Exam Development

Peer Developed. Peer Recognized.

The HMDCB certification program is designed to promote excellence and professionalism by documenting individual performance as measured against a predetermined level of knowledge about hospice care. HMDCB's certification examination is a valid, reliable, and legally defensible assessment instrument that measures the competence of potential certificants against a codified and relevant body of hospice tasks.

An essential element of the HMDCB certification process is its dedicated team of volunteer subject matter experts (SMEs) who generously donate their time to create the examination content. The high standards of the certification program are upheld by the close working relationship between HMDCB, volunteer content experts, and testing experts. HMDCB adheres to the standards of the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) in the development and implementation of its certification program.

Developing the Exam

HMDCB is currently conducting a Practice Analysis study. The study is being conducted to update the unique set of performance domains, tasks, and associated skills of hospice physicians. HMDCB will use the survey’s results to update our Content Blueprint, which ultimately drives the content on our certification and recertification exams. If you are a hospice physician or medical director and would like to participate in the survey, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In January 2013, HMDCB conducted the initial Practice Analysis Study with more than 600 hospice medical directors participating to determine the current state of practice in the field. The results of the survey were used to create the content blueprint for the HMDCB examination. The results are also used in the development of course materials by other organizations that provide initial and continuing hospice and palliative medicine education.

SMEs identified within the field, along with HMDCB and its highly qualified psychometric consultants at PSI Candidate Services, developed an initial bank of test items. These items are routinely updated by HMDCB’s item writing committee to ensure an examination with real-life relevance. An examination committee, consisting of diverse hospice medical directors then reviews each item for content accuracy and relevance, categorizes questions within the content domains of the exam blueprint, reviews the psychometrics of test items and examinations, and determines the passing score. By having SMEs and PSI working in conjunction, HMDCB has developed an exam that is legally defensible and psychometrically sound.

HMDCB continually evaluates and updates its certification and recertification processes. Approximately every five years, a new practice analysis study will be conducted to identify any role changes of the hospice medical director, with examinations modified accordingly.

The certification examination, consisting of 165 multiple choice questions, is administered annually at designated testing sites throughout the United States run by PSI Candidate Services. To ensure that knowledge and skills are maintained at the specialty level, each HMDCB physician must meet Maintenance of Certification requirements every six years.

"The HMDCB certification is a great way to show excellence and commitment to the care of hospice patients and their families. It also provides hospice organizations with a way to distinguish themselves as leaders by encouraging their physicians and medical directors to become certified.”

Medical Director, Midland Care Connection, Inc., Topeka, KS