This post, originally written in January 2011, was accurate at the time; there was no universally recognized patient advocacy certification.
That changed in early 2018 when the first certification exam was offered by the Patient Advocate Certification Board. As of June 2020, there are currently 645 BCPA certified advocates.
Find updated information at the end of the post.
(Updated: June 2020)
Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t write to me asking about patient advocacy certification. It’s confusing, because they read that there are courses that will help them become certified, and then they find other pieces I have written about the lack of a certification system.
So it’s time to clarify: There is a difference between earning a certificate – and being certified, even if Merriam Webster might tell you those two concepts are related.
“To be certified” carries with it an assumption that there is some sort of national (even international) standard set of skills, recognition, accreditation, or competencies and criteria that someone has met,developed or earned. As if a national body of some sort has said “Yes – this person meets this high standard of education and capability, so we are blessing him or her with our certification.” “To be certified” may even mean to some people that some sort of governmental recognition in the form of a license or listing has taken place.
But as of 2011, there are no governments, nor nationally respected, nor generally accepted groups that have determined a group of standards, nor benchmarks, nor capabilities that supply a certification that is universally recognized. And that is the key: none are universally recognized.
No such a certification exists – yet.*
The confusion comes from the fact…