Statement on Veto of PA Bill in West Virginia

Physician assistants (PAs) have been vital members of the nation’s healthcare team for 50 years. As a profession, we are committed to the health, safety and well-being of all our patients. Today’s PAs are certified healthcare providers that practice medicine as a part of teams led by physicians in hospitals, clinics, operating rooms and emergency departments. They often see their own patients, create a medical treatment plan for patients, prescribe medications and assist in surgery.

When PAs graduate from PA school, they receive a master’s degree and must pass the NCCPA certification exam to prove they have adequate medical knowledge to practice before they can be licensed. To ensure Certified PAs REMAIN up-to-date with medical knowledge, they must:

  1. Complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every 2 years and

  2. Successfully pass an NCCPA recertification exam every 10 years.

These high certification standards assure patients they are being cared for by qualified PAs who keep up with new medical advances and retain enough core medical knowledge to pass a recertification exam. These safeguards were put in place to ensure patient safety and high quality care is delivered by Certified PAs.

Recently we learned about proposed legislation in a few states that would remove PA certification and recertification requirements. The effect on patients is that if high standards are not required, patients in those states will be cared for by PAs who do not fulfill the two requirements above. It is our mission to serve the public by ensuring that Certified PAs have adequate core medical knowledge, as demonstrated by passing the NCCPA recertification exam, to practice safely and effectively.

On April 12, the governor of West Virginia vetoed a bill that would have removed current NCCPA certification as a requirement for PAs in that state. The NCCPA believes this veto protects patient safety and holds PAs to appropriately high standards.

At a time when the nation needs PAs to do more for more patients, we must continue to maintain the high standards that helped the profession to reach this point of public acceptance and patient trust.