You and Your Patients Deserve the Truth

As we consider the evolution of recertification, NCCPA will continue to work with PAs to protect the integrity of the profession. Let's remember that we share a joint goal--quality care to patients in an era when the healthcare industry wants and needs more from PAs - not less. Our board will weigh the substantial amount of input we have received as it discusses how to assure that our recertification processes are relevant, meaningful and manageable. In the meantime, in the interest of you and your patients, we cannot stand idly by and allow false statements to stand unrefuted. To remain silent would imply agreement and NOTHING is further from the truth.

Fact Checking: AAPA July 2016 Video Statement


Statement 1

Fact: PAs choose their specialty, now and always. Nothing in NCCPA’s testing requirements (today or ever) would change that. Over 70% of PAs are already working in specialties other than primary care – choices they made independent of NCCPA. Because PAs work in collaboration with physicians, most of whom specialize, it is logical that PAs also work and will continue to work in these complex and technical areas. NCCPA is considering changes to the recertification exam that – if pursued – would give PAs an opportunity to focus part of their testing on the content area they are most comfortable with; in no way would that “force PAs to choose a specialty.” 

Statement 2

Fact:  This is not true, and saying it again and again does not change the facts. The overwhelming preponderance of the evidence actually shows that periodic testing (like recertification exams) is good for health care providers and their patients. To say otherwise is to ignore a large body of reputable research or to distort findings. Just as importantly, there is no credible evidence that the opposite is true--that eliminating testing is good for patients or good for health care professions. A significant body of work actually demonstrates these 9 important points: 

1.    Medical knowledge grows and changes at a rapid pace.
2.    Performance on assessments of medical knowledge decline the further one is away from training.
3.    Certainly some, but not all, CME is effective at improving practice and outcomes; the type of CME that is effective tends to involve more effort and input on the part of the participant.
4.    Self-assessment of one’s areas of strengths and weakness is poor without external input such as examinations, and it is worse for those lower in ability than high in ability.
5.    When structured correctly, testing is a valuable learning tool that is more effective than study alone.
6.    Certification and recertification examinations are associated with improved practice.
7.    Feedback is critical to address misconceptions and can enhance learning.
8.    An effective recertification model is a comprehensive approach involving multiple aspects of continuous learning and assessment among other things.
9.    The public has high expectations of health care providers and relies on regulatory and certification agencies to put policies in place to provide assurance of the quality of preparation and maintenance of knowledge and skills. 

Explore the evidence for yourself at: The Evidence Base

Statement 3

Fact: This misrepresents the big picture. Although the House of Delegates of the AMA, a membership organization like AAPA, did call for an end to mandatory, secure recertifying exams, that does not signal the elimination of exams for physicians. The American Board of Medical Specialties, the umbrella organization for 24 physician certifying boards, rejected the AMA’s position against testing. However, like NCCPA, many of the ABMS boards are reviewing, developing and piloting alternative assessment models with a goal of making their exams more relevant and meaningful. This is an ongoing and evolving process, just like the current NCCPA exploration of potential changes to PANRE. Yet at this time the overwhelming majority of physicians take secure, proctored exams to keep their board certification. The ABMS stated: “National certifying and recertifying examinations evaluate certified physicians against an objective, national standard in a given specialty, which is important both to patients and to providers who are making credentialing and privileging decisions. It is a critical component of our profession’s commitment to self-regulation and to the public trust.”
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