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NCCPA Newsletter
National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)4/17/2015
April Newsletter

It's Time: Make Your Voice Heard

Q&As with PAs Across the Country

Keeping Up with PA History

Make a Difference ... Apply for a Foundation Grant

It's Time: Make Your Voice Heard

If you have ever wished other health professionals, patients or even your family understood better what it means to be a certified PA…

Or if you have ever felt that PAs are undervalued or underappreciated…

Or if you have ever wanted NCCPA to understand that what you do in practice is different than what is covered on your recertification exam…

Your time is now!

Earlier this week, you received an email invitation to complete the 2015 PA Practice Analysis Survey.

We cannot overstate how important it is that you make time to participate.

This will take some time: PAs who tested the survey for us tell us you should plan to spend about 90 minutes. That probably seems like a lot of time in terms of today or this week. But consider that this profession-wide survey is only conducted every five to seven years. When put in that context, 90 minutes is a small investment given the opportunity to help shape the content and even the direction of NCCPA’s exams and to help illuminate a much clearer picture of what PAs are doing in health care today.

So please, don’t let this opportunity to make your voice heard pass you by. Schedule the time you’ll need to complete this survey as soon as you can and no later than May 22.

To thank you for your time and encourage participation in this important survey, all who complete the survey will be entered to win one of five $1,000 prizes.

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Q&As with PAs Across the Country

During his travels across the country speaking with PAs at state and specialty conferences, Greg Thomas, director of external relations for NCCPA, is asked similar questions from California to New York. We thought you’d be interested in his responses to some of the most common ones.

Why did NCCPA change the certification maintenance process? NCCPA began deliberation about changes to the certification maintenance process over a decade ago. Incorporating feedback from medical boards, other PA organizations, and individual PAs, we developed a new process with the goal 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 review that is the essence of self-assessment will help busy PAs focus their limited CME time and dollars. We believe that taking time to reflect on some aspect of your practice, to identify an opportunity to improve it and then to make that change will not only have a real impact on your practice, but is consistent with the concept of continuous professional development that has always been a part of the PA profession.

Do I have to submit both SA and PI-CME every two years? No, once you have transitioned to the 10-year certification maintenance process, you must have 20 credits of SA or PI-CME or a combination of both during every two year certification maintenance cycle. By the end of year 8, you must have a total of 40 credits of SA and 40 credits of PI-CME. How you want to meet that requirement during each two-year cycle is flexible.

Where can I find a list of approved SA and PI-CME activities? Click here for a list of AAPA-approved SA and PI-CME activities.

How will earning a specialty CAQ benefit me? PAs who have earned the CAQ credential report benefits ranging from financial bonuses to increased responsibilities to landing new jobs to enhanced institutional/community recognition. For many PAs, the requirements to be eligible for a CAQ are relatively easy to meet. Read more at

Why should I take a Practice Exam? Taking a Practice Exam is a great way to prepare for our exams. And at $35, it is very affordable! The Practice Exams are based on the real exam's content blueprint, giving you a good sense of the type of questions you will face across the exam's content areas. By taking a Practice Exam, you will also be familiarized with taking a timed, computerized exam. Once complete, you will receive a performance interpretation report that will detail your strengths and weaknesses in the content areas that make up the real exam. What better way to prepare for an NCCPA exam than taking a Practice Exam directly from the source?! 

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Keeping Up with PA History:

We hope to see you in San Francisco next month during the AAPA Conference. Please stop by the
PAHx booth – we’ll be located in the conference registration area-PA Hub in Hall B. The Society will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the NCCPA certifying exam by giving away PAHx water bottles each day to the first 40 people who visit the Society’s booth!

Check out the latest edition of Historical Happenings, and visit the PA History Society’s website for information on all things PA history.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to “like” the PA History Society on Facebook to receive updates and to try your hand in PA history trivia!

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Make a Difference ... Apply for a Foundation Grant

Take a leadership role, design a project to promote health and reduce health disparities, and apply to the nccPA Health Foundation for funding.

“Oral health is part of overall health; however, the Surgeon General called dental disease the silent epidemic, noting its disproportionate impact on older and younger populations, those in lower socioeconomic groups, and people with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds,” said Cynthia B. Lord, MHS, PA-C, chair of the nccPA Health Foundation. “In celebration of National Minority Health Month this April, I encourage you to engage your colleagues about how to design a community outreach project to reach these underserved populations to promote health.”

Interested PAs, constituent organizations, student societies, and PA programs can learn more about this grant opportunity by viewing the guidelines and application here.

For PA faculty, the Foundation has a second grant opportunity for those integrating oral health into their curriculum. Faculty are encouraged to think creatively about how to embed oral health across their curriculum, both in terms of care across the lifespan and chronic disease management as well as using oral health as an example for teaching team-based care and systems-change concepts. Interested educators can learn more about this grant opportunity online.

All grant applications are reviewed on a first come, first served basis until available funds are expended.  Grants provided by the Foundation are part of the PA Leadership Initiative in Oral Health with support from the National Interprofessional Initiative in Oral Health (NIIOH) and funding from the Dentaquest Foundation, Washington Dental Service Foundation, and the Connecticut Health Foundation.

Interested in learning more about oral health? Visit Smiles for Life ( to get started. Questions?  Email

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In The News:

At NCCPA, we work to promote the role, impact and qualifications of PAs in many ways including through the media. Here are some recent results.

Want to get involved? If you have a great article idea or a story to share, contact PR manager, Mary Rittle, at

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants is dedicated to serving the interest of the public. We do so with a passionate belief that certified physician assistants are essential members of the health care delivery team who provide millions access to more affordable, high quality health care.

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