June 25th Response to NCCPA about next steps for potential changes to the PA recertification process

We were surprised to read in NCCPA’s June 17 newsletter that it considers AAPA’s opposition to the recertification proposal to be “unfounded” and a “distraction.” It is neither. Our organization, which represents the nation’s 108,000 hard-working PAs, wants NCCPA’s proposal to be evidence based. Moreover, our House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly in May to oppose NCCPA’s latest proposal and its direction. It is AAPA’s job to let NCCPA know.

NCCPA’s proposal would require PAs to take additional, new exams to keep their certifications. This isn’t a new idea, but it is a controversial one. Other medical professions either don’t have or are now in the process of rejecting it as burdensome and unnecessary.

The NCCPA plan would include a proctored, closed-book exam in a specialty as well as periodic take-home exams over the 10-year recertification cycle. AAPA delegates agreed that these exams would needlessly take valuable time away from patients and discourage PAs from staying in the profession, which already is stressed by undersupply and high demand. In addition, NCCPA’s plan for continuous exams would regularly put every PA’s license at risk in 20 states.

PAs are currently subject to some of the most rigorous requirements in the medical profession. They must be licensed in their states in order to practice. They must graduate from an accredited PA program and pass a certification exam administered by NCCPA. In order to maintain their licenses, they must, among other requirements, complete 100 credit hours of continuing medical education every two years.

AAPA stands firmly with other medical professions against recertification testing. Neither NPs nor pharmacists are required to retest. Even the American Medical Association voted in June to oppose mandatory specialty recertification exams and has called on certifying boards to immediately end such “high stakes” tests. At least 19 state medical societies have adopted similar resolutions that oppose such maintenance-of-certification exams.

To repeat, whatever recertification proposal NCCPA eventually comes up with, it must be evidence based. AAPA looks forward to working collegially with NCCPA to develop an alternative model that protects the safety of our patients and meets the needs of PAs in all practice settings.