How to Become a Certified Breast Patient Navigator
through the National Consortium of Breast Centers’ (NCBC) Breast Patient Navigator Certification Program
Certification reflects an individual’s achievement beyond licensure requirements and a basic level of knowledge. It exhibits dedication to validating a specific set of skills to provide enhanced care and services for patients and clients through advanced competency. For additional information see the “Benefits of Certification”.
The NCBC offers a day and a half Breast Patient Navigation Certification Program. Day one provides breast patient navigation information. The agenda for day one is designed to provide background on breast patient navigation and information on the validity of the importance of the navigation role. It also incorporates interaction with peers through discussions regarding several case studies involving the breast patient navigator and his/her needed knowledge to successfully navigate a patient through diagnosis and/or treatment in an efficient and effective manner. Through case study discussions and presentations, much of the test material is covered; however, day one is not designed as a review of test material nor is it designed as a course to teach individuals how to become navigators. Day one is designed to provide additional information about navigating breast care/cancer patients to that which the registrant has already gained through career experience, other licensure or certifications and self-study. Day one attendance is optional however attendance is highly encouraged.
Day one, presentations include “What is a Patient Navigator” which narrates what is meant by the term, the process of identification and elimination of barriers for patients and their families and the goals of navigation and responsibilities of a navigator based on the clinical setting they work within; “Demonstrating the Value of the Navigator Position” which validates the vital role the navigator plays in coordination and facilitation throughout the continuum of care; “Case Studies Utilizing the Breast Patient Navigator Matrix” serves an integral part of the study and identifies the navigation stages for imaging and cancer; “Case Studies in Roundtable Discussion Groups” presented in two sections discuss the imaging and cancer care processes; “The Breast Patient Navigation Matrix” discusses the breast health/breast cancer care continuum and identifies the breast cancer/care navigation stages; and finally the “Breast Patient Navigator Activities and Knowledge / Skills” defines the role of the breast patient navigator based upon the navigation stages in the matrix.
The morning of day twooffers two certification examinations. One examination tests the knowledge of a breast patient navigator regarding the breast-imaging continuum of care; while the other tests the knowledge regarding the breast cancer continuum of care. The individual who meets the eligibility criteria** may choose to take neither, either one or both examinations. Each examination contains 100 multiple choice questions on its topic area. Two hours are allotted for completion of each test. The first two-hour test offered covers breast imaging, followed by a 30-minute break and then the two-hour test covering breast cancer is offered. A passing score is of 80% or better on either examination is required to become certified at some level. If an individual does not pass the examination, he/she may sit for the examination again during the next 12 months with no additional fee. If an applicant desires to sit for either examination again after 12 months of their first registration (or examination) they will need to pay the registration fee again to take the examination. Scores and certification materials are provided as early as possible and no later than three weeks following the examination date.
The NCBC Breast Patient Navigation Certification Program offers three types of Breast Patient Navigator Certifications: The Certified Breast Patient Navigator in Imaging, the Certified Breast Patient Navigator in Cancer and the Certified Breast Patient Navigator in both Imaging and Cancer. Only those individuals eligible to be certified will be awarded certification upon successfully meeting the certification requirements. Individuals who are not eligible to be certified may enroll for the full day program, network and learn about navigation and may sit for either or both examinations. Individuals who do not meet certification eligibility requirements and sit for examination(s) will receive test scores; but, regardless of score(s) achieved, will not receive a certification but will be awarded a certificate of attendance.
Certification Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must:
- Be a licensed medical professional and hold a valid medical license as a physician, nurse, physician assistant or social worker OR
- Be a certified medical professional and hold a valid certification as a radiologic technologist, radiology practitioner assistant, social worker, or advanced practice nurse OR
- Be master level prepared in a health related field; and
- Navigate breast patients for at least 50% of the applicants job responsibility OR
- Have supervision of breast patient navigators; and
- Provide proof of valid license or certification; and
- Pay the certification fee of $300 registration for current NCBC members or $450 registration for non-NCBC members. (One year of NCBC membership included in the $450 fee. Current membership is required to maintain certification)
Certification Eligibility Recommendation but not a Requirement:
- The applicant applying for certification should have at least two years' experience of navigating breast patients. This recommendation is based upon the review of the experience levels of those sitting for the exam and their passing or not passing the examination. The examinations cover knowledge the medical professional has gained through licensures or certifications, career experience and self-study to efficiently and effectively navigate breast care/cancer patients.
Certification Special Requests:
- If a medical professional holds a license or certification other than any one mentioned above and would like to be considered to attend the program or be eligible for certification, please contact NCBC office at 574-267-8058 or email us at NCBC@breastcare.org
As soon as a person successfully enrolls for the program, a self-study binder is mailed within 2 working days. It contains, information about the day and a half program, program objectives, Certification Renewal Information, Navigator Imaging Matrix - with relevant details and study / research information, Navigator Cancer Matrix - with relevant details and study / research information, reference websites to visit/ study, names of books to study and prepare for the certification as well as sample questions.
The binder does not contain all the material the applicant should review to prepare for the examinations. To prepare for the examinations the applicant should refresh him/herself on information received during their medical professional training. A review of the stages in the breast patient’s continuum of care should be reviewed as well as the knowledge and tasks associated with each stage about which is identified in the binder via the matrix. It is also suggested that for imaging the ACR guidelines relating to breast be reviewed as well as the NCCN guidelines relating to breast screening. For those planning to take the breast cancer certification exam, knowledge of the NCCN treatment guidelines are important to know. Also in the binder is a list of resources from which questions/answers were validated. This would be a list to review and identify any publications that may be helpful reviews. Two of the publications that many certified navigators found helpful are authored by Lillie Shockney “100 Questions & Answers about Advanced and Metastatic Breast Cancer “and” The Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Handbook for Health Care Professionals. And finally, although the case studies do not directly correlate to the examination, they are chosen for the content that will be discussed as it most aligns itself to the knowledge a navigator should possess.
The Breast Patient Navigator Certification is a life long certification; however it does require annual renewals. Annual renewal requirements may be found in the Annual Renewal Section of the Breast Patient Navigator Certification Program binder or on the BPNC.org website. Current membership in the NCBC is required for each certified individual wishing to renew certification.