Do You Need to Be a Certified Professional?

logos from various advocacy and care management certifications

Every profession worth its salt is led by a certification organization that lays out its foundational best practices and ethics. Certification is one of any specific profession’s definers, helping to distinguish it from other professions and outlining its benefit to society.

Further, and in this case more importantly, certifications are respected and valued. And that’s the crux of this post.

One question I’m asked frequently is whether an independent advocate is required to be certified.

Are you REQUIRED to be certified as a patient advocate?

The answer is NO. There is no government or other authority that requires someone be certified in order to call themselves a “health or patient advocate.” If all you want to do is print up some business cards, maybe develop a website, and tell people you are an advocate or care manager, then no. It’s not necessary for you to earn certification.

So if the answer is “no” – then why this discussion? Easy. It’s because

That isn’t the right question!

Here is the RIGHT question:

If I want to succeed at being a private advocate or care manager, starting, growing, and maintaining an independent practice, do I need to earn certification?

The answer to that question is a resounding YES!

If you want to succeed you MUST be certified.

Says who? Says me. Trisha. And, says every patient or caregiver who ever wanted to find the BEST advocate or care manager to work with.

Here’s why:

There is a growing body of advocates and care managers – now in the thousands and growing larger every day. Among them, many offer the same services as you do. When someone wants to find the BEST advocacy or care manager to work with, that someone will go in search of the person they think can offer them the highest level of service, and provide them with the best outcomes, most appropriate to their needs.

That means they will compare one advocate to another in whatever way they think is prudent to do so. And one of those areas of comparison will be to determine whether or not someone is certified. To any searcher, a claim of certification signals a level of excellence and recognition – which is what they want, what they are looking for.

Don’t believe me? Try this: Say you are looking for a lawyer who can help you create the contract you’ll use in your practice. You do an online search for that lawyer and you come up with a few dozen in the geographic area you work in. You begin to compare one to the next and you learn that three of them are certified by the Association of Small Business Lawyers. Most likely you will instantly narrow your further comparisons to those three because you believe that since they’ve earned those certifications they will be better choices.

Being certified is, at least, a marketing tool.

You can see that my determination of “necessary” is because certification is imperative in a marketing sense.

But to be clear, here is an important truth:

When you have taken the time to study and learn and EARN certification, it means you also believe in the excellence of its best practices and ethics, and that you have certified that you will adhere to them. I believe a strong certification is CRUCIAL for the growth of the profession. And THAT is the reason I served on the Board during the first six years of the Patient Advocate Certification Board’s existence, through the launch of the first PACB exam.

Further, I believe that anyone who wants to call themselves a “health / patient advocate” or “care manager” MUST be certified so they understand the practice and ethical standards of the profession, and so they can therefore represent our profession well.

But the reality is that, in order for someone to become a SUCCESSFUL independent advocate, the ability to claim earned certification is one of the attributes that will help achieve that success. Without it, the phone won’t ring as often as it will for those who are certified. Patients, caregivers, and other searchers demand it.

Which certification do you need to earn?

screenshot PACB email

There are actually a handful of relevant and worthwhile certifications that will serve you well, as an independent advocate or care manager. Some of the relevant certifications are represented by those logos above.

There are others, too. If your previous profession was relevant, perhaps as a social worker, or a medical professional, or even a health insurance professional or medical billing specialist then I say – sure, that works!

I’m partial to the BCPA – Board Certified Patient Advocate because that’s been my world for so long, and because I know the excellence and ethics it represent more intimately. In fact, it was this email, sent to promote its Fall 2023 exam that prompted me to post about the necessity of certification.

So – the final word. Just do it! If you haven’t earned certification, then begin researching the possibilities. If you’ve earned certification previously, then review its application to your work as an advocate or care manager. If you want to earn more than one certification then – yes! – do it! That will be even more powerful on your resumé.

Certification will be crucial if you want to be successful.

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Content Authenticity Declaration

100% of this post was written by me, a human being. When there is AI (Artificial Intelligence) generated content, it will always be disclosed.

Trisha Torrey
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