Front-office focus: Reevaluating the CDPMA exam

May 6, 2008
The Dental Assisting National Board is reevaluating and updating the Certified Dental Practice Management Administrator certification exam.

The role of the Certified Dental Practice Management Administrator (CDPMA) is expanding, with many managers entering the field with strong business backgrounds from areas outside the dental office. Because of this interesting shift, the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) has found it necessary to reevaluate and update the CDPMA certification exam.

Front office staff often oversee financial and business administration, customer service, human resource matters, and other key office management responsibilities. Dental practice managers are an integral component of the professional dental team, and DANB believes it is important that the CDPMA exam accurately reflect the duties of this vital position.

Earlier this year, the DANB Board of Directors voted to discontinue administration of the current CDPMA exam, effective June 1, 2008. DANB believes that the current CDPMA exam may not reflect the practice of many, if not most, dental practice managers today.

"DANB takes great pride in its national dental assisting certification exam programs," said Cynthia C. Durley, DANB Executive Director. "By reevaluating the CDPMA credential, DANB is proactively working to assure the value and integrity of the CDPMA credential."

The current CDPMA credential is not affected by this change. CDPMAs can still annually renew their credential by meeting DANB recertification requirements (12 hours of continuing dental education, holding current DANB-accepted CPR certification, and submitting the renewal fee). After June 1, 2008, reinstatement of a lapsed CDPMA certification will be possible only if the credential has lapsed for less than one year.

Applications to take the current CDPMA exam will be accepted and processed if the application is postmarked or faxed by May 31, 2008. Applications received after May 31 will not be accepted.

DANB strives to ensure that its exams meet the highest standards of validity, reliability, and objectivity. Being accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), a third-party accrediting body, verifies that DANB certification programs are legally defensible. Additionally, DANB is the steward of the only national certification recognized by the American Dental Association. "We take that responsibility very seriously," DANB COO Liz Koch said, adding that reevaluating the CDPMA exam demonstrates DANB's commitment to upholding psychometric standards.

Later this year, DANB committees and staff will begin a full-fledged review of the CDPMA credential. DANB has already convened focus groups of representatives from the American Dental Assistants Association, and the American Association of Dental Office Managers, many who hold the CDPMA credential and are actively employed as dental office managers. Based on the findings of these focus groups, DANB will determine if a follow-up survey should be the next step in the reevaluation process. If DANB decides to move forward, a new job analysis for the CDPMA program would then be developed based on the survey results.

"The decision by the DANB Board to take this broad step with the CDPMA credential is a reflection of DANB's commitment to excellence and protecting the respect and reputation of the CDPMA credential," Durley said. "We appreciate the support of our certificants and affiliated organizations during this period of transition for the CDPMA credential."

If you have any questions about renewal of your CDPMA, or any comments you would like to share, please contact Liz Koch at 1-800-FOR-DANB, extension 414.