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NCCPA Certification
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NCCPA Guidelines for Recertification 

Initial Certification

If you graduate from a Physician Assistant Program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) or its predecessors, you can take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) for certification. The multiple-choice exam assesses basic medical and surgical knowledge. You will need to submit an application and payment in advance and can choose from over 200 testing sites.

 

After passing the PANCE exam, physician assistants are issued NCCPA certification and can use the PA-C designation until the certification expiration date (approximately two years).

Current Certification Maintenance (For PAs Who Certify or Re-certify before 2014)

The six-year certification maintenance cycle is divided into three two-year periods. During every two-year period, PA-C designees must earn and log a minimum of 100 credits of CME and submit a certification maintenance fee to NCCPA by December 31st of their certification expiration year. Or you can save $50 by submitting your CME credits and fee by June 30 of your certification expiration year. (The 2011-2013 cycle is the last cycle the discount will be available.)

 

You can begin earning CME credits on May 1st of your certification cycle year and must finish earning them by December 31st of the year your certification expires. The only exception to this policy is for first-time loggers.

 

By the end of the sixth year of the certification maintenance cycle, PA-C designees must have also passed a recertification exam. Offered at testing centers throughout the U.S., the multiple choice Physician Assistant National Re-certifying Exam (PANRE) is designed to assess general medical and surgical knowledge.

 

PAs who fail to maintain their certification must take and pass PANCE or PANRE to regain it. (Other eligibility requirements will apply.)

 

New Certification Requirements (For PAs Certifying or Re-certify Beginning in 2014)

 

Beginning in 2014, certified physician assistants will transition to a 10-year certification maintenance cycle, a change from the current six-year certification maintenance and retesting requirement that has been in effect since recertification was first introduced in 1981.

 

PAs who earn initial certification or who regain certification by passing an exam in 2014 will begin a 10-year cycle.

PAs whose current six-year certification maintenance cycle (recertification cycle) ends in 2014 will be the first currently certified PAs to move to the new certification maintenance process; those are PAs who must pass PANRE in their fifth year (2013) or their sixth year (2014). They will be able to begin earning and logging CME credits under the new process on May 1, 2014.

 

Others will transition to the new 10-year cycle over the following five years as they complete their final six-year certification maintenance cycle.

 

LOG ONTO THE NCCPA WEBSITE TO FIND OUT WHEN YOU WILL TRANSITION TO THE NEW REQUIREMENTS.

 

Under the new certification maintenance, there are two major changes:

  • The recertification exam requirement will be extended to every 10 years.
  • PAs will still have to earn 100 CME credits every two years, but two new categories will be added called self-assessment and performance improvement CME (PI-CME). Within the 50 credits required for Category 1, 20 of them will have to be earned via a self-assessment or PI-CME activity.

 

In every two-year CME cycle PAs can earn a combination of PI-CME and self-assessment credit, or just concentrate on one of those activities. However, at the end of eight years (four two-year CME cycles) PAs must have earned at least 40 Category 1 CME credits through self-assessment and at least 40 Category 1 CME credits through PI-CME activities. There are no self-assessment or PI-CME requirements in the fifth CME cycle (years 9 and 10). During the fifth CME cycle PAs only need to earn 50 traditional Category 1 CME and 50 Category 2 CME.

 

What is Performance Improvement CME?

 

PI-CME is active learning and the application of learning to improve your practice. This can be done in partnership with your supervising physician and others in your practice; everyone can work on and get credit for PI-CME together. PI-CME involves a three-step process:

 

  • Compare some aspect of practice to national benchmarks, performance guidelines or other established evidence-based metric or standard.
  • Based on the comparison, develop and implement a plan for improvement in that area.
  • Evaluate the impact of the improvement effort by comparing the results of the original comparison with the new results or outcomes.

 

What is Self Assessment CME?

 

Unlike traditional lecture-learner CME sessions in which the PA is a passive participant, self-assessment CME activities involve a more active process of conducting a systematic review of one's performance, knowledge base or skill set. Most board-certified physicians are now completing this type of activity as part of their own maintenance of certification process, and many of the self-assessment programs offered by their certification boards are also available to PAs.

 

Some information from this page was obtained from the NCCPA and AAPA websites. 

 

More information will continue to become available regarding these changes, and SCAPA will update our website accordingly so please check in with us frequently.


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