Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources 

We're here for you.

In this time of uncertainty, NCCPA is here for you.

We know that many PAs are on the front lines of combating the coronavirus pandemic, and we offer our sincere gratitude for the sacrifices that you have made. We appreciate all that you are doing to ensure that our nation overcomes this health care crisis.

We also know that some PAs have been furloughed during this time and more may have questions about how this will impact certification/recertification efforts. Please know that we are keeping a close eye on conditions and remain attentive to the feedback that we are hearing from PAs.

Interestingly, we see that more PAs are completing their certification maintenance requirements earlier than this time in previous years. Thank you.

The NCCPA leadership and staff continue to be with you and endeavor to do what we can to minimize any added concern during this unprecedented time. Below, we offer responses to some of your most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

If you have a question that is not addressed in the FAQs below, please feel free to contact us at nccpa@nccpa.net, and we will get back to you shortly.

EXAM ADMINISTRATION

1) Has Pearson VUE reopened test centers? 

For a short period of time (less than 10 business days), PAs were unable to schedule exam administrations with Pearson VUE.  However, effective April 1 Pearson VUE opened up test delivery for PAs, as essential medical service providers, at a subset of Pearson VUE test centers across the United States. You will find information on this when you go to the NCCPA page for exam scheduling exam on the Pearson VUE web site.  As situations progress, more test centers open and some may need to close due to factors such as local government guidance, business operations, staff availability, and the supply of cleaning and disinfectant materials. Your health and safety are paramount for both NCCPA and Pearson VUE alike and more test centers will be available as soon as feasible based on the factors above.

Pearson VUE’s test centers are following government guidelines for social distancing and limiting the number of individuals, including staff, in the test center at any time. As a result of these measures, appointment availability will be extremely limited. Also, because the situation rapidly changes as this pandemic impacts different areas of our country, the list of open test centers may be revised as additional centers are added or as others close. Please continue to check for appointment availability often as Pearson VUE works to increase availability as quickly as possible. 


2) Is NCCPA doing anything to try to get more test centers opened for PAs to be able to test?  

Yes, we are working closely with Pearson VUE to provide as many opportunities as possible for PAs to test in all centers that are open and able to provide the required security and standardization of testing experiences, as well as comply with requirements for candidate safety due to the COVID-19 crisis.  In the past, only the Pearson-owned and operated test centers were used to administer NCCPA’s exams.  We have collaborated with Pearson VUE to also add additional centers that contract with Pearson VUE to administer exams without compromising on standardized administrations or exam security.  When you search for a test center option, all available test centers will be displayed.

3) How will I know which test centers are available? 

To find an available center, go to pearsonvue.com and log in to your account. Only open centers will appear in your search.  Not all test centers are immediately open due to factors such as local government guidance, business operations, staff availability and the sufficient supply of cleaning and disinfectant materials. Pearson VUE’s priority is to provide test delivery in as safe of an environment as possible, and more test centers will be available as soon as feasible based on staff availability, cleaning and disinfectant supplies, and local government guidance.

4) Why are no test centers open in my state? 

Some states have implemented rules that all but essential business must close. As an enabling business for essential service workers, Pearson VUE is trying to open more test centers.  In order for a test center to be operational, there are additional factors such as staff availability and the sufficient supply of cleaning and disinfectant materials. More centers will be opened as soon as possible based on volunteer staff, solving supply logistics and navigating government guidelines.

5) I had a test scheduled and received a message from Pearson VUE that I need to reschedule it. Why? 

Some centers that were open have had to close or it may be that your center had to reschedule candidates due to the social distancing requirements for candidate safety.  Instead of canceling your exam, Pearson VUE has assigned it to a date 30 days out from your original date and at temporary placeholder test center.  If you receive this notice from Pearson VUE, please take action as soon as possible.  You will need to reschedule your appointment for the date and center of your preference before those 30 days expire. 

Pearson VUE makes every attempt to reach out to candidates are impacted by changes at test centers.  However, we strongly advise you to refer to the Coronavirus Update Page of Pearson VUE’s web site frequently and to log into your personal record at Pearson VUE to check on any potential changes to your exam.  You should also try to call your test center a couple of days before testing to confirm that the center is open and whether there are any additional requirements for testing. Doing this prior to your testing day may help avoid unnecessary issues or surprises for you at the test center. 

Some accommodations requests, like time extensions for shorter exams, can be completed via our website. However, if you require a separate room, a third-party resource or physical equipment for your appointment, you need to contact our accommodations team to schedule a new appointment. Candidates in the U.S., Canada, and South America should call 1-800-466-0450. Candidates in the rest of the world should send an email to apacaccommodations@pearson.com with the following information: Candidate ID, test program name, preferred test center and test date. Please allow 2-3 business days for a response.

6) It seems that situations change frequently regarding requirements for testing in different areas of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  How do I know what is going on with the test center I’ve selected for my exam administration?

You are absolutely correct!  Situations can still change rapidly depending on state and local government requirements and Pearson VUE’s ability to provide adequate staff and sanitation for test centers.  Please be sure to check your emails frequently and pay close attention to all messages you receive from Pearson VUE and NCCPA, as they may contain important and time sensitive information about your scheduled exam. 

7) Are candidates required to wear a face mask at Pearson VUE test centers? Has Pearson VUE implemented safety measures due to COVID-19 concerns? 

In some states, the answer is YES that candidates are required to wear masks! If you are testing at a center that requires a mask, you must bring one with you or you will not be able to test. On April 28, the following states began requiring candidates to wear face masks:  Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.  Please keep in mind that additional states could be added at any time, so please be on the look out for any notices you receive from Pearson VUE related to your testing.

Pearson VUE makes every attempt to reach out to candidates who may be impacted by changes as they occur.  However, we strongly advise you to refer to the Coronavirus Update Page of Pearson VUE’s web site frequently, especially as your exam day approaches, to look for any pertinent information that may apply to you.  Also, please log into your personal record at Pearson VUE to check on any updates that may be posted regarding your exam administration. You should also try to call your test center a couple of days before your scheduled date to confirm that the center is open and whether there are any additional requirements for testing. Doing this prior to your testing day may help avoid unnecessary issues or surprises for you at the test center. 

In addition, Pearson VUE’s test centers are following government guidelines for social distancing and limiting the number of individuals, including staff, in the test center at any time.  They are cleaning and disinfecting the open test centers, including objects that candidates interact with, such as scanners, keyboards, and locker fobs with increased frequency and between each test taker.  If you are testing at a center that does not require a mask, you are still allowed to bring a face mask and/or protective gloves to wear during your exam appointment if you wish to do so. Please note, candidates will be asked to briefly remove the mask during the check-in process to verify identity and take a photo.

8) I have been approved for ADA accommodations and need to schedule (or reschedule) my exam. What do I do? 

You will need to contact the accommodations services at Pearson VUE directly to schedule or reschedule your exam appointment, and you  will need to provide your candidate ID, the name of the exam you are registered for (PANCE or PANRE), and your preferred test date and center.  For exams in the U.S., Canada, and South American the number for these services is 1-800-466-0450.  Candidates in the rest of the world should send an email to apacaccommodations@pearson.com.   Please allow 2-3 business days for a response.

9) With the limited availability of test centers and test appointments, I am concerned about the number of opportunities I will have to test. 

If you find that you are unable to test before your six-year eligibility period ends for PANCE or before your certification expires due to the test center closing and limited available centers/testing appointments, you may submit an Exception to Policy (ETP).  Click here for detailed information on submitting an ETP.

10) Can NCCPA administer the PANCE in the same online format that is used for the Pilot Alternative to PANRE? 

The foundational principles on which the Pilot format and system were developed were specifically relevant to the purpose of a longitudinal recertification process designed to help PAs demonstrate medical knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and hopefully help close those gaps over the period in which the assessment is administered.  It is considered an “assessment for learning,” unlike PANCE that is considered an “assessment of learning.”  Upon graduation, PAs sit for PANCE to demonstrate that they have acquired the knowledge and skills deemed necessary for entry to PA practice.

In addition to these foundational differences, the PANCE questions have not been developed for the Pilot-type administration, and any exam content administered in the online, at-home format is considered to be exposed and would not be used again on exams administered at test centers. Lastly, extensive revisions would be needed to the technology system in order for it be re-purposed for other uses.

11) Can NCCPA open up all of the remaining questions for the rest of this year’s Pilot administrations so that I can complete it now? 

The foundational principles on which the Pilot format and system were developed were specifically relevant to the purpose of a longitudinal recertification process designed to help PAs demonstrate medical knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and hopefully help close those gaps over the period in which the assessment is administered.  At the end of each quarter, analyses are conducted, comments PAs provide on any items are reviewed, and work is needed to queue up the unique set of questions that will be administered to each individual PA in the following quarter.  There is a small window of time between the end of one quarter and published start date of the next to ensure that all of these processes are performed with appropriate quality assurance verifications.  In addition, as part of the accreditation process with the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, NCCPA was required to provide detailed information on how the Pilot would be administered. Modifying the processes and system to allow PAs to complete the remaining questions for the year would not be consistent with the principles of the longitudinal process, would make it impossible to conduct the analyses needed to make the Pilot as meaningful for PAs as possible, and would not be in compliance with information reported to the NCCA for our national accreditation.

12) I may not be able to complete Pilot questions now. What should I do? 

We understand that personal and professional circumstances may impede your ability to focus on competing demands, at this time. As we’ve shared, PILOT is a time sensitive program that terminates at the end of this year and will help inform the Board’s thinking about PANRE after PILOT. Consequently, it is essential that we open each quarter on schedule and complete the Pilot in 2020. We encourage you to please do your best to complete as many questions as possible each quarter, as soon as possible. Please don’t wait until the last minute. PAs have been making great progress on this quarter’s Pilot questions, and the NCCPA staff will continue to monitor participation as the quarter progresses.  Last quarter, one week was added to the deadline, and we will keep you informed if this quarter’s deadline is extended due to the unusual circumstances many PAs are experiencing due to the COVID-19 crisis.

13) I have a unique situation regarding my certification. What should I do? 

NCCPA considers exceptions to Policy (ETP) based on extenuating circumstances. If you have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are unable to meet requirements outside of what NCCPA has already provided, you may submit an ETP. Please note, it is at NCCPA’s discretion to grant or deny requests and submitting an ETP does not guarantee approval. Supporting documentation will be required in order to consider an ETP. For detailed information on submitting an ETP, click here.

14) The first administration for the CAQ exams was scheduled for April 6-11, 2020.  Now that some test centers have reopened, will I be able to take a CAQ exam during that time? 

Due to the limited number of test centers that have reopened and the limited number of testing appointments available, the current plan is to maintain the September administration of the CAQs for this year and go back to the Spring and Fall administrations next year.  If you applied for the Spring 2020 administration and have not requested a transfer of your application to the September administration, you may do so by sending an email to examadmin@nccpa.net or specialty CAQ@nccpa.net.

PROVISIONAL CERTIFICATION

1) Can NCCPA grant certification (provisional or temporary certification) to recent graduate PAs who are unable to sit for PANCE during the time that Pearson VUE testing centers are closed?

Although we understand your desire as a new graduate to obtain certification as soon as possible after graduation, that is not possible without passing PANCE.  Pearson VUE’s decision to close test centers was based on concern for the safety and well-being of candidates who test at their centers and the recent requirements and recommendations by federal, state, and local governments. This decision was made in light of the current health care pandemic, which has temporarily impacted PAs’ ability to sit for PANCE at least until April 16 and potentially longer.  NCCPA is working with Pearson to reinstate testing as soon as possible.  It is likely that any initial test center re-openings would be on a limited scale, and we will keep PAs informed of any new development.

NCCPA staff and Board of Directors appreciate PAs’ concerns with the delay and the shared desire of recent graduates to become licensed as soon as possible after completing their PA programs. Presently, there are no alternatives available until the centers reopen.  As a national certification body responsible for the integrity of the examination programs for the PA profession it is important to maintain the standardization and security that the Pearson centers provide for all PANCE administrations.  Demonstrating a baseline of medical knowledge by passing an exam that has been developed and administered in compliance with industry standards is the basis for earning initial PA certification.

Medical licensure and regulation are governed at the state level. We have been informed that some states issue temporary licenses or limited permits, under certain conditions, especially in situations like the one we are currently experiencing, with the federal and many state governments having declared a state of emergency. We recommend that any PAs seeking licensure should contact the licensing body in their respective state to find out if there are options available.  You can find additional information on state licensure and temporary licenses on the AAPA website.


REINSTATING CERTIFICATION

1) Can NCCPA reinstate certification to PAs whose certification has expired and are unable to sit for PANRE to regain certification?

Due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, NCCPA may be able to approve a PA’s request for an Exception to Policy (ETP) for certification to be reinstated, without taking PANRE to regain certification, if the certification expired on January 31, 2020, for not logging CME credits and/or remitting a fee.  NOTE: If certification expired due to not passing PANRE, PAs must regain certification by taking and passing PANRE. For detailed information on submitting an ETP, click here.  

2) I am a retired PA who has taken and passed the PANRE multiple times, but I decided to let my NCCPA certification lapse when I retired.  Can you reinstate my certification so that I may help during this crisis?

Although we commend your desire to help with the current crisis, we cannot reinstate your certification until you meet the requirements, which would include earning/logging Continuing Medical Education credits and passing PANRE. 

Medical licensure and regulation are governed at the state level. We have been informed that some states issue temporary licenses or limited permits, under certain conditions, especially in situations like the one we are currently experiencing, with the federal and many state governments having declared a state of emergency. We recommend that any PAs seeking to regain certification so that they can apply for licensure should contact the licensing body in their respective state to find out if there are options available, such as a temporary license or limited permit.

3) Can NCCPA reinstate certification to PAs whose certification has been revoked to assist with the national emergency?

NCCPA is unable to reinstate certification following a non-permanent revocation without re-establishing eligibility for NCCPA certification. We appreciate and understand your desire to help during this national emergency. However, in order to re-establish eligibility for NCCPA certification, you must meet the requirements and submit an application for re-establishment. Click here and visit Section II. D. for more detailed information regarding the requirements for re-establishment.

CME/ RECERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

1) AAPA announced the cancelation of the in-person AAPA conference in May and my state has canceled its in-person CME events too. Will the deadline for earning and logging Category I CME be extended?

Our Board of Directors and staff are closely monitoring this rapidly changing situation and the impact on Certified PAs. Many CME providers are offering opportunities to earn CME credits through online resources and virtual conferences.  Some providers are postponing conferences for dates later this year. Please continue to  research opportunities to earn CME credits from your education providers and   continue to check our website for news and announcements related to COVID-19.

 

2) Can I submit an Exception to Policy request if I am unable to meet my requirements due to the COVID-19 national emergency?

NCCPA considers exceptions to policy (ETP) based on extenuating circumstances. If you have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are unable to meet requirements outside of what NCCPA has already provided, you may submit an ETP. Please note, it is at NCCPA’s discretion to grant or deny requests and submitting an ETP does not guarantee approval. Supporting documentation will be required in order to consider an ETP. For detailed information on submitting an ETP, click here.

MISCELLANEOUS

1) At our institution, we have a limited supply of PPE (masks, gloves, etc.) and are risking exposure.  Can you point us in the right direction for help?

You may locate information related to the PPE shortage by visiting your state medical board website and also contact your employer.


PREVIOUS NCCPA COMMUNICATIONS ON THE CORONAVIRUS






LICENSURE/TEMPORARY LICENSURE

1) How is PA practice regulated? How do I get a PA license?

PA practice is regulated by licensing boards in each state. (PAs in the military undergo a federal privilege process.) In most states, PA licenses are issued through the medical board; although in some states, PAs are licensed through osteopathic and physician assistant licensing boards. Each state determines the requirements needed to obtain and maintain licensure for that state.  You may contact the state in which you plan to obtain licensure to obtain information about their licensure requirements.

2) Does my state grant temporary PA license?

NCCPA has been informed that some states grant temporary licenses for PAs.  Requirements for PA licenses, including provision and temporary licenses, are regulated by each state licensing board. Current situations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic may have also caused states to revise their requirements for licensure. You should contact your state licensing board directly for more detailed information on licensure requirements, particularly during the national emergency.

You can read additional information here.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Pearson Vue Coronavirus Updates

Important test delivery information pertaining to the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Pearson Vue

 

 


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AAPA COVID-19 Resources

PA State laws and regulations (AAPA login required), summary of states offering temporary license prior to certification, and tools and resources  to help you continue to practice medicine safely and effectively, while keeping your own health in mind from AAPA

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PAEA Coronavirus Resources

Information for PAEA members on the developing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and how it is affecting U.S. educational institutions and students on rotations in the U.S. and abroad

 

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