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

Criteria for the application to test are listed below.  Each exam is 150 questions and you are given 3 hours to take the exam.  Scores are sent via email within 3 weeks of taking the exam.  A passing score is of 80% or better is required to become certified.  If an individual does not pass the examination, he/she may sit for the examination again during the next 12 months fpr 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.

The NCBC Breast Patient Navigation Certification Program offers six types of Breast Patient Navigator Certifications: The Certified Navigator - Breast  in Imaging, Management, Advocate, Clinical, Provider, or Nurse.  Navigators only take 1 exam, the exam developed for their specific licensure.

CERTIFIED NAVIGATORS – BREAST (+ individual designation based on licensure)  

CN-BI = Diagnostic Imaging/Treatment Techs (All technologists from diagnostics to treatments)

CN-BM  = Management/Social Worker (All social workers and managers of navigators)

CN-BA = Advocate (All volunteers/lay navigators)

CN-BC = Clinical (All certified medical assistants, technicians, licensed practical/vocational nurses)

CN-BP = Provider (All breast care diagnosticians, nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assts, breast care PhDs)

CN-BN = RN (All registered nurses from breast care, diagnostic imaging, treatment, survivorship, genetics)

Certification Eligibility Requirements: The applicant must:

  • Be a licensed medical professional and hold a valid medical license as a physician, nurse, physician assistant, social worker, radiologic technologist, radiology practitioner assistant, social worker, or advanced practice nurse OR
  • Be master level prepared in a health related field; OR
  • Be a lay or volunteer navigator and have taken an approved patient navigation course; AND
  • Navigate breast patients for at least 25% of the applicants job responsibility OR
  • Have supervision of breast patient navigators; and
  • Provide proof of valid license or certification (not required for those taking the Advocate examination); and
  • Sign up to take the exam at one of our many locations.  At our annual conference in Las Vegas 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).  Cost for Regional locations is $459.

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.

Only those individuals eligible to be certified will be awarded certification upon successfully meeting the certification requirements.  Individuals who do not meet certification eligibility requirements will not be allowed to sit for the examination.

As soon as a person successfully enrolls for the program, a self-study document is emailed within 7 working days. It contains, information about the program objectives, Certification Renewal Information, Navigator 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.

NCBC cannot provide training due to accreditation requirements.  We have partnered with the Harold Freeman Patient Navigation Institute.  Dr. Freeman, the father of patient navigation, has developed this one-day breast specific navigation review course just for NCBC.  This course was designed to help you review the flow of navigation as well as the barriers to care that you, as a navigator, must help patients overcome. This course costs $499 and you can register online through our registration system or by calling the Patient Navigation Institute.  This course was not designed to teach you about imaging or oncology, you should already know that if you are working in the field.

The study document, sent by NCBC, does not contain all the material the applicant should review to prepare for the examinations, but it does list the resources from which questions/answers were validated. To prepare for the examinations the applicant should take the practice exams offered in the study document and refresh him/herself on missed practice test questions, as well as on information received during their medical professional training.

NCBC Navigator Certification Renewal

The Breast Patient Navigator Certification is a life long certification; however it does require annual renewals. Renewal information can be found on the Certified-Navigators tab of this website. Current membership in the NCBC is required for each certified individual wishing to renew certification (minimum $150 for Independent Breast Health Professional membership).  You also need 8 CEUs each year, 4 for breast and 4 for navigation in addition to the $50 renewal fee.  To review the full NCBC Navigator Policies and Procedures manual, please click here - Navigator processes and procedures.

NCBC Navigator Matrix

In an effort to minimize variances in a breast patient's continuum of care and the definition/function of a breast patient navigator providing care within that continuum, BPNC and the NCBC introduced a breast health care continuum matrix. This formal matrix offers a model for continuity in a breast patient's care, which can be adopted and modified by institutions providing breast care/cancer services.

The matrix goes deeper and identifies the navigation stages within the breast patient's continuum of care. The navigation stages are separated into two sets: breast imaging stages and breast cancer diagnosis and treatment stages. The navigation stages are located across the top of the chart and are in various colors.

Each navigation stage begins and ends with the patient as the focus. The description of the beginning and ending activity(ies) for each stage are reflected in red type. There may be more than one choice of the ending activity depending on a patient's situation. As was earlier stated, this is a model, and each patient's care is highly individualized.

The matrix further identifies the integrated navigation team member(s) who may be called upon for assistance in each navigation stage. Integrated team members include medically credentialed professionals, non-medically credentialed professionals, consultants, and volunteers. These are listed in the left-most column. There is an X in each cell that indicates which stage(s) each integrated team member is most likely to be called upon for assistance to the navigator who has direct responsibility for the patient.

Click here to view the Breast Patient Navigation Matrix.

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