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 frontlines of combating the coronavirus pandemic, and we offer our sincere gratitude for the sacrifices that you have made, and all that you are doing to ensure that our nation overcomes this health care crisis.

We also know that many of you may have questions and concerns regarding how this will impact certification/recertification efforts, and offer the responses below 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) When will Pearson VUE reopen its test centers so that I can test?

Pearson VUE has reopened some centers to be able to deliver exams to candidates who are essential medical service providers, such as the PAs.  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.

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, as situations rapidly change with how this pandemic impacts different areas of our country, the list of open centers may be revised as additional centers are added or as others may close. Please continue to check for appointment availability often as Pearson VUE works to increase availability as quickly as possible.

If you have applied for PANCE or PANRE and have received your exam acknowledgement notice, please visit Pearson VUE’s web site at pearsonvue.com to schedule (or reschedule if your exam date was previously canceled) your exam online.  If you should need to contact Pearson VUE by phone, please be patient as they are experiencing longer wait times that usual due to the level of support needed during this situation.

2) 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.

3) 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.

4) Has Pearson VUE implemented any additional safety measures to help address COVID-19 concerns?

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 also 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.  Candidates are allowed to bring a face mask and/or protective gloves to wear during their exam appointment if they 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. 


5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

8) 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 just announced the cancelation of the AAPA conference in May. My state cancelled its CME program too. Will the deadline for earning and logging Category I CME be extended?

At this point, it is still early for NCCPA to determine a definitive answer to this question, as the situation with the COVID-19 changes rapidly.  Please know that the NCCPA Board of Directors and staff are closely monitoring this situation and the impact on certified PAs.  As any additional decisions are made and any new information is available, we will be sure to keep PAs informed.  In the interim, a number of CME providers offer opportunities to earn credits through online resources, and some of them are offered at no or little cost.  We suggest researching those opportunities while you await responses and updates from NCCPA and your CME providers. Also, please 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

4/2/20







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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