Bootcamp for board certification: How to prepare for your ACMPE journey

News Article - 08.5.19

MGMA Staff Members
Nikki Klaus, certification manager for MGMA, works daily to help members advance to the next stage in their profession — that includes creating resources, ensuring the validity and objectivity of education programs and manage the volunteers who help uphold ACMPE standards.

As part of that ongoing work, she’s helping organize the second year of the ACMPE Bootcamp, a preconference program at MGMA19 | The Annual Conference in New Orleans.

“It's a full day bootcamp to prepare our members to be successful in the ACMPE board certification examinations,” Klaus said. Two subject-matter experts work closely with bootcamp attendees “to ensure materials that they can incorporate and use in the scenario-based exam are applicable to day-to-day life, so that it connects with the members and what they do every day at their jobs,” Klaus said.

This year, the bootcamp includes a special panel of ACMPE nominees who have taken both the multiple-choice exams and recently added scenario-based exams for tips and tricks on how to be successful in the exams. “We know that exam anxiety is a real thing, so we want to see everyone be successful and give them the tools to do so,” Klaus said. “Face-to-face time is a great time to connect, create that network of support and really help people.

From virtual learning to face-to-face education

Klaus noted that the bootcamp is rooted in the principles of existing online study groups, which take a “deep dive into the Body of Knowledge” for Medical Practice Management. “It's much more high level and more actionable than what you'll read in the Body of Knowledge Review Series or what you'll get online, because it's much more personal,” she said.

This is especially useful for nominees taking the scenario-based exam, “because it hits closer to home in terms of what they do every day at work,” Klaus added. Bootcamp attendees will work through sample questions, receive a full mock exam that’s exclusive to the event and have a breakout panel to review test-taking tips.

What practice executives need to know

ACMPE, much like any other certification program, uses the Body of Knowledge for Medical Practice Management as the framework of certification examination. “It's based off a job analysis — how much are these people doing something like this at their job every day?” Klaus said. “We, of course, stress the bigger portions of the exam, such as operations, financial management and human resources,” she noted, in addition to patient-centered care, risk and compliance and organizational governance.

ACMPE certification has been around for more than 60 years. “With that, it has that validity of being the gold standard for a practice executive,” Klaus said. “Having that on your résumé as a credential ensures to your employer, to yourself, and to your doctors, that you’re board-certified, as well, and that you meet that standard knowledge to be a practice executive.”

That said, the bootcamp is much more than an informational session. “I would highly suggest the person already know that they're interested in board certification.... This is for someone who knows that they're going to sit for the exams, especially because it is so intensive,” Klaus said.

Existing MGMA members can apply to and become an ACMPE nominee prior to attending the bootcamp. If a member applies for ACMPE nominee status at the conference, they will receive a $50 discount on their application. “We stress this because all of that continuing education [credit] from the Annual Conference only counts if they’re a nominee starting 30 days prior to their acceptance date,” Klaus noted. “If they apply at Annual Conference and are accepted the next week, those hours from Annual Conference can count” toward fulfilling certification requirements.

Typically, board certification takes six to nine months for someone very committed to completing it as quickly as possible, Klaus said; for other nominees who take a slightly slower pace, it may take nine to 12 months to complete from application to completion, and all nominees have three years to achieve certification once they have applied.

Back to school: Tips for test-taking

Most MGMA members who pursue ACMPE certification already know the nuts and bolts of successfully managing a medical practice — the process of pursuing certification is just a means to “standardize that learning,” Klaus said.

“They might use one system in their office, but a lot of offices will use different types, and so we'll test on all of those different types,” Klaus said. “This is a great opportunity for them to see a breakdown of everything [they] need to know.”

Despite having real-world bona fides, test anxiety is especially pertinent among adult learners.

“Some people haven't seen a standardized test in many years, so this feels almost foreign,” Klaus said. “One of the biggest things that we always stress to them is, this is what you do every day — you are the subject matter experts in this particular area. That's why you're taking this certification, so that you can establish that you meet that gold standard.”

This allows nominees to go in with confidence and be armed with common test-taking tips, such as making sure to read questions fully before answering. “Especially with a scenario-based question, you can't actually successfully answer a question without reading the scenario because it's written toward the scenario,” Klaus said. “I would schedule a clinic a lot different if I was in a resort town versus a large metropolitan area, so I need to pay attention that situation.”

Ignite excellence

  • The ACMPE Bootcamp runs 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, ahead of MGMA19 | The Annual Conference in New Orleans. Registration is now open — learn more at
  • For more content about what to expect in New Orleans, check out The Fuse, the Annual Conference blog.

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