Professional certification of a specialized skill set affirms a knowledge and experience base for hospice practitioners. It signifies to employers and the public that the professional is committed to career development and dedicated to patient and family care, the functioning of the interdisciplinary team, the sustainability and health of the hospice, and the credibility and profile of the field at large. The professional standards inherent to a certification process also assure regulators and consumers of consistency across the spectrum of practitioners working in the field.
Offers eligibility through an experiential "practice" pathway not currently offered through the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
Enhances the work of the palliative care specialist
Validates knowledge and skills of hospice physicians
Helps address the growing workforce and quality issues in the field
Hospice Medical Directors (HMDs) are a diverse group of professionals, many of whom have followed varied career paths leading to their affiliation with hospice programs. Thus, some may be unable or choose not to undertake full hospice and palliative medicine subspecialty board certification through ABMS or AOA. These same physicians, however, do desire a formal recognition process that will validate their commitment and provide a solid foundation for their work as HMDs.
In addition, the knowledge base and competencies required of a hospice medical director include a unique subset of hospice and palliative medicine that may not be covered fully in broader training in the field. Because the hospice medical director certification is distinct from ABMS and AOA subspecialty certifications, it can serve to enhance the work of hospice and palliative medicine specialists who choose to become HMDs.
The hospice medical director certification program provides the tools to help HMDs and physicians who provide hospice care better handle their leadership positions and be more effective partners with hospice administrators by:
defining and upholding standards of practice for this specific role
addressing the core roles and administrative, regulatory, legal, and ethical responsibilities of the hospice physician
serving as a verification of the mastery of a minimum level of competence in the skills and knowledge required by the hospice physician
improving the quality and consistency of the practice within hospice and palliative medicine and the care provided by local hospices.
In 2016, nearly 80% of the physicians who took the exam said they did so to be recognized for their knowledge and skills in hospice medicine.
Frequently Asked Questions by Physicians
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Who is eligible? The certification is intended for licensed physicians who provide hospice care and currently serve or intend to serve as a hospice medical director. Visit our eligibility requirements page for details on all requirements.
How is this certification different from ABMS or AOA subspecialty certification in hospice and palliative medicine? This certification is complementary to ABMS and AOA certification, but specific to the practice of hospice medicine. It assesses additional expertise in the unique competencies to perform the role of a hospice medical director, such as regulatory, administrative, legal, ethical competencies, and clinical skills appropriate for hospice patients.
Is this certification program required? Hospice Medical Director Certification is strictly voluntary.
What does the examination entail? The HMDCB examination consists of 165 multiple-choice questions. Candidates will be allowed three (3) hours to complete the exam. The examination is offered annually.
When can I apply? The 2017 certification cycle is now closed. The online application must be completed via laptop or desktop computer. The application is not supported by mobile devices.
Where will the examination be given? Candidates will take the computer-based examination at one of more than 300 authorized PSI/AMP Candidate Services testing centers across the United States during the 2018 examination window. The examination is administered by appointment only.
How do I schedule my examination appointment? Within 15 business days of receipt of your completed application and payment, HMDCB's testing company partner, PSI/AMP Candidate Services, will send a confirmation of eligibility notification including instructions on how to schedule your examination.
How do I prepare for the HMDCB certification exam? HMDCB has published a detailed content blueprint for candidates, which includes the content areas covered and the approximate number of questions in each area. Useful resources would include federal regulations and textbooks, online review courses, and topic specific webinars which are available from other organizations.
What are the registration fees? The certification examination cost is $1100; this fee must accompany the application. Candidates who apply after the early application deadline are assessed an additional late fee. All applications are completed online. The examination fee covers application review, administrative costs, and testing company fees.
Do I have to participate in the Maintenance of Certification program? Yes. Initial board certification is valid for 6 years. All physicians who become certified must participate in the maintenance phase, the most important part of any quality board certification program.
Does the HMDCB certification meet health care systems' and accrediting bodies' requirements for board certification? The HMDCB Board of Directors is confident it has created a rigorous and structured assessment program that will continue to be recognized by health care organizations and accreditation bodies. Currently, both CHAP and The Joint Commission recognize the HMDC credential. Potential applicants should check with their specific health care system to determine whether the HMDCB certification meets its requirements.
What is the difference between certification and a certificate program? The primary difference is purpose and core design. The purpose of certification is to assess current knowledge and skills and identify those who meet the minimum criteria established. A certificate program's purpose is to educate or train individuals to achieve specified learning outcomes and identify those who have achieved them. HMDCB has developed a certification program.
How do I find a Hospice Medical Director Certified Physician? HMDCB has a Find an HMDC search directory. Users can search physicians by name or state/province.
How do I join the HMDCB mailing list? Subscribe to updates through this website. You can also forward your contact information to HMDCB at
or call 847.375.6740 to be added.
"The HMDCB certification program is an important avenue to establishing one's expertise in the administrative and clinical skillset demanded of a hospice medical director. It helps to affirm the importance of physicians providing end-of-life care within the larger palliative and medical continuum of care."
Suzanne Karefa-Johnson, MD HMDC
Physician, Hospice of the Comforter, Altamonte Springs, FL