FAQs

PANCE Questions

Q. How do I become eligible to take PANCE?

A. Graduate from a PA program accredited by ARC-PA or one of its predecessors. Today, there's no other way to gain PANCE eligibility.

Q. What happens if I don't pass my exam?

A. You can take PANCE once in a 90-day period or three times a year, whichever is fewer - this applies to all applicants.

Individuals who have never been certified and who graduated from an ARC-PA accredited physician assistant program on or after January 1, 2003, will be eligible to take PANCE for up to six years after completing the requirements for graduation from that program. During that six-year period, the examination may be taken a maximum of six times. When either the six attempts or six years is exhausted, whichever occurs sooner, the individual loses eligibility to take PANCE. The only way to establish new eligibility to take PANCE is to enter into and complete an unabridged ARC-PA accredited physician assistant educational program.

Q. How long must I wait to retake any single examination?

A.  There is a 90-day waiting period between retakes of the same examination.

Q. What do I need to do to have a letter verifying my eligibility for the exam sent to my state board so I can get my temporary license?

A. To request an eligibility letter, sign in to your personal record and choose Credentialing Info Release from the left-hand menu bar, email us your request (including your name, NCCPA ID number and to whom it should be sent) or fax or mail your request.

Q. How do I set up my exam time?

A. After your application is processed, you'll receive an exam acknowledgement from NCCPA within 3-5 business days with instructions on how to schedule your exam.

Q. Are temperatures given in Celsius or Fahrenheit? Or both?

A. They are given in both.

Q. When lab values are given are the normal ranges of lab values given as well?

A. Yes, the normal labs value for healthy adults comes up in a separate screen when the examinee clicks “Lab Values”.

Q. Are generic or brand names of drugs used on the exam?

A. The generic name of a drug is always provided. The trade name is provided in parenthesis after the generic name of the drug only if it is deemed necessary by NCCPA.

Q. Are K questions used on the exam?

A. No, K questions are no longer on the exam.

Q. When will I receive my score?

A. NCCPA will post your exam results in your personal certification record as soon as we receive the results (approximately two weeks after your test date.) We'll notify you by e-mail when the results are received.

Q. If I have a medical degree, can I get certified as a PA without graduating from a PA program?

A. No. You must graduate from a PA program accredited by ARC-PA or one of its predecessors.

**Even if you have earned a medical degree from another country, you must still graduate from an accredited PA program to take PANCE.

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CME Questions

Q. When are my CME credits due?

A. Your CME credits should be earned and logged by December 31 of your certification expiration year along with submitting the $130 certification maintenance fee. Sign in to your personal certification record to view any outstanding requirements and upcoming deadlines.

Q. How much does it cost to log CME?

A. The certification maintenance fee is $130 if you earn and log your CME credits by December 31 of your certification expiration year. (The $50 discount is no longer available. The 2011-2013 cycle was the last cycle the discount was available.)

Q. How do I log my CME?

A. Sign in to your personal certification record, and click the "Log New CME" link on the screen.

Q. What are the activity start and end dates?

A. The activity start and end dates are the dates the provider list on documentation as the date the activity began and ended.

Q. How do I account for partial credits (i.e., a 1.5 credit seminar)?

A. Simply log the exact number of credits earned according to your certificate with up to two decimal places (i.e., 1.75, 2.5, etc).

Q. Do I have to log each activity that has same sponsor and provider separately?

A. No, you can log activities that have the same sponsor and provider as one activity. You will enter a date range, the total amount of credits earned through the provider and a general activity title.

Q. Can I get Category 1 CME credit for certification programs like BLS, ACLS, PALS, ATLS, etc.?

A. You can earn Category 1 credit for certain certification programs. View a complete list of certification programs.

Q. What is the maximum number of credits 1 can earn for teaching certification programs like BLS, ACLS, etc.?

A. The maximum number of Category 1 credits that you can earn as an instructor is included in the list of certification programs. However, you may only log those instructor credits once each year (or twice per logging cycle) regardless of how many times you actually teach the course. Additional, duplicative instructing activities may be logged for Category 2 credit based on the number of hours spent preparing for and teaching the course.

Q. I just completed an ATLS course but didn't receive a card. What documentation would I need to provide NCCPA if I am audited?

A. The ATLS course does count for Category 1 (Preapproved) CME credit even though you did not receive a card or certificate for completing the course. You should have received a "letter of audit" indicating that you attended the course. If you are audited by NCCPA, the letter of audit (with a date listed) from the CME provider will be sufficient documentation of the activity.

Q. Can I earn Category 1 or Category 2 CME credits for presenting lectures to PA students or other medical professionals if I'm not a program faculty member?

A. You can earn Category 1 credit for delivering lectures to PA students or other medical professionals if the attendees receive documentation that the activity is approved for Category 1 credit. If the lecture was not preapproved for Category 1 credit, you can log time spent preparing for and delivering the lecture as Category 2 credit. Category 2 CME is earned on an hour-for-hour basis.

Q. How many Category 2 credits can I count for precepting PA students? Students from other professions? What about journal reading?

A. There are no maximums on the number of credits that you can earn for any Category 2 activity. All Category 2 credits are earned on an hour-for-hour basis.

Q. Can I earn Category 2 credits for lobbying activities on behalf of the PA profession?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I earn CME credit for any type of committee work performed for PA or other healthcare organizations?

A. Category 2 CME is any medically related activity that enhances the role of a PA (including journal reading). If you serve on committees at the local, state or national level that meet those qualifications, you may log the time you spend on committee work for Category 2 credit.

Q. I have met my requirements for the current CME cycle. Can I begin earning and logging credits for the next cycle?

A. CME earning windows always open on May 1. You can begin earning and logging CME credits for your next cycle on May 1 during the certification expiration year of your current cycle.

Q. I'm an AAPA member. Do I have to pay the certification maintenance (CME logging) fee?

A. Yes. We charge for our services on an a la carte basis. That way, you pay for the services you use but your fees aren't subsidizing the cost of services you're not using. The certification maintenance fee covers the cost of all NCCPA's work associated with CME logging.

Q. Do I have to pay the CME logging fee the first time I enter any credits?

A. No, you can pay the CME logging fee at any time during the logging cycle.

Q. How can I get a print-out of the CME I've logged?

A. Just sign in to your personal certification record, and click on the "CME History " link.

Q. How long do I need to keep my Category 1 CME documentation?

A. You should keep your Category 1 CME documentation for your current CME cycle and your last CME cycle. For example, if you are currently on a 2011-2013 CME cycle you would need to keep that documentation and the 2009-2011 CME cycle documentation. We do not audit Category 2 CME. This is the policy for NCCPA, not the state medical boards. You will need to check with your state medical board regarding their auditing requirements.

Q. What do I need to submit as documentation, if I'm selected for an audit, to support the Category 1 CME credits logged?

A. Acceptable supporting documentation includes certificates received upon completion of an activity from the CME provider, a hospital-generated list of programs attended, or written verification of attendance or credits earned from the provider of a CME activity. Other documentation may be considered at the discretion of NCCPA. Acceptable documentation for Category 1 credits should state that the activity has been approved by one of our four CME sponsors (AMA, AAPA, AAFP, AOA, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), or the Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada (PACCC)). There should also be a statement indicating the number of Category 1 credits awarded for the individual activity. If the documentation you have for a Category 1 activity does not state this information, the activity cannot be considered Category 1 CME.

Q. What is considered acceptable documentation for certificate programs like BLS, ACLS or PALS?

A. NCCPA will accept a copy of the card you received, a certificate of attendance or written verification of attendance or credits earned from the provider of the certificate program.

Q. What if my documentation states the credits earned for an activity are "Contact" hours or "CEU" credit?

A. This means the activity is not approved for Category 1 credit and if this activity has been logged as Category 1, NCCPA will not be able to verify the credits logged for this activity, unless the activity is an approved certification program.

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Certification Maintenance Process Changes

Q. What are the new requirements?

A. The new 10-year certification maintenance cycle will include five, two-year CME cycles. During the first four CME cycles, you'll need to earn 20 Category 1 CME credits through self-assessment CME and/or performance improvement CME (PI-CME). That's not 20 additional credits, though. It will be part of the 50 Category 1 CME credits you are already accustomed to earning to maintain certification. During the fifth and final CME cycle, the CME requirements are less structured: 100 credits including 50 Category 1 credits, earned however you like. That will give you more flexibility when preparing for PANRE, which under this new process you'll be taking every 10 years instead of every six.

Q. When do the changes go into effect?

A. PAs will transition to the new process as their six-year certification maintenance cycle ends beginning in 2014. Sign in to your Personal Certification Record for a message regarding the timing of your transition to the new certification maintenance cycle.

Q. How does this change PANRE?

A. You'll be taking PANRE every 10 years instead of every six years. Other than that, there are no changes currently planned for PANRE.

Q. If I take PANRE a year early in 2013 but my sixth year is 2014, will I recertify again in 6 years or 10 years?

A. Taking PANRE a year early doesn't change your certification maintenance cycle, so you would transition to the 10-year cycle once your certification is updated in 2014 and would be due to pass PANRE again in 2024.

Q. How does this affect the cost of certification maintenance?

A. It really doesn't affect cost much at all. NCCPA's Board just reviewed fees and costs with this new process in mind. The only change we are making is the elimination of the discount for early CME logging. Certification maintenance fees will remain $130 per two-year CME cycle, and PANRE fees are holding steady at $350.

As far as the cost of the CME itself, PAs who have been meeting all their CME requirements through free CME opportunities will likely have to begin spending some money. It may not be much, however. Many of the self-assessment and PI-CME opportunities out there today are very low cost. For example, the 20-credit PI-CME requirement can be met for as little as $25. Keep in mind, too, that these types of CME activities generally don't require travel; they are programs you complete in your practice and online. So many PAs may find that their CME expenses actually come down under this new process.

Q. Why is NCCPA making these changes?

A. The short answer is that after more than 30 years of basically the same certification maintenance process, we felt that we could improve things to more directly impact patient care while engaging certified PAs in more meaningful activities that encompass a broader range of PA competencies. We think that engaging in the thoughtful reflection that self-assessment evokes will help busy PAs to sometimes make more informed decisions about how they spend their limited CME time and dollars. We believe that taking time to review an aspect of practice, to identify an opportunity to improve it and then to make that change will have a real impact on your practice and – in many cases – your patients’ health.

The longer answer is that this started in 2003, when NCCPA launched an initiative to define PA competencies. In 2005, NCCPA, AAPA, PAEA and ARC-PA endorsed a document entitled Competencies for the PA Profession that had been developed cooperatively by those four organizations over a two-year period. The purpose of the Competencies document, as noted in its introduction, is “to communicate to the PA profession and the public a set of competencies that all physician assistants regardless of specialty or setting are expected to acquire and maintain throughout their careers.” It continues, “This document serves as a map for the individual PA, the physician-PA team and organizations that are committed to promoting the development and maintenance of these professional competencies among physician assistants.”

The document describes six categories of areas in which PAs should demonstrate competencies: medical knowledge, patient care, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, systems-based practice, and practice-based learning and improvement.

Since the adoption of the Competencies document in 2005, NCCPA has been considering whether and how to incorporate a broader range of the competencies described in that document into the PA certification maintenance process. Over the last several years, we considered a wide range of possibilities, ultimately focusing most closely on physician boards’ implementation of the maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements mandated in 2000 by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The ABMS MOC is a four-part model that includes requirements in the categories of (1) licensure and professional standing, (2) lifelong learning and self assessment, (3) cognitive expertise, and (4) practice-based improvement.

Drawing both from what the physician boards implemented and the lessons they learned during the process, NCCPA's Certification Committee—composed of certified PAs and physicians—developed recommendations that were shared with a number of national organizations and all certified PAs for comment. Discussions then continued for almost two more years during which one new concept was pilot tested and additional information was collected and considered. Today, NCCPA leaders believe that we have developed a process that will facilitate the process of lifelong learning and improvement in a way that benefits PAs and patients.

Q. What is “self-assessment CME”?

A. 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.

Q. What is Performance Improvement CME (PI-CME)?

A. PI-CME is active learning and the application of learning to improve your practice. And 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:

 1. Compare some aspect of practice to national benchmarks, performance guidelines or other established evidence-based metric or standard.

 2. Based on the comparison, develop and implement a plan for improvement in that area.

 3. Evaluate the impact of the improvement effort by comparing the results of the original comparison with the new results or outcomes.

Q. Will I be required to do a performance improvement “project?”

A. That depends on what you mean by “project.” While NCCPA was initially considering a less structured performance improvement requirement that would have required PAs to design and implement their own improvement project, since then the concept of PI-CME has emerged as a simpler way to accomplish the same goal. PI-CME will generally involve the review of a sample of patient charts, implementation of some change in your practice, and then a follow-up review of a sample of charts to assess the impact of the change. It will be structured; you will not have to conceptualize and design a unique improvement project and find ways to measure impact. You will be able to focus your time on the actual effort of making a positive change in your practice.

Q. How do I know if a self-assessment or PI-CME activity will satisfy the new requirements?

A. In order for a PA to claim specific self-assessment and/or PI-CME credit, the activities have to be approved by AAPA. For a complete list of activities, click here. AAPA will continue to add more activities as they are identified and approved.

Q. I'm already involved in quality improvement where I practice. Will that count?

A. That's a question that we are still working to answer. Ideally, it would. The challenge will be developing clear guidelines that can easily be consistently applied to projects that are done outside of the framework of established PI-CME programs. We are optimistic that there will be a positive answer for this. To help us get there, we have asked AAPA to offer recommendations, which we expect to receive and consider later this year.

Q. How will I do performance improvement CME if I'm not in clinical practice?

A. From the beginning of NCCPA's discussions about potential changes to the certification maintenance process, leaders have been cognizant of the need to ensure that the non-practicing PA can continue to maintain certification. Physician organizations have addressed this in a variety of ways. To help us determine the most appropriate way for us to address the issue, we have asked AAPA to offer recommendations, which we expect to receive and consider later this year. In addition, PAEA has established a Workgroup to develop programs for PA educators (and other non-practicing PAs), which will assist in meeting both the PI and self-assessment requirements of the new certification maintenance process.

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CME Audit Questions

Q. Why does the NCCPA audit CME credits?

A. To ensure the accuracy and professionalism of CME logging and to strengthen the value of the PA-C, NCCPA randomly audits the Category 1 CME credits of certified PAs. To complete the CME audit, randomly selected PAs must submit supporting documentation for at least 50 Category 1 credits logged during the cycle for which they are being audited.

Q. Why was I selected for the CME audit?

A. PAs being audited are selected by a completely random process. There is nothing that you did or didn't do that "caused" you to be selected for the audit.

Q. How often does NCCPA audit PAs?

A. NCCPA audits PAs for a two-year certification maintenance cycle. PAs chosen to be audited will be notified during the year after the PAs previous cycle has ended. A PA could be selected for the audit for up to an entire year after their previous cycle has ended. It is very important for PAs to keep their Category 1 documentation for at least one full year after their cycle has ended. For example: PAs who were audited for the 2010-2012 cycle are notified in 2013.

Q. How will I know that I have been randomly selected for the NCCPA CME Audit?

A. PAs selected for the CME audit will be notified by postal mail and by email.

Q. How will I know which Category 1 activities I need to submit documentation for?

A. NCCPA will provide you with a CME Audit Transcript that will list all Category 1 activities logged for the cycle being audited. This transcript will be included in the emailed and mailed notifications sent to you.

Q. Once I have been chosen to be audited how long will I have to submit the required Category 1 documentation?

A. Six weeks is the standard amount of time allotted to submit your documentation for the audit. Your exact deadline will be listed in both the e-mailed and mailed notification correspondence sent to you and will be posted on your "My Record" page, which you can access by signing in to your personal certification record at our Web site, www.nccpa.net.

Q. What if I need more time to submit my supporting documentation?

A. If you have a severe and extenuating circumstance which has prohibited you from providing the requested documentation in support of your Category 1 credits, you may request an extension to submit your documentation. NCCPA can grant a one-time only 30-day extension of your original audit deadline. Extensions for longer periods of time cannot be granted. To request an extension of your audit deadline, please submit a written request within the six-week period given to respond to the audit explaining your situation and include any supporting documentation you may have concerning your severe and extenuating circumstance. Requests must be received before the six-week deadline passes. This request can be mailed (12000 Findley Road, Suite 100, Johns Creek, GA 30097), faxed (678.417.8135) or emailed to audit@nccpa.net. Be sure to include your name and NCCPA identification number on the request.

Q. If I am granted the one-time 30-day extension to submit the documentation for the audit, how will I be notified?

A. If NCCPA has a valid e-mail address on record, you will receive an official letter via email. If we do not have a valid e-mail address on record, an official letter will be sent via postal mail to the mailing address we have on record for you. The letter will state your new audit deadline date.

Q. What do I need to submit as documentation to support the Category 1 CME credits logged?

A. Acceptable supporting documentation includes certificates received upon completion of an activity from the CME provider, a hospital-generated list of programs attended, or written verification of attendance or credits earned from the provider of a CME activity. Other documentation may be considered at the discretion of NCCPA. Acceptable documentation for Category 1 credits should state that the activity has been approved by one of our four CME sponsors (AMA, AAPA, AAFP, AOA, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), or the Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada (PACCC)). There should also be a statement indicating the number of Category 1 credits awarded for the individual activity. If the documentation you have for a Category 1 activity does not state this information, the activity cannot be considered Category 1 CME.

Q. What is considered acceptable documentation for certificate programs like BLS, ACLS or PALS?

A. NCCPA will accept a copy of the card you received, a certificate of attendance or written verification of attendance or credits earned from the provider of the certificate program.

Q. What if my documentation states the credits earned for an activity are "Contact" hours or "CEU" credit?

A. This means the activity is not approved for Category 1 credit and if this activity has been logged as Category I1 NCCPA will not be able to verify the credits logged for this activity, unless the activity is an approved certification program.

Q. On my CME Audit Transcript, some credits are listed as "confirmed." What are "confirmed" credits?

A. "Confirmed" credits are Category 1 credits that NCCPA has received documentation for or Category 1 credits logged through the Conference Logging System. Since these credits have already been confirmed as Category 1, no additional supporting documentation is required.

Q. How do I submit my documentation?

A. Supporting documentation can be mailed (12000 Findley Road, Suite 100, Johns Creek, GA 30097), faxed (678.417.8135) or emailed to audit@nccpa.net. Be sure to include your name and NCCPA identification number on all materials.

Q. Once NCCPA has received my documentation for the audit, how long does it take for the audit process to be completed?

A. It takes approximately 7-10 business days for NCCPA to complete an audit. Once your documentation has been reviewed, if we cannot verify at least 50 Category 1 credits, we will notify you via e-mail (or telephone, if you do not have a valid e-mail address on record). NOTE: It is strictly the PA's responsibility to check the status of their audit to ensure NCCPA has received the appropriate documentation.

Q. How can I check on the status of my audit?

A. Sign in to your personal certification record at www.nccpa.net and click on "CME Audit" in the left-hand menu bar and you will be taken to your "Personal Audit Record" page where you can view the status of your audit, as well as other important details pertaining to your audit.

Q. If I cannot show documentation for at least 50 of the Category 1 credits I logged for the cycle I am being audited for, can I submit additional Category 1 CME credits I have earned in order to meet the audit requirements?

A. Yes. Additional Category 1 CME credits can be submitted to meet the audit requirements as long as the credits have not been previously logged to meet certification maintenance requirements and the credits were earned within the earning window of the cycle that is being audited. Acceptable documentation will have to be submitted in order to have these credits applied to the audited cycle.

Q. What happens if I can't provide documentation for at least 50 of my Category 1 credits?

A. PAs who are unable to submit supporting documentation for at least 50 Category 1 credits will fail the CME audit and will automatically be audited for their new cycle.

Q. How will I be notified of the outcome of my CME Audit?

A. NCCPA will send an official e-mail to you once your audit has been completed. If we do not have a valid e-mail address, an official letter will be mailed to the address we have on record for you.

Q. If I fail my initial CME audit, will I lose my certification?

A. No.

Q. What happens if I fail my initial CME audit and I am being audited for my new cycle?

A. Beginning with the 2006-2008 CME logging cycle, PAs who do not pass the initial audit must follow the procedures below to complete the second CME audit:

  • All CME credits for the second audit cycle must be logged on paper re-audit logging forms (online logging will not be an option for PAs who are in their second audit).
  • Acceptable documentation must be submitted for all Category 1 credits listed on their audit logging form before the credits can be entered in the PA's logging record.
  • PAs must earn and log additional Category 1 credits for those that could not be verified in the initial audit (example: If 45 Category 1 credits were verified in the first audit cycle, then at least 55 Category 1 credits must be logged for the second audit cycle – 50 Category 1 credits that are required for the regular certification maintenance cycle plus the 5 Category 1 credits that could not be verified in the first audit).
  • PAs will have to pay a $100 re-audit fee.
  • Once the second audit is passed, the PA will be audited at least one time within their next three certification maintenance cycles.

Q. What is the CME Audit Detail Report?

A. The CME Audit Detail Report is your audit transcript that shows which Category 1 credits have been verified by NCCPA and any discrepancies in activity information that was logged ( i.e., incorrect sponsor, incorrect provider, incorrect activity name and/or date).

Q. What is the CME Post Audit Final Transcript?

A. The CME Post Audit Final Transcript reflects the final outcome of the CME audit and becomes the current transcript on record for a PA for the audited cycle.

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Recertification Questions

Q. When do I recertify?

A. For the best answer to this question, sign in and view your personal certification record. But generally speaking, you need to pass the recertification exam every six years, with the option to take it a year early.

Q. How do I apply for the exam?

A. You can apply for the recertification exam via our online application. Just sign in and click the "View details about your recertification status" link in the Exam Notes box of your My Record page.

Q. How do I set up my PANRE exam time?

A. After your application is processed, you'll receive an exam acknowledgement from NCCPA within 3-5 business days with instructions on how to schedule your exam.

Q. Are temperatures given in Celsius or Fahrenheit? Or both?

A. They are given in both.

Q. When lab values are given are the normal ranges of lab values given as well?

A. Yes, the normal labs value for healthy adults comes up in a separate screen when the examinee clicks “Lab Values”.

Q. Are generic or brand names of drugs used on the exam?

A. The generic name of a drug is always provided. The trade name is provided in parenthesis after the generic name of the drug only if it is deemed necessary by NCCPA.

Q. Are K questions used on the exam?

A. No, K questions are no longer on the exam.

Q. What happens if I don't pass the exam?

A. You must pass by the end of the sixth year, but you can take the test in years 5 and 6 and have up to four attempts (two total per year) to test and pass.

Q. How long must I wait to retake any single examination?

A.  There is a 90-day waiting period between retakes of the same examination, whether testing for recertification or to regain certification.

Q. Do I have to submit my CME before I test?

A. No. However, any past due fees must be paid before you can test.

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Practice-Focused PANRE Questions

Q. What is included in the adult medicine and surgery areas of the exam?

A. Each exam is built to the same content blueprint. For the adult medicine and surgery practice-focused exams, 60% of the exam will cover the same content as always, the remaining 40% will be focused in either adult medicine or surgery but will still follow the same content blueprint.

Q. Will there be any pediatric questions on the adult medicine or surgery practice-focus exams?

A. Since 60% of the exams will cover the same content as always, pediatric questions may be included. If the adult medicine is chosen for the additional 40% of the exam, no additional pediatrics questions will be added. There could be additional pediatric questions that deal with surgery on the surgery practiced focused exam.

Q. Has the content blueprint changed for the new practice-focused PANRE?

A. No, the content blueprint is the same for each exam.

Q. Is there a content blueprint booklet specific for the practice-focused exams?

A. No, each exam is built to the same content blueprint so we will not have a different content blueprint for the practice-focused PANRE.

Q. Does NCCPA plan to develop Practice Exams that are specific to the content of the practice-focused exams?

A. Practice Exams specifically dealing with adult medicine and surgery will not be developed.

Q. Will the current PANRE Practice Exam accurately access PAs knowledge of the general and practice-focused areas?

A. Yes, since the Practice Exam and all PANRE options are based on the same content blueprint.

Q. What is the difference between the primary care, surgery and adult medicine PANRE?

A. The questions on PANRE - no matter which focus area you choose - are all still generalist questions. Choosing the primary care option gives you the same PANRE we've always offered. For those who choose adult medicine or surgery, 60% of the exam will be generalist questions (the PANRE as it has always been) and the other 40%, while still meeting the content blueprint, will be generalist questions focused in either adult medicine or surgery.

Q. Will the practice-focused PANRE - adult medicine include women's health questions (i.e GYN, OB)?

A. The adult medicine option will include questions that meet the content blueprint, however, 40% will be focused only in adult medicine.

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Practice Exam Questions

Q. Who can take a Practice Exam?

A. The Practice Exams are designed for PAs who are eligible for an NCCPA examination. PAs should use the practice exam as a tool to assess their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to familiarize themselves with the types of questions they'll see on the actual certifying examinations.

Q. Will a Practice Exam show how me how I'll do on the PANCE or PANRE?

A. The NCCPA Practice Exam is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to predict your performance on PANCE or PANRE, and you should not interpret your results as a prediction of PANCE or PANRE performance. The results may assist you in identifying possible strengths or weaknesses in the various content areas that make up the PANCE and PANRE blueprints.  The content blueprint for PANCE or PANRE is used as a guideline when items are selected for the Practice Exams.  However, because the Practice Exam has fewer items than PANCE and PANRE, the content areas contain a smaller number of items than on PANCE and PANRE.  For example, approximately 3% of the PANCE content blueprint is comprised of hematology questions.  Thus, on the 120-question Practice Exam, there would be only 3 to 4 questions in this content area.  It is important to keep in mind that  performance on a small number of items is less reliable than with a larger number of items.  Your performance is based on the limited number of items sampled in the Practice Exam and should not be interpreted as a predictor of actual performance on PANCE or PANRE.

Q. What types of content do the Practice Exams cover?

A. The content of the Practice Exams are based on the content blueprint for PANCE and PANRE. However, there may be some differences in the exact percentages covered in the content areas on the specific Practice Exam form.

Q. What is the format of the Practice Exam?

A. Each Practice Exam includes 120 multiple-choice questions divided into two sections of 60 questions each. PAs can choose time intervals based on their needs. Without special accommodations, PAs have 60 minutes to complete each section for a total of two hours of testing time. With the special accommodations option, PAs can choose to do the sections in two 90-minute or two 120-minute sections. PAs should choose the same timing option they anticipate will be used during the actual PANCE or PANRE exam.

Q. How much time is allotted to answer the items on a Practice Exam?

A. Like PANCE and PANRE, the Practice Exams provide approximately one minute per item, if special accommodations are not indicated. With special accommodations, the PA would have one and one-half or two minutes per question, dependent on the approved special accommodations.

Q. Are the Practice Exam items actually previously used items on PANCE and PANRE?

A. Yes, these are questions that were used on previous administrations of PANCE and PANRE. However, keep in mind that test questions used on Practice Exams will no longer appear on PANCE and PANRE.

Q. How much do the Practice Exams cost?

A. Each Practice Exam costs $35, which must be paid by credit card when you apply.

Q. How do I apply for a Practice Exam?

A. PAs can access the Practice Exam application online by signing in to their personal certification record 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once registered, PAs will have 180 days to complete the Practice Exam online.

Q. When can I first access the Practice Exam after I apply?

A. After you apply, you'll be able to immediately access the Practice Exam. You'll have 180 days to complete the Practice Exam.

Q. Are there special computer requirements needed to take a Practice Exam?

A. When you access the Practice Exam application from your personal certification record, you'll see a list of the system requirements. If you see a green check next to each requirement, your computer will support the Practice Exam program. If you see a red "X" next to any of the requirements, your computer, as it is currently configured, will not support the Practice Exam program; and we recommend you contact your system administrator. Note: MAC computers can be used with Mozilla Firefox.

Q. Do I have to finish the Practice Exam in one sitting?

A. No. Unlike the actual PANCE and PANRE, the Practice Exam allows you to stop working on the Practice Exam and return later. You will not lose any time; and when you log back into the Practice Exam, you'll be returned to the last question that you had previously accessed. All responses are saved when you access the next question, so taking a break will not cause you to lose any answers you've already entered.

Q. Are answers and/or explanations to the Practice Exam items available?

A. No. The Practice Exams are designed to provide participants with feedback about their relative strengths and weaknesses in the content areas on the exam. Specific information for why a particular answer is correct or incorrect is not provided.

Q. What kind of performance feedback will I receive?

A. As soon as you complete the Practice Exam, you'll receive a performance profile, which graphically displays your relative strengths and weaknesses in the content areas that make up the examination content blueprint.

Q. Can I view a sample performance profile?

A. If you registered for a Practice Exam after Jan. 1, 2014, click here to view a sample performance profile.

If you registered for a Practice Exam before 2014, click here to view a sample performance profile.

Q. Will my performance profile be released to anyone else?

A. No. Performance profiles are available only to participants.

Q. How long will my performance profile be available?

A. You'll always be able to access your performance profile from the Practice Exam overview page in your personal certification record.

Q. How many Practice Exams can I take?

A. PAs who are eligible to take an NCCPA examination may take as many Practice Exams as there are available, and may repurchase exams if they want to take them more than once.

Q. Can I review my Practice Exam?

A. Once your Practice Exam has been scored, you CANNOT review the questions or your answers. However, while you are working within each section, you can change answers or mark them for review. When you exit a section, your responses have been saved and submitted making your answers final. You can review and print your performance profile at any time after completing the Practice Exam.

Q. Can I get my money back if I'm unable to take the exam after applying for it?

A. Unfortunately, refunds will not be issued for a Practice Exam.

Q. What happens to my answers if I lose my Internet connection while taking the Practice Exam?

A. The system records all answers each time you access a question and provide an answer. If you are disconnected from the Internet or logged out of the Practice Exam program, you will re-start the Practice Exam on the same test question that was last seen when you sign back into the Practice Exam.

Q. Can I take the exam un-timed?

A. No. The Practice Exams are designed to mirror the testing environment and timing constraints of an actual exam. If you need to take a break during the Practice Exam, you have the convenience of being able to log out of the Practice Exam without losing any of your time. When you log back in, you have the same amount of time remaining to finish the block of questions. However, keep in mind that this is not the same for PANCE and PANRE. For the actual PANCE and PANRE, you are not able to take any breaks within a section of the test. If you anticipate qualifying for special accommodations, you are encouraged to take the Practice Exam with the appropriate special accommodations timing parameters.

Q. Can I print the Practice Exam?

A. No. The only part of the Practice Exam that you'll be able to print will be your performance profile that is available after completing the exam.

Q. Can I use time spent on the NCCPA Practice Exam for Category 1 CME credit?

A. Unfortunately, no. NCCPA's Practice Exams are not preapproved for Category 1 CME credit. However, the Practice Exam can be submitted for Category 2 CME credit.

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Specialty CAQs Questions

General Questions

Q. What is the benefit of earning a CAQ?

A. Earning a CAQ allows PAs to achieve recognition for their specialty experience, skills and knowledge. The CAQ offers PAs a credential to effectively document their specialty experience and expertise. Over time, we expect this will help PAs remain competitive in environments where credentials are increasingly important.

Q. Why was the name changed from specialty certification to CAQ?

A. The CAQ reflects the fact that PAs are grounded first in primary care or generalist practice, a base of training and knowledge that is augmented but not replaced through specialization. The CAQ is something that PAs earn above and beyond the PA-C, which remains the foundational credential for the PA profession.

Further, while NCCPA hopes that PAs practicing in specialties will choose to participate in the CAQ program, we wanted to take every measure possible to ensure that it was a voluntary credential. We believe the CAQ is less likely to trigger automatic changes in credentialing or privileging requirements in many hospital settings.

For more information please read the NCCPA article.

Q. Who selected these specialties and why?

A. The NCCPA Board of Directors chose the specialties to include in the initial roll out of the CAQ Program in 2011. The specialties included in the initial launch were selected based on information about the need for specialty credentials that NCCPA received from PAs practicing in these specialty areas and from leaders of the specialty organizations serving those PAs. We also considered a host of other factors, including the number of PAs practicing in the specialty, mobility trends into and out of the specialty, the criticality of the patient population served, and the degree to which the specialty is hospital-based.

Q. What CAQs are available?

A. PAs may register for a CAQ in the following specialties:

•  Cardiovascular/Thoracic Surgery
•  Emergency Medicine
•  Hospital Medicine
•  Nephrology
•  Orthopaedic Surgery
•  Pediatrics
•  Psychiatry

Q. How much does it cost to earn a CAQ?

A. Just $350. There are two fees associated with earning the CAQ. The $100 administrative fee is due when PAs submit their first non-exam requirement (specialty CME, experience, and procedures/patient cases). When they apply for the exam, they will need to submit the $250 exam fee. (Note: PAs who fail the exam and are still within the six-year eligibility period for completing their CAQ will only need to submit the exam application fee when retaking the exam.)

Q. Do I have to be certified to register for the CAQ?

A. Yes. Having a current PA-C status is one of the two basic eligibility requirements for earning and maintaining a CAQ. For additional information on all of these requirements, please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

Q. Can I pursue more than one specialty CAQ at once?

A. Yes, PAs can register for more than one specialty CAQ at a time. However, they must meet the specific requirements for each specialty CAQ.

Q. What are the eligibility requirements for the CAQ exams?

A. Before PAs can apply to take the CAQ exam, they must first meet the two basic eligibility requirements: valid unrestricted licensure and current PA-C status. In addition, they must also have completed the three other core requirements (specialty CME, experience, and procedures/patient cases). For additional information on all of these requirements, please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

Q. How long do I have to finish the CAQ process?

A. From the time PAs submit their $100 administrative fee and satisfy the first requirement, they have six years within which they must complete the CAQ process or begin anew. However, if they have been working in the specialty and are able to complete all of the non-exam requirements together, they may submit all of those requirements at once and then apply for the exam when the CAQ exam application period opens.

Q. If my PA-C is under disciplinary review, will that affect my CAQ registration?  If yes, how?

A. Yes. If PAs meet the PA-C and licensure requirements but are under disciplinary review by NCCPA, they will be allowed to participate in the CAQ process and will be allowed to apply and take the CAQ exam. However, the exam score, if applicable, will not be released and the CAQ credential, if applicable, will not be issued until a final decision has been made by NCCPA which satisfactorily resolves the disciplinary issue to NCCPA's satisfaction.

Please refer to the Eligibility and Temporary Eligibility sections of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program for more detailed information on this requirement.

Q. If I lose my PA-C or my license/government agency privileges will I lose my CAQ?

A. Yes. If a PA loses his/her valid unrestricted licensure or current PA-C or government agency privileges for any reason, he/she will lose any CAQ that has been achieved. Once the valid unrestricted licensure or current PA-C or government agency privileges has been restored, the PA must begin the CAQ process anew by meeting the eligibility requirements for the initial CAQ, including passing the CAQ examination.

Q. Can I request a letter to show that I'm working on earning my CAQ?

A. PAs will be able to print documentation of their progress from the CAQ Status section by signing in to their personal certification record at www.nccpa.net.

Q. If I lose my CAQ, can it be regained?

A. If a PA loses a CAQ for any reason, he/she must begin the CAQ process anew by meeting the eligibility requirements for the initial CAQ, including passing the CAQ examination.

Q. How long is my CAQ valid?

A. Upon successful completion of all requirements, PAs will be granted a CAQ that is valid for ten years, based on their continuing to meet the current PA-C and licensure requirements. The CAQ will expire on December 31 of the tenth year.

Q. Will the CAQ timeframe coincide with my PA-C?

A. The two processes are independent of each other. The only time a PA's initial ten-year cycle will coincide with the PA-C cycle is when the PA passes the CAQ exam during the tenth year of his or her PA-C cycle.

Q. How are PAs selected for an audit of their CAQ requirements?

A. As with the audit processes for the PA-C credential, PAs will be randomly selected for the CAQ audit.

Q. Could I be audited for my certification maintenance cycle and my CAQ requirements within the same cycle?

A. Since PAs are selected randomly for audits, it is possible for their PA-C certification maintenance requirements and CAQ requirements to be audited at the same time.

Q. Will I lose my money if I am considered ineligible for the CAQ?

A. If an applicant loses his or her eligibility for a CAQ or CAQ maintenance after submitting the respective application and fees or if, at any time, it is determined that a PA provided incorrect eligibility information on any NCCPA application, the PA shall forfeit all fees.

Q. If I start the CAQ process by paying the administrative fee and attesting to one of the requirements and then choose to be withdrawn from the process, will I receive a refund?

A. There is a 30-day refund policy if a PA chooses to withdraw from the CAQ process. If the PA's request to be withdrawn is received by NCCPA in writing within 30 days of submitting the fee, NCCPA will issue a full refund; if not, all fees paid to NCCPA for the CAQ will be forfeited.

Q. Once I complete all the requirements and obtain my CAQ, is there a credential/designation that I can use such as the PA-C?

A. Because the CAQ is a Certificate of Added Qualifications and not a certification, a designation such as PA-C will not be issued. However, the PA will be issued a certificate for display.

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State Licensure and Federal/Government Privileges

Q. What is the state licensure/government privilege requirement?

A. A PA must possess either (1) a valid, unrestricted license to practice as a PA in at least one jurisdiction in the United States or its territories or (2) unrestricted privileges to practice as a PA for a government agency. Further, if more than one PA license or government agency privilege is held, all of them must be valid and unrestricted. These requirements are described in greater detail in the eligibility section of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

Q. How many state licenses and/or government agency privileges do I need to submit?

A. PAs must submit the required information for any and all state licenses and/or government agency privileges that they hold. Further, if they have more than one PA license or government agency privilege, all of them must be valid and unrestricted. If NCCPA determines that a PA has submitted incomplete or inaccurate information regarding state licenses and/or government agency privilege, the PA may be subject to disciplinary review.

Q. What state licensure information must a PA provide?

A. For state licenses, PAs are required to enter their name as shown on the license, the State Board with which the license is held, the license number and expiration date. This information must be provided using the Licenses/Privileges link on their personal certification record.

PAs must also attest to the statement, “I agree to provide NCCPA with the required information for any and all state licenses and government privileges that I have held in the past or currently hold. Furthermore, I understand that all state licenses and government privileges must be unrestricted, as defined in the licensure requirement section of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program, in order for me to be eligible to register for, earn, and maintain the Certificate of Added Qualifications. I understand that I am responsible for notifying NCCPA of any restrictions placed on my licenses or privileges to practice within 60 days of the final action taken by the licensing or privileging authority and that I may be subject to sanctions if such notification is not timely provided.”

Q. What government agency information must a PA provide?

A. For government agency privilege information, PAs are required to enter their name as shown on the privilege, the name of the government agency, and the privilege expiration date. This information is entered through the Licenses/Privileges link on the CAQ section of their personal certification record.

PAs must also attest to the statement, “I agree to provide NCCPA with the required information for any and all state licenses and government privileges that I have held in the past or currently hold. Furthermore, I understand that all state licenses and government privileges must be unrestricted, as defined in the licensure requirement section of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program, in order for me to be eligible to register for, earn, and maintain the Certificate of Added Qualifications. I understand that I am responsible for notifying NCCPA of any restrictions placed on my licenses or privileges to practice within 60 days of the final action taken by the licensing or privileging authority and that I may be subject to sanctions if such notification is not timely provided.”

In addition, PAs must request that the government agency provide NCCPA with verification of the privilege status. PAs will be required to acknowledge this requirement by clicking on the following statement: “I understand that it is my responsibility to assure that any government agency(ies) from which I hold privileges to practice as a PA provide NCCPA with the required verification of unrestricted privilege(s), as defined in the licensure requirement section of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

PAs can download a template from our Web site to be completed by the government agency and returned to NCCPA as verification of the government agency privilege.

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CME

Q. Can I use CME for both the PA-C certification and for the CAQ?

A. Yes. CME credits that have been logged for a PA's PA-C certification maintenance may also be used for earning and maintaining a CAQ, as long as they also meet the CAQ CME requirements.

For the initial CAQ, PAs must log 150 credits of Category 1 CME that is focused on their specialty and earned within six years prior to when they apply for the CAQ exam, and at least 50 of those credits must have been earned within two years of applying for the exam. Each specialty also has specific CME requirements and recommendations. These requirements are listed in the Appendix section of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

Q. What is the earning window for CAQ CME?

A. For meeting the CME requirement to earn the initial CAQ, the 150 credits of Category 1 CME must have been earned within six years prior to applying for the CAQ exam, and 50 of those credits must have been earned with two years of applying for the exam.

For CAQ maintenance, the 125 CME credits must be earned within the current ten-year CAQ cycle.

These requirements are listed in the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program.

Q. Can I count the time that I spend taking the CAQ exam as CME?

A. No. The exam does not qualify as a CME activity.

Q. Can I count the time that I spend preparing for the CAQ exam as Category 2 CME for the certification maintenance of my PA-C? If so, how many credits are allowed?

A. Preparing for a CAQ exam can be logged on an hour-for-hour basis as Category 2 CME for the purpose of maintaining PA-C certification. Category 2 credits are not required or accepted for maintenance of the CAQ.

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Experience

Q. What is required for the experience requirement?

A. Details for the experience requirement are provided in the Appendix of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program. The number of experience hours required varies by specialty and was developed with input from PAs and physicians working in the specialty. The experience hours must have been acquired during the six-year period prior to when the PA provides their attestation of the experience to NCCPA. Volunteer work and clinical experience gained in a post-graduate training program may also be counted for this requirement. The hours do not have to be congruent, but they must have occurred within the six-year period prior to your attestation. PAs selected for an audit will have to provide documentation of their experience.

Please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program for more detailed information on this requirement.

Q. How do I submit my experience requirement?

A. To fulfill the experience requirement, PAs must sign in to their personal certification record at www.nccpa.net, and pay the $100 administrative fee (if they have not already done so). Then they will need to read the attestation statement regarding the experience requirement and click on the button to attest that they have earned the required hours of experience within the previous six years.

Q. Why does the required amount of experience vary from specialty to specialty?

A. The experience requirement for each specialty was developed based on recommendations from physicians and PAs practicing in each specialty.

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Procedure/Patient Case Requirements

Q. What is required for the procedure/patient case requirement?

A. Details for the procedures/patient case requirement are provided in the Appendix of the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program. The procedure/patient case requirement varies by specialty and was developed with input from PAs and physicians working in the specialty. In support of this requirement, PAs must provide an attestation from a supervising physician who works in the specialty and is familiar with the PA's practice and experience. The physician attestation must indicate that the PA has performed the procedures and patient management relevant to the practice setting and/or understands how and when the procedures should be performed.

Please refer to the Governing Policies Regarding the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program for more detailed information on this requirement.

Q. How do I submit the procedure/patient case requirement?

A. To submit the procedure/patient case requirement, PAs must sign in to their personal certification record and pay the $100 administrative fee (if they have not already done so). Then they will need to read the attestation statement regarding the procedure/patient case requirement and click on the button to attest that they have satisfied the requirement.

PAs will then need to acknowledge that they must also provide an attestation from a supervising physician who works in the specialty and is familiar with their practice and experience. The physician attestation must indicate that the PA has performed the procedures and patient management relevant to the practice setting and/or understands how and when the procedures should be performed. PAs can download a template to present to their supervising physician by clicking on the link provided in the procedure/patient case section in their personal record in the Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) section. The physician attestation must be submitted to NCCPA.

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Exam

Q. How long is the CAQ exam?

A. The CAQ exams consist of 120 questions. PAs are provided with two hours of testing time and 15 minutes to take the tutorial. (If they take the CAQ exam on the same day as the PANRE, they will not need to do the additional tutorial.)

Q. How many times per year is the CAQ exam offered?

A. The exam is only offered one day per year in September.

Q. Where will I take the exam?

A. Just like the PANCE and PANRE, the CAQ exams will be offered at Pearson VUE centers that are located throughout the U.S. and in select other countries. Although the exams are given on just one day a year, PAs can take the exam at a Pearson VUE location of their choice, based on availability.

Q. What is included on the exams?

A. The examination consists of 120 multiple-choice questions related to the specific specialty and targeted for PAs who have experience in the practice of that specialty. Content blueprints for each exam were developed using data gathered from NCCPA's most recent practice analysis. PAs can access the blueprints on NCCPA's Web site by clicking on the following link and then selecting the particular specialty of their choice.

Q. What happens if I don't pass the exam? How many times can I retake the specialty CAQ exam?

A. If a PA fails the exam, he/she can apply for the next administration the following year. Currently there are no limits on the number of times a PA can take the CAQ exam. However, the PA must pass the exam within six years of initiating the CAQ process or he/she will have to start the process anew. Unsuccessful examinees may apply for a subsequent exam but will have to continue to meet the Certificate of Added Qualifications eligibility requirements described above at the time of their next application.

Q. If I fail the CAQ exam, when can I take it again?

A. The CAQ exams are offered once per year in September. If a PA fails the exam, he/she may register to take the next administration.

Q. Are there practice exams for the CAQs?

A. At the present time, NCCPA does not offer practice exams for the CAQs.

Q. How do I set up my exam time and location?

A. After your exam application has been processed, you will receive an acknowledgement notice providing details for scheduling the exam with Pearson VUE.

Q. Can I take the CAQ exam before completing all of the other requirements?

A. No. All of the other requirements (specialty CME, experience, and procedures/patient case) must be met prior to applying for and taking the CAQ exam. In addition, PAs must also meet the basic requirements for licensure and have a current PA-C status.

Q. If I am unable to take the exam on the scheduled testing date due to an extenuating circumstance at the testing facility, will I be required to wait until the following year to take the exam?

A. If such a situation occurs, NCCPA may offer a make-up exam date.

Q. Can I register to take the CAQ exam and the PANRE at the same time?

A. Yes, as long as all eligibility criteria for both exams have been met. If a PA chooses to take the CAQ exam and PANRE on the same day, the testing day will be 7 hours long.

Q. Will I have to take an exam every ten years?

A. Yes. In order to maintain a CAQ, PAs must continue to meet the current PA-C and licensure and/or government agency requirements, earn and log at least 125 credits of Category 1 CME focused on the specialty over the ten-year cycle, and pass the CAQ exam prior to the expiration of their current ten-year cycle. (The CME hours may also be used to satisfy the PA-C requirements.)

Q. Does this replace the recertification exam (PANRE)?

A. No, the CAQ exam does not replace the requirement of taking and passing the recertification exam (PANRE) every six to ten years and meeting the PA-C CME requirement in order to maintain NCCPA certification (PA-C).

Q. Does NCCPA recommend any study materials for these exams?

A. No. NCCPA does not recommend specific study guides or review courses.

Q. When will I receive my score?

A. NCCPA will conduct analysis and validation activities before the scores are released. Therefore, PAs who take the exam in September will likely receive their results in December.

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Maintenance

Q. How long is the CAQ cycle?

A. The CAQ cycle is ten years.

Q. What do I have to do to keep my CAQ current?

A. To maintain the CAQ, PAs must continue to meet the current PA-C and licensure and/or government agency requirements, earn and log at least 125 credits of Category 1 CME focused on the specialty over the ten-year cycle, and pass the CAQ exam prior to the expiration of the current ten-year cycle. (The CME creditss may also be used to satisfy the PA-C requirements.)

Q. If I lose my PA-C certification for any reason after receiving my CAQ, how does that affect my CAQ?

A. Since one of the requirements to maintain the CAQ is that PAs must continue to meet the current PA-C requirements and hold a valid certification, loss of the certification will result in loss of the CAQ.

Q. Do I have to submit CME every two years for my CAQ?

A. No, unlike the PA-C cycle that has requirements that must be met every two years, the maintenance requirements for the CAQ may be submitted any time prior to the end of the ten-year cycle.

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Special Accommodations Questions

Q. Does NCCPA provide special testing accommodations?

A. Yes. NCCPA complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and also offers special accommodations when testing for qualified examinees with medical conditions that may be temporary or are not otherwise covered by the ADA.

Q. What special testing accommodations are available?

A. For PANCE, PANRE and CAQ administrations, accommodations that have been made include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • extending testing time
  • frequent breaks
  • individual testing room
  • reader and medical device not on the approved medical/comfort aids list

For detailed information please review the Guidelines for Special Accommodations for Exam Takers with Disabilities which are available by clicking here.

Q. What are the requirements for special testing accommodations?

A. Information regarding special testing accommodations can be found at http://www.nccpa.net/SpecialAccommodations. In addition, detailed information regarding requesting accommodations and the required documentation is provided in the Guidelines for Special Accommodations for Exam Takers with Disabilities which are available by clicking here (PDF) or by contacting NCCPA to request a copy be emailed to you. You may also want to view the special accommodations request process flowchart which provides an overview of the steps in the process.

Q. When should I submit my request for special testing accommodations?

A. Your request for special testing accommodations should be submitted when applying for an examination. However, you may want to review the Guidelines for Special Accommodations for Exam Takers with Disabilities which are available by clicking here prior to applying for the examination.

Q. What documentation is required to request special testing accommodations?

A. Appropriate documentation of a disability or qualifying medical condition must be provided by the examinee requesting special testing accommodations. The documentation must specify the extent to which testing procedures are to be modified. The accommodation requested or recommended by the professional should not be based on preferences but on disability-driven reasons, nor should it over-accommodate the test taker.

Q. Can I apply for special accommodations after I have already submitted an online examination application?

A. Yes. You will have to submit your request in writing to have your current application withdrawn and transferred to a new application window requesting special accommodations and submit the required documentation. Note: If you have scheduled an exam date it will be CANCELLED.

Q. If I previously applied for and was granted special testing accommodations for the same disability/medical condition, do I need to submit all the required documentation again?

A. Accommodation needs can change over time; a prior history of diagnosis and accommodation, without demonstration of a current need, does not in and of itself warrant the provision of an accommodation.  Approval of an accommodation request will not automatically be based on the same accommodation previously approved.  For every examination application, the Special Accommodations Request Form must be completed and submitted to NCCPA at the time of application or immediately thereafter.  

If previous documentation has been submitted, NCCPA will review that documentation along with the new accommodations request form. Depending on the amount of time since the previous special accommodation request, the date of the documentation and any changes in the nature of extent of the disability and accommodation request, additional documentation may be required.  For detailed information see the Application for Subsequent Test Accommodations section of the Guidelines for Special Accommodations for Exam Takers with Disabilities which are available by clicking here.

Q. If I was granted special testing accommodations at my PA Program am I automatically granted special testing accommodations for my NCCPA examination?

A. No, accommodation needs can change over time; approval of an accommodation by a PA Program (or other testing entity) will not automatically qualify an examinee for special testing accommodations.

Q. What is the processing time for the special testing accommodations?

A. From the time all of the required documentation is received to notification of a decision is approximately 3-5 business days.

Q. Can I remove or cancel my request for special accommodations?

A. Yes. You will need to submit your request in writing. Your current application will be withdrawn and transferred to a new application window without special accommodations. Note: If you have scheduled an exam date it will be CANCELLED.

Q. Is my submitted documentation kept confidential?

A. Yes. Access to the documentation is restricted to the exam administration staff assigned to your Special Accommodations request.

Q. Do I need to request special accommodations for comfort and/or medical aids such as pills, inhalers, medicine and medical devices, etc.?

A. Click here for a list of comfort and medical aids that do not require a pre-approved special accommodations request.

Q. Can I bring my own earplugs and/or headphones to the testing center to be worn during my examination?

A. No, these will be provided by the testing center.

Q. Are there any indicators or flags that my examination was taken with special accommodations?

A. No, there are no flags or indicators on your score report, certificate, credentialing verification to third party requestors that an examinee had received special accommodations.

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Miscellaneous Questions

Q. What is the minimum system requirements to access the website and PA secure area of the website?

A. The minimum recommended browser requirements are:

  • Internet Explorer (Windows) 8.0
  • Mozilla Fire Fox 3.0.17
  • Safari (Mac) 3.0.4

The browser/security settings must allow Java-Script.
The browser must handle cookies.
Your monitor resolution should be at least 800x600 pixel resolution (requires scrolling).  NOTE:  To ensure best viewing of the online exams features, a 1024 pixel resolution width or better is recommended and your browser MUST handle frames.

If you have problems accessing the secure PA section of the Web site, please contact NCCPA at 678-417-8100.

Q. How can I be sure that it's safe to provide my credit card number over the web?

A. We use the best encryption technology available - the same software used by all Fortune 500 companies who conduct e-commerce. The credit card data you provide to us on our Web site can only be interpreted here at our office.

Q. How can I get a receipt for the payment I submitted?

A. To print a receipt for any payments made to NCCPA since 2004, sign in to your personal certification record at www.nccpa.net and click the "Receipt" link in the left-hand column of your My Record page and then follow the on-screen instructions.

Q. How long do I have to request a refund?

A. You have 30 days from the date the payment was received to request a refund. You can request a refund in writing with a signature by fax (678-417-8135) or mail (NCCPA, 12000 Findley Road, Suite 100, Johns Creek, GA 30097)

*NCCPA exams and Practice Exams have unique refund policies. Please review the specific refund policy in the policies section when applying for an exam or Practice Exam.

Q. How do I get my scores/verification sent to my state for licensing?

A. We can provide verification of certification over the phone (678.417.8100), but we need to receive requests for the release of scores online or in writing. You can sign in to your personal record and choose Credentialing Info Release, email us your request (including your name, NCCPA ID number and to whom it should be sent) or fax or mail your request.

Q. My name has changed. How do I update NCCPA's records?

A. To make name changes, sign in to your personal certification record, click on the "Personal Info" link, and follow the instructions from there. A name change is not final until NCCPA receives a copy of your valid drivers license or passport. Or you can scan and email (namechanges@nccpa.net) or fax (678-417-8135) a copy of your valid drivers license or passport requesting the change and one of our staff members will update your record within 24 to 48 business hours. 

Q. How do I change my contact information (address, telephone, e-mail)?

A. Sign in to your personal certification record, click on the "Make Corrections " link in the top right-hand corner of your My Record page, and follow the simple instructions from there. Or, email the new information to nccpa@nccpa.net; be sure to include your name and NCCPA ID number.

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