"Certificates of Added Qualification" Replace "Specialty Certification"
At its July 31 meeting, the NCCPA Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization's new specialty credential program from "specialty certification" to a certificate of added qualifications (CAQ) program.
Mark Christiansen, PhD, PA-C, who chairs the NCCPA committee spearheading the development of the new specialty program, notes that the new CAQ label has several benefits.
"A certificate of added qualifications clearly reflects its relationship to the PA-C credential. This is a designation that PAs earn above and beyond the PA-C, which remains the foundational credential for the PA profession," says Christiansen. "The certificate of added qualifications name also appropriately reflects PAs' grounding first in primary care or generalist practice, a base of training and knowledge that is augmented but not replaced through practice in a specialty."
The change also stemmed from concerns that a program labeled "certification" would trigger automatic credentialing and privileging requirements in many hospital settings, an issue that runs counter to its positioning by NCCPA as a voluntary process.
"Learning that many hospital credentialing forms specifically ask whether there is 'certification' available in a practitioner's specialty area prompted us to reconsider that label," Christiansen says. "We hope PAs practicing in specialties will choose to participate in this new program, but we don't want it to be forced on them just because of what we've chosen to call it."
Adds NCCPA President Janet J. Lathrop, "The challenge of appropriately incorporating specialty practice in the PA certification process is probably the biggest--and certainly the longest running--challenge NCCPA has faced in our 35-year history. It's rewarding to resolve it while appropriately addressing our responsibility to the public and the needs and concerns of the PA profession."
Registration for the new CAQ process is scheduled to begin in November. The program will include CAQs in cardiovascular/thoracic surgery, emergency medicine, nephrology, orthopaedic surgery and psychiatry. The first specialty exams will be administered in September 2011.