Code of Conduct for Certified and Certifying PAs and PAs with the PA-C Emeritus Designation


The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) endeavors to assure the public that certified physician assistants (PAs) meet professional standards of knowledge and skills. Additionally, NCCPA attempts to ensure that the PAs it certifies are upholding appropriate standards of professionalism and ethics in practice. The NCCPA’s Code of Conduct for Certified and Certifying PAs and PAs with the PA-C Emeritus Designation (the "Code of Conduct") outlines principles that all certified or certifying PAs and PAs holding the PA-C Emeritus designation are expected to uphold. Breaches of these principles may be cause for disciplinary review. Disciplinary actions taken at the conclusion of that review may include a letter of concern, formal censures, revocation of certification and/or eligibility for certification, or revocation of PA-C Emeritus designation or eligibility for the designation, and/or other actions deemed appropriate by NCCPA, such as administrative suspension. Disciplinary actions may be reported to the Federation of State Medical Boards, any state licensing authority, the federal government, the PA’s employer, and other interested parties, including individuals seeking information about the PA’s certification or PA-C Emeritus designation, as solely determined by the NCCPA and in compliance with NCCPA’s Information Disclosure policy. This Code of Conduct represents some, though not necessarily all, of the behaviors that may trigger review under NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary MattersNCCPA retains the right to impose discipline under its Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters even if the PA’s certification expires or the PA retires from practice, provided that the violation triggering the disciplinary proceeding occurred when the PA was certified, seeking certification, or applying for or holding the PA-C Emeritus designation.

Principles of Conduct

Certified or certifying PAs shall protect the integrity of NCCPA-issued credentials and of the processes by which those credentials are earned and awarded. Certified or certifying PAs and PAs with the PA-C Emeritus designation:

  • shall not engage in cheating or other dishonest behavior that violates exam security (including unauthorized reproducing, distributing, displaying, discussing, sharing or otherwise misusing test questions or any part of test questions) before, during or after an NCCPA examination.

  • shall not engage in irregular behavior, as defined in NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters.

  • shall not employ deceptive means, including submitting to the NCCPA any document or testimony that contains a misstatement of fact or omits a fact to obtain, attempt to obtain or assist others in obtaining or maintaining an NCCPA credential.

  • shall not manufacture, modify, reproduce, distribute or use a fraudulent or otherwise unauthorized NCCPA certificate.

  • shall not falsely represent themselves in any way to be a Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) designee, a  Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) recipient, or a PA-C Emeritus or otherwise use or assist others in using fraudulent credentials, as set forth in in the NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters

  • shall promptly inform NCCPA when possessing knowledge or evidence that raises a substantial question of cheating on or misuse of questions from an NCCPA examination, fraudulent use of an NCCPA card, certificate or other document or misrepresentation of NCCPA certification status by a physician assistant or any other individual.

Certified or certifying PAs and PAs with the PA-C Emeritus designation shall comply with all applicable laws, regulations and standards related to their professional role, including but not limited to those governing clinical practice. Certified or certifying PAs and PAs with the PA-C Emeritus designation:

  • shall respect appropriate professional boundaries in their interactions with patients and others.

  • shall avoid behavior that would pose a threat or potential threat to the health, well-being or safety of others apart from reasonable risks taken in a patient's interest during the delivery of health care.

  • shall not disclose patient confidential information, publicly disclose information about a patient that the PA learned as part of the PA’s practice or professional role, nor disparage any patient in a public setting, (including through social media) based on information observed or learned in the PA’s practice or professional role.

  • shall recognize and understand their professional and personal limitations.

  • shall practice without impairment from substance abuse and shall practice without impairment from cognitive deficiency or mental illness that, even with appropriate reasonable accommodation, adversely affects their practice.

  • shall, unless no longer certified or certifying, maintain and demonstrate the ability to engage in the practice of medicine within their chosen areas of practice safely and competently.

  • shall behave in a manner that is lawful and ethical, during and outside the practice of medicine, that upholds accepted standards of professional practice and conduct.

  • must report to the NCCPA any adverse regulatory or credentialing action within 30 days of issuance, including, but not limited to, revocation, suspension, surrender, loss or denial of or any restrictions, conditions or fines imposed on any license, authorization, or credential to practice as a health care provider (including authorization to practice as an employee of the federal government or in a jurisdiction not requiring licensure), whether such adverse action is by decision, consent order, stipulation, or agreement.

  • must report to NCCPA within 30 days of convictions, guilty pleas or no contest pleas to felonies and certain misdemeanors, as described more fully in the Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters

  • must cooperate with and respond to inquiries from NCCPA related to their own or another’s compliance with NCCPA’s policies and this Code of Conduct, in connection with NCCPA certification-related matters or disciplinary proceedings.

  • must comply with conditions set forth by NCCPA, unless due to circumstances beyond the PA’s control.

PAs with the PA-C Emeritus designation shall not use the PA-C Emeritus designation in any clinical setting or in the context of any clinically-related interaction, including clinical volunteer service.

Monitoring:        This policy will be reviewed every third year in November beginning in 2019.

Adopted:             November 2005

Last Revised:      November 2019