SAN ANTONIO — The American Academy of PAs House of Delegates (HOD) has expressed its opposition to the National Commission on Certification of PAs (NCCPA) proposed changes to the PA recertification process.

On the final day of the HOD 2016 meeting, which took place at the annual meeting of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA), the delegates voted to pass the AAPA Board-submitted resolution (B-01) “Elimination of High Stakes Recertification Testing for PAs.” Two additional resolutions were passed – one endorsing the Federation of State Medical Boards’ maintenance of licensure principles, and the other urging the NCCPA to maintain its current recertification examination process.

The HOD decision follows several months of discussion between AAPA and NCCPA regarding recertification concerns. The proposed changes were announced in November 2015. Public comment on this issue had been scheduled to close on June 15; in February, the NCCPA agreed to postpone this date to allow the HOD to debate the issue and take a position.

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“We believe that the balanced information and resources we have proactively and consistently provided about the proposal have resulted in an educated and collegial conversation on this important matter among PAs across the country, and that the HOD appropriately reflected the views of its constituents during deliberations,” said AAPA president Jeffrey Katz, PA-C, DFAAPA.

The AAPA opposition to the NCCPA proposal surrounds concerns that the new model – including a proctored, closed-book exam in one of 10 to 12 specialty areas, in addition to periodic take-home exams throughout the 10-year recertification cycle – would limit the PA’s clinical flexibility as well as detract from patients’ access to care as PAs remove themselves from their practice to study for and take the exams.

“It is the view of the Board that these proposed requirements, particularly when coupled with the CME requirements already in place for PAs, are unnecessary and potentially harmful to patients and PAs,” said AAPA Board member William T. Reynolds, Jr., MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA.

The resolution passed by the HOD included the following 6 statements of AAPA policy:

  1. AAPA supports assessing general medical knowledge for initial certification and licensing of PAs.
  2. AAPA supports the use of evidence-based alternatives to testing for maintenance of certification.
  3. AAPA opposes any requirement that PAs take a closed-book, proctored exam in a specialty area for maintenance of certification.
  4. AAPA opposes any requirement that PAs take multiple examinations during a 10-year recertification cycle.
  5. AAPA supports uncoupling maintenance of certification requirements from maintenance of license and prescribing privileges in state laws
  6. AAPA urges NCCPA and the NCCPA Foundation to undertake rigorous and replicable research to determine the relationship, if any, between taking the NCCPA recertification test and patient outcomes, safety, and satisfaction.

The AAPA has pledged continued close monitoring of NCCPA’s actions on this issue and advocacy against the adoption of the proposed recertification changes; AAPA is committed to protecting patient access to medical care and the flexibility of the PA profession.


  1. HOD endorses AAPA board’s principles on NCCPA’s proposed recertification requirements [press release]. Presented at: 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA); May 14-18, 2016; San Antonio, TX.