Certification Guide

How to Become a Certified Breast Health Clinical Navigator (BHCN) through the National Consortium of Breast Centers’ (NCBC) Breast  Navigator Certification Program

Interested participants contact the National Consortium of Breast Centers office by phone, or email or visit https://www.navigatorcertifications.org/bhcn-certification-schedule/ and fill out the application. Once the participant is deemed eligible to test and has submitted the required application and fees, a policy guide and list of reference material is sent to their listed email address at least three weeks prior to the testing. Tests are held multiple times per year: in March at the annual NCBC conference and at least twice a year online please visit https://www.navigatorcertifications.org/bhcn-certification-schedule/ for a schedule of open windows.

Criteria for the application to test are listed below.  Each exam is either 100 or 125 questions and you are given 3 hours to take the exam.  Scores are sent via email within 3 weeks of taking the exam.  If an individual does not pass the examination he/she may sit for the examination again during the next 12 months for no additional fee (except travel to where the exam is being offered).  If an applicant desires to sit for the examination again after 12 months of their first registration (or examination) they will need to pay the registration fee again to take the examination.  If the tester fails a second time, they must wait 6 months to retest and must pay a retest fee of $295.

Accreditations for BHCN Exam

On July 4, 2023, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) granted accreditation to the National Consortium of Breast Centers (NCBC) for demonstrating compliance with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. The NCCA Standards were created in 1977 and updated in 2016 to ensure certification programs adhere to modern standards of practice for the certification industry.  The National Consortium of Breast Centers joins an elite group of more than 130 organizations representing over 315 programs that have received and maintained NCCA accreditation. Click here for the official press release


BHCN Eligibility Requirements

Licensure: Provide proof of valid medical license as a Registered Nurses or medical imager/radiologic technologist within the applicant’s professional role and scope of practice.
Experience  Complete a minimum of 1 year breast care navigation practice (defined as 1500 hours) prior to certification testing. Experience must be within the past 2 years.
Education Complete at least eight hours of relevant focused educational courses in breast care, breast cancer and or breast navigation. Up to four hours of tumor board participation can be included.
Register Pay the testing fee of $295 and register through https://www.navigatorcertifications.org/bhcn-certification-schedule/
Exam Pass the BHCN Exam

BHCN Eligibility Requirement Rationale
The rationale for eligibility requirements and verification is to have a well-educated and experienced medial professional who has the desire and ability to further their education through certification, to improve the delivery of care and patient outcomes in their practice, clinic, or breast center. Education combined with experience, and certifications or licensure demonstrate dedication to the overall goals.

Licensure Registered nurses and medical imagers are required to hold a current, valid license in accordance with their professional role and scope of practice because licensure is required for all medical professionals to practice at this level of care.
Experience A minimum of 1 year (1500 hours) of breast care navigation experience is necessary to provide the breadth and depth of experience necessary for a candidate to gain adequate experience in the skills and knowledge commonly encountered in the specialized role and needed to be successful in the field of breast care navigation. Experience within the past two years is necessary to ensure the experience is relevant to current practice.
Education Multiple pathways and educational resources are accepted because there is no formalized training or curriculum for the role. Up to eight hours of continuing education or related training from self-study, practice-based education, online courses, web-based study, review of professional journals, or in-person courses directly related to breast health clinical navigation ensures that applicants have been exposed to best practices. Tumor board participation provides in-depth, hands-on training in best practices and standards of care for medical treatment with the multi-disciplinary
treatment team.

Education and Experience
Navigators are expected to be trained and working in the field of Navigation prior to taking the certification exam. NCBC recognizes that navigation includes a wide spectrum of roles providing care to a diverse patient population. Breast health is an evolving field of medicine and ongoing education is essential to the practice; options include self-study, the NCoBC National Conference, or other available nationally recognized continuing education providers. The applicant applying for certification should have a minimum of 1 year breast care navigation practice prior to certification testing, or a minimum of 1500 hours of breast care navigation practice within the past 2 years

NCBC is the testing organization therefore we cannot be the educator.
What this means is we are not allowed to provide the educational material for the examination. NCBC will provide a self study handbook within 7 days of receiving payment for those who are registered for the exam, to assist in the review of the main domains and concepts of the expected knowledge.  We will not share samples of our test as that would be a violation of the standards we are held to. The candidate handbook, sent by NCBC, does not contain all the material the applicant should review to prepare for the examination, but it does list the resources from which questions/answers were validated. To prepare for the examination the applicant may take the practice exam questions offered in the study document and refresh him/herself on missed practice test questions, as well as review information received during their medical professional training. This handbook was not designed to teach you about imaging or oncology, you should already know that if you are working in the field. The use of the handbook is optional. The NCBC Certification Board does not require, endorse, or recognize any exam preparation tool as the best, only, or preferred method. Each candidate should develop their own study plan. Use of the self‐study document does not imply or guarantee successful test outcomes. The NCBC Certification Board does not approve, endorse, review or recommend any specific study guides. The self‐study materials are developed independently from the Certification Board. 

Target Audience
BHCN certification is available only in the US. Candidates are licensed Registered Nurses or medical imager/radiologic technologists with experience and/or training in patient navigation seeking to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and experience in breast care navigation to optimize the quality of and delivery of breast care. These healthcare professionals work in a variety of healthcare settings.

Navigation ROLE Description
The Certified Breast Navigator:

• Utilizes best practices for the improvement of patient access to timely and appropriate
breast care, evidence-based guidelines, and the cancer care experience in accordance
with his/her scope of practice.
• Provides patient-centered navigation, education, and care coordination across the
breast care continuum (screening, diagnosis, active treatment, survivorship and/or end-of-life care)
• Identifies potential and realized barriers to care (i.e. financial, practical, and social).
Partners with patients/families to address their concerns, issues, and needs. Identifies
appropriate and available resources/programs/support system to reduce or eliminate
needs and barriers.
• Assists patients in accessing care and navigating health care systems. Supports patients
through advocacy, education, coordination of care and continued assessment of barriers
and needs.

Definition of a Navigator
A certified breast navigator is a dedicated person experienced in the flow of events in the screening, diagnostic breast care, treatment, and survivorship setting of breast cancer.  The certified breast navigator uses specific navigation tools to assess barriers, educate, and support the patient throughout the continuum of breast care with a set of holistic standards.  These standards include ongoing assessment and support of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, legal, educational, sexuality, and family needs.  The certified breast navigator effectively utilizes assistance from facility, community, and national sources to lessen the severity of impact on a diagnosis of breast cancer.