As clinical ethics consultants move toward professionalization, the process of certifying individual consultants or accrediting programs will be discussed and debated. With certification, some entity must be established or ordained to oversee the standards and procedures. If the process evolves like other professions, it seems plausible that it will eventually include a written examination to evaluate the core knowledge competencies that individual practitioners should possess to meet peer practice standards. The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) has published core knowledge competencies for many years that are accepted by experts as the prevailing standard. Probably any written examination will be based upon the ASBH core knowledge competencies. However, much remains to be done before any examination may be offered. In particular, it seems likely that a recognized examining board must create and validate examination questions and structure the examination so as to establish meaningful, defensible parameters after dealing with such challenging questions as: Should the certifying examination be multiple choice or short-answer essay? How should the test be graded? What should the pass rate be? How may the examination be best administered? To advance the field of health care ethics consultation, thought leaders should start to focus on the written examination possibilities, to date unaddressed carefully in the literature. Examination models—both objective and written—must be explored as a viable strategy about how the field of health care ethics consultations can grow toward professionalization.
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