Demonstrating commitment to compassionate patient care, the health care team, & continued certification.

Maintain Certification

The 10-year certification maintenance process includes five two-year cycles during which all Certified PAs must log 100 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits online and submit a certification maintenance fee by 11:59 p.m. PT, December 31 of their certification expiration year.

Visit the pages below to learn more about recertification options, CME, how to regain certification, and more.

PANRE and Alternative to PANRE Pilot

About PANRE

Offered at testing centers throughout the U.S., the multiple-choice Physician Assistant National Recertifying Examination® (PANRE) is designed to assess core medical and surgical knowledge.

You are eligible to take the PANRE for recertification if you are in the ninth or tenth year of the certification maintenance cycle.

**PAs may take PANRE up to two times in the ninth year and up to three times in the tenth year, with a maximum of four total attempts.

PAs who lose certification must meet CME requirements and take and pass PANRE to regain it.

PANRE Registration

Eligible PAs can register for PANRE online; the exam registration fee is $350. You may schedule your exam anytime (depending on testing center availability) within the 180-day timeframe established for you to take the exam based on the successful submission of all required materials to NCCPA. The four-hour PANRE administration includes 240 multiple-choice questions administered in four blocks of 60 questions with 60 minutes to complete each block. There is a total of 45 minutes allotted for breaks between blocks, and you will be responsible for managing your break time. You will have 15 minutes to complete the PANRE tutorial.

PANRE Requirements

When registering for PANRE, please consider the following requirements:

  • You may only take PANRE once in any 90-day period. (The 90-day limit on PANRE attempts will be waived when (1) there are fewer than 90 days left in the tenth year and (2) you have not already exhausted all PANRE attempts available for the year. In such cases, one final attempt to pass the exam will be permitted.)
  • You have up to 180 days from the beginning of your exam timeframe to take the exam. These dates will be reflected in your exam application acknowledgment email.
  • If you apply late in the year to take the exam in the current year or late in your tenth year eligibility timeframe, your timeframe will be shorter than 180 days.

Alternative to PANRE Pilot

The Alternative to PANRE Pilot Program began in January 2019 and concluded in December 2020. PAs participating in the Pilot program were able to answer answered 25 test questions all at once or throughout the quarter, each quarter for two years – January 2019 through December 2020.

These multiple-choice questions (developed by PA colleagues) assessed core medical knowledge, the knowledge all PAs maintain regardless of the specialty or setting in which they work. Pilot participants were encouraged to answer the questions without consulting references to help identify any knowledge gaps.

Pilot participants received immediate feedback on whether they got the questions right or wrong and why the right answer was the best choice.  They were also provided with a list of references on the topic.

Feedback and other analyses will inform further decisions on the specifics of a permanent Alternative to PANRE. We anticipate that ultimately the new alternative will have similarities to the Pilot and will announce more detail once a final decision has been made.

PA-C Emeritus Designation

The PA-C Emeritus® designation was established in 2016 to honor PAs who have demonstrated longstanding commitment to the professionalism and standards required of Certified PAs but who are no longer clinically practicing and do not have the need to be certified any longer.

Eligibility Requirements for the PA-C Emeritus Designation

Applicants will be awarded the PA-C Emeritus designation if they meet the following requirements:

  • Are retired from clinical practice;
  • Have been certified by NCCPA at least 20 cumulative years during their PA career or have retired from practice due to permanent disability and have qualified for federal Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and/or disability retirement or long-term disability benefits*; and
  • Have no reportable actions in their NCCPA disciplinary history and no NCCPA disciplinary matter in any stage of review.

*Acceptable documentation is a statement, record or letter on official letterhead from one of the following: a treating physician/medical professional, a federal government agency which issues or provides disability benefits or a state vocational rehabilitation agency.

There is a one-time $50 application fee. Proceeds from the PA-C Emeritus program will benefit the PA Foundation scholarship program, expanding the NCCPA Endowed Scholarship that awards multiple scholarships each year with the ultimate aim of reducing health disparities.

Applications are accepted only from PAs who are currently certified, and the Emeritus designation will be awarded in conjunction with certification expiration.

Maintenance Requirements for the PA-C Emeritus Designation

Like NCCPA certification, the PA-C Emeritus designation shall be maintained on two-year, calendar year cycles. There is no renewal fee.

Maintenance requires completion of a reapplication process, which will include attestation that the PA continues to meet the requirements established for initial eligibility. The PA-C Emeritus designation shall be suspended if the PA regains certification, and may be restored upon expiration of the regained certification if the PA establishes that he or she continues to meet the requirements established for initial eligibility.

The PA-C Emeritus designation may be verified by any third party by going to “Verify PA Certification” under “Resources” in the toolbar at the top of this page.

Limitations on Use of the PA-C Emeritus Designation

The PA-C Emeritus designation is not the equivalent of PA-C certification. Those designated as PA-C Emeritus are not considered certified by NCCPA and may not hold themselves out as such.

The PA-C Emeritus designation may not be used in any clinical setting or in the context of any clinically-related interaction, including clinical volunteer service. This does not mean the PA-C Emeritus designees may not engage in clinical volunteer service. They simply may not identify themselves as a PA-C Emeritus in that setting. Doing so – or committing any other act that would trigger NCCPA disciplinary review for certified PAs — will result in review in accordance with NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters.

Sign in and go to “My Account” to apply.

Regaining Certification

PAs who have lost certification may regain it by fulfilling CME requirements and passing PANRE.

  • First sign in to your record and log, or verify that you have logged, at least 100 Category 1 CME credits earned within the two-year period ending on the date your PANRE application is submitted to NCCPA. For example, if you plan on applying for PANRE on March 1, 2021, your CME earning window will be March 1, 2019-March 1, 2021. You can apply any CME credits that you have previously earned within the timeframe mentioned above.
  • Then apply for PANRE and, after receiving your exam acknowledgement email, schedule your exam as soon as you desire to take it following certification expiration. (After that first attempt to regain certification, if unsuccessful on the exam you may take PANRE only one time in any single 90-day period.)

Exception: PAs who have lost eligibility for certification due to NCCPA disciplinary proceedings must first apply to reestablish eligibility.

Next steps?

You can log your CME credits, apply and pay for the exam online at your personal record.

Certification Maintenance Resources

Access tools to help you maintain your certification