As if facing a terminal disease or condition was not stressful enough, the patient and his family members often must also deal with the stress of making end-of-life decisions. Thankfully, hospice administrators provide assistance, comfort and direction to terminally-ill patients and their loved ones. Hospice administrators manage hospice facilities, where patients receive care and comfort during their last days. The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes hospice administrators under the job category of medical and health services managers. About 70 percent of these workers were female as of 2012, the BLS reports.
Earning a certification as a hospice administrator starts by choosing from one of several providers. Certification comes from national boards, including the National Board for Home Care and Hospice Certification and the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses, both of which offer a hospice administrator designation. Other providers include industry associations like the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.
Not just anyone is eligible to earn certification as a hospice administrator. Each provider sets its own eligibility requirements, but requirements typically include obtaining a certain educational level combined with a certain number of years of experience. The NBHHC, for example, asks candidates with a bachelor’s degree to have at least one year of experience as an administrator in hospice or five years as a manager in hospice care, while those with an associate degree need two years as an administrator or seven as a manager. Once a candidate determines she is eligible, she can start the application process and pay the appropriate fees.
Another hurdle to cross in obtaining certification is the exam. After the provider approves a candidate’s application, she can schedule and prepare for the test. Typically, the certification exam consists of around 100 multiple-choice questions and takes place at third-party testing centers, on paper or via computer. While hands-on experience in hospice care is the best way to prepare for the exam, candidates wanting extra help can find resources like study guides, workbooks, practice tests and even local study groups. Topics covered in the exam include management, ethics, human resources, fiscal planning, marketing and rules and regulations.
While the certification exam may be the hard part, a certification holder's work is not over after the test. Every few years -- typically every one to four years -- an administrator must renew her certification. NBHHC certification holders must renew every four years, for example. The renewal process involves being employed for a certain number of months during the renewal period, as well as earning a certain number of continuing education credits. Credits come from courses and classes as well as industry-related events like workshops, seminars and membership in associations.
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