Specialty Certificates of Added Qualifications (CAQs)
Click here for a list of CAQ recipients.
What is the CAQ?
The CAQ is a voluntary credential that Certified PAs can earn in seven specialties: Cardiovascular &Thoracic Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Hospital Medicine, Nephrology, Orthopaedic Surgery, Pediatrics and Psychiatry.
Achieve recognition for your specialty experience, skills and knowledge through NCCPA’s certificate of added qualifications (CAQ) program! Believing passionately that certified PAs are critical to the delivery of high quality, accessible, affordable health care, through this program NCCPA is offering the credentials you need to effectively document your specialty experience and expertise.
Why Would I Pursue a CAQ?
The CAQ is a designation that allows you to be recognized for your commitment to the specialty. The credential is a way to document and publicly share your specialty experience, skills and knowledge. Surveys of CAQ recipients tell us that they earn the CAQ for many reasons. Some do it for their own satisfaction — to prove to themselves they are at the top of their game. Others do it to boost their recognition and compensation or to increase their responsibilities or reimbursement. For PAs in the seven CAQ specialties, the credential adds practice-related credibility to your CV.
“The CAQs I have earned came with additional stress and hard work...however, they provide me with greater relatability and respect from the physicians-in-training I educate, as well as provide validation of my knowledge and skills to the attending board certified physicians I collaborate with daily.” -- Ryan Bierle, PA-C, Recipient of CAQs in both Emergency Medicine and Hospital Medicine
“I began the journey to my orthopedic CAQ as a challenge to myself. I was two years into practice and beginning to feel like I was plateauing even though I knew I had far more to learn in my field. By working toward and achieving the CAQ I increased my knowledge as well as my confidence in my practice.” Samantha Creamer, PA-C, CAQ Recipient in Orthopaedic Surgery
“True practice of medicine requires a lifelong pursuit of learning. Preparing for the CAQ in Psychiatry kept me up to date with the ever-growing body of knowledge and advancements occurring in mental health care research and treatment.” Sarah Masri, PA-C, CAQ Recipient in Psychiatry
About the CAQ Process and Exam
To qualify, PAs must first satisfy two basic pre-requisites: (1) current PA-C certification and (2) possession of a valid, unrestricted license to practice as a PA in at least one jurisdiction in the United States or its territories, or unrestricted privileges to practice as a PA for a government agency. (Note: If a PA holds licenses in multiple states, all of the licenses must be unrestricted.)
The CAQ has four core requirements: (1) Category 1 specialty CME, (2) one to two years of experience in the specialty, (3) an attestation of knowledge and skills, and (4) a specialty exam.
The cost of this program is just $350, including a $100 administrative fee and a $250 exam registration fee.
Apply and schedule your exam early for greatest likelihood of securing a convenient testing time and location.
Once awarded, a CAQ will be valid for ten years (provided that licensure status and PA-C certification are maintained).
For more details, select a CAQ program from the list on the left, and read more there.
Earning a CAQ
Key Dates for Earning a CAQ:
All exams for earning the initial CAQ are administered at Pearson VUE Test Centers.
January 1, 2021 – Exam application window opens for PAs applying to earn a CAQ
April 2, 2021 – Deadline to apply for a Spring CAQ exam administration at a Pearson VUE Test Center
April 5-10, 2021 – Spring administration window for all CAQ exams administered at Pearson VUE Test Centers
October 1, 2021 – Deadline to apply for a Fall CAQ exam administration at a Pearson VUE Test Center
October 4-9, 2021 – Fall administration window for all CAQ exams administered at Pearson VUE Test Centers
Maintaining a CAQ
PAs who are registering to take a CAQ exam to maintain their CAQ may choose to take the exam at a Pearson VUE Test Center or may choose the online delivery option. For additional information on the exam options and maintaining CAQs, please visit the Maintaining CAQs section of the Frequently Asked Questions.
Key Dates for PAs Maintaining a Currently Held CAQ – Pearson VUE Test Center Delivery Option
Key Dates for PAs Maintaining a Currently Held CAQ – Online Delivery Option
The online delivery option is only available to PAs who are maintaining a currently held CAQ.
February 1, 2021 – May 26, 2021 – Application period for PAs who are applying for the online CAQ maintenance exam to maintain a currently held CAQ
April 19 – June 1, 2021 – Online CAQ maintenance exam administration window (Exam questions can be completed at any time during this window.)
Before registering for a Specialty CAQ, you'll want to become familiar with all of the CAQ policies and procedures.