The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC) is an independent certification agency that develops relevant standards and procedures to assure the competence of medical laboratory personnel. The BOC was formed in 2009 by the merger of the two major US credentialing organizations, the ASCP-Board of Registry (BOR) and the National Credentialing Agency (NCA). While maintaining a corporate relationship with ASCP for fiscal and operational purposes, the Board of Certification has autonomy in all governance and credentialing-related activities. The ASCP Board of Certification understands the importance of impartiality in conducting certification and qualification activities. It manages conflict of interest and ensures objectivity by representative membership on its Board of Governors from other associations and societies.
The Board of Governors (BOG) of the BOC is composed of representatives from many laboratory professional organizations including the three sponsoring organizations (AGT, ASCLS, and ASCP), six participating organizations (AABB, AAPA, ASC, ASM, CLMA and NSH), two collaborating partners (AACC and ASH) and one public member. The BOC brings together perspectives and expertise of laboratory professionals from many different organizations, institutions and geographic locations to address the certification needs of practitioners at all levels of practice. The BOC BOG and its committees are composed primarily of laboratory professionals and truly represent the laboratory community.
At the heart of the BOC are the Examination Committees and Qualification Work Groups that function to develop and review certification exams and qualifications, ensure the validity of exams through practice analyses, and set standards for passing exams and qualifications. Examination Committees and Qualification Work Groups are composed of technicians, technologists, laboratory scientists, supervisors, educators, and physicians from across the country. These dedicated volunteers are appointed based on their clinical competence and their desire to improve the profession through certification of laboratory professionals.
The BOC also has a number of standing committees to address issues such as the need for new certification examinations, credential maintenance, certification related research, applicant appeal of BOC decisions, finances, and ethical issues that arise from the misuse of credentials.
The mission of the BOC could not be accomplished without the hard work of the ASCP-BOC staff. They provide support and guidance to the BOG, the Examination Committees and Qualification Work Groups. BOC staff review and approve applications for certifications and credential maintenance, verify the credentials of current certificants and much more. BOC staff also work with International Advisory Boards to extend initial and continuing certification programs and, as of June 2014, have certificants in 68 countries.
ASCP-BOC certification examinations under the Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) are accredited by ANSI. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) awards accreditation to personnel certification agencies that meet the International ISO Standard 17024. The ASCP BOC is the only medical laboratory certification agency awarded accreditation by ANSI.
Certification and Qualification
Certifications and qualification are offered in a number of disciplines and technical areas. Individuals who sit for either a certification or qualification are required to meet certain academic and clinical requirements and achieve a predetermined acceptable performance or competence level. Certification examinations are of fixed-length and time, are criterion referenced and use computer adaptive testing. Qualifications may be based on an examination or a work sample project. BOC certifications and qualifications are time-limited for 3-years. To remain valid, practitioners must demonstrate their competence by completion of documented educational activities.
The BOC offers its gold standard credential in the form of international certification to eligible individuals worldwide. The ASCPi credential certifies professional competency and mirrors the standard of excellence established by the BOC.
The BOC credential is accepted by all U.S. states and territories and the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai for licensure purposes provided the individual meets all other licensure requirements.
Credential Maintenance Program (CMP)
The BOC CMP program allows practitioners in all areas of laboratory medicine to remain current in their respective disciplines and demonstrate their continued competence. Between January 1, 2004, and January 1, 2006, all US certifications became time-limited and participation in CMP a requirement to maintain a valid certificate. As of January 1, 2012, CMP is required for all ASCPi certified individuals. US and international certificants affected by these implementation dates must participate in CMP every three years, allowing the use of the “CM” designation along with their credential. Practitioners certified prior to these mandatory implementation dates may voluntarily participate in CMP and demonstrate their continued competence in their respective discipline or disciplines. Voluntary CMP must also be renewed every three years and these individuals also use the “CM” designation with their credential.
Verification of Certification
The BOC also provides primary source verification for all certifications. This may be requested by an employer, the individual, or a third party. Inquiries about an individual’s certification status will be answered with the category, certification number, validation period, or if no such certification can be verified. Information regarding this service is provided on the BOC website.
The BOC offers study guides, content outlines, and suggested reading lists as resources for taking each certification examination. Online practice tests are also available as a study aid for many of the BOC examinations.