it to be a challenge. The feedback from the March examination included comments such as “This was a tough exam,” “A fair examination,” and “Harder than expected,” according to information released by Sunderhaus.

The testing and certification is the result of more than six years of work by Sunderhaus and others in the growing field of patient advocacy to set ethical standards and professional competencies for advocates.

The PACB, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was created in 2012 with those goals in mind.

The board solicited public comments and used that to help define “the domains of practice for patient advocates,” according to information from PACB. That information can be found on the PACB website at

“Patient advocacy is becoming increasingly distinct as an independent professional domain,” said Sunderhaus in a written release announcing the results of the first exam. “Historically populated by skilled practitioners from a variety of professional backgrounds, patient advocates can now demonstrate their knowledge and professionalism by achieving a credential unique to this practice.”

The actual testing was conducted by PTC, which will also oversee the upcoming exams. The exams are held at Professional Testing Corporation (PTC) testing sites across the nation.

Registration for the September exam is already open. While test results are not immediate, those taking the test are provided a percentage of how many answers were correct within each of the domains identified by the board, says Sunderhaus.

Those who did not pass in March may try again. The test can be taken three times, according to eligibility requirements, but after a third failure you must wait a year to take the test again.

There are no education, experience or licensing requirements for now, but that only applies to the first four rounds of testing. Exams will only be held twice a year, for now. The cost of the test is $375.

Patient Advocates who earn the BCPA credential must be recertified every three years, according to PACB information. Certified advocates will be listed on the PACB website, upon consent.

Eventually, the board hopes to have a searchable database of board-certified advocates, says Sunderhaus.

For more information on the exam, go to — A.J. Plunkett (