HMD Certification

Why am I taking the HMDCB certification exam?

I have completed my application, paid my fee, scheduled my exam, and now I am beginning to study! So why am I doing this?

I have been in Hospice and Palliative Medicine for almost 30 years. I am a fellow and past president of the AAHPM. I am a founding member of the Academy, and I have my own palliative care company employing over 25 physicians, with two new contracts. How could I possibly benefit from getting this certification? I have talked with many people over the last two years who may have different credentials but do have the same question.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine is a very young field. Its entire existence fits within my career, and I am nowhere near ready to retire. In its short history, HPM has become a subspecialty of medicine and has a seat with the big boys of medicine. One of the consequences of this is that the board certification now requires a fellowship. There are only about 250 training positions in the country, and as a general rule, the only people that do fellowships are young physicians fresh out of training. Many of us who do hospice medicine are neither young nor fresh out of training, and are unlikely to stop our current activities to do a fellowship even if there were adequate physicians.

As of last count, there are over 5800 hospice programs in the country, and I believe a similar number of declared palliative medicine programs. Many physicians don’t consider this, but there are more board certified HPM physicians now than there are likely to ever be in the future. This is due to the fact that the large majority of physicians who are board certified, qualified for that certification based on practice experience, not fellowship training.

In addition to these workforce considerations, the regulatory and administrative demands on hospice physicians are constantly growing. Gone are the days where hospices could have their medical directors “sit down, shut up, and sign”. The hospices need physicians that are competent not only in good palliative medicine, but that also know how to provide for these regulatory and administrative needs.

Here enters the need for a certification that a physician can deliver these goods. This certification never intends to be an ABMS/AOA board specialty, and therefore will never require a fellowship. A physician can qualify to take the exam if they have had a fellowship, but they can also qualify now and forever, by practice experience. This certification also focuses very heavily on hospice and not the broader world of non-hospice palliative medicine. We fully anticipate that this will be the credential of value to the hospice industry as we go forward.

I don’t believe that getting this certification will change or enhance my professional life at this point in my career. I do believe that this certification is very important to the world of hospice medicine. This young profession needs all of us to step up to provide this very important credentialing foundation to the work that we do. If you, like me, see what you do as something more than a job, then I would like to extend a personal challenge for you to look beyond the personal gains, and assist in getting the momentum behind this certification.

Submitted by: David M. McGrew, MD FAAHPM

HMDCB Certification Discount at Assembly

If you missed the early application deadline to sit for the HMDCB exam, don’t worry! Attendees of AAHPM’s Assembly and virtual assembly will receive a discount code to waive the $250 late fee. Simply stop by the HMDCB booth, #418, and ask for the code.

Hospice medical directors are a diverse group of professionals, many of whom have followed varied career paths leading to their affiliation with hospice programs. Thus, some may be unable or choose not to undertake full hospice and palliative medicine subspecialty board certification through ABMS or AOA. These same physicians, however, do desire a formal recognition process that will validate their commitment and provide a solid foundation for their work as hospice medical directors.

By applying to become Hospice Medical Director Certified® (HMDC®), physicians can achieve profession recognition and credibility, increase your professional marketability, and enhance the team approach that is essential to successful hospice care.


    To earn the HMDC credential, licensed physicians from the United States and Canada must

  • Demonstrate 400 hours of broad hospice-related activities during the past 5 years
  • Conform to HMDCB Code of Professional Conduct
  • Meeting ONE of the follow 3 eligibility pathways:
    • Practice Pathway: 2 years of work experience in a hospice setting:
    • Certification Pathway: Current certification in hospice and palliative medicine (HPM) through ABMS, AOA, or ABHPM:
    • Training Pathway: Successful completion of an HPM-accredited fellowship training program:
  • Pass a certification exam.

Learn more about HMDCB at Be sure to visit HMDCB in booth #418 at Assembly to receive your discount card!

Applying and Preparing for Hospice Medical Director Certification through HMDCB

HMDCB is currently accepting applications to become Hospice Medical Director Certified™ (HMDC™) in 2015. HMDCB’s certification exam is for hospice physicians seeking to demonstrate an essential skill set that comprises the administrative, regulatory, legal, and clinical skill necessary in hospice medicine. Early applications are due February 9, 2015 and late applications will be accepted until March 9, 2015 with an assessed $250 late fee. Apply early and save!

So you’re thinking about taking the exam, but are not sure how to prepare. AAHPM provides a number of products to help with your exam preparation.

  • HMD Prep – great for self-assessment or HMDC exam preparation, this 75-item multiple-choice practice test assesses your knowledge in hospice practice. Content is based on the HMDC exam blueprint.
  • Hospice Medical Director Manual – this book defines best practices; offers tools and sample documents; and provides answers about physician roles in hospice, employment in or contracting with a hospice and the medical director’s responsibilities on the hospice team and within the organization.
  • Recordings of the 2013 HMD Conference – these recordings are great practice resources that highlight the clinical, administrative, and regulatory aspects of your work; they include audio and synchronized PowerPoint content and separate audio files.

Visit for information regarding the examination or browse the AAHPM store to order your preparatory materials!