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NCCPA Announces Permanent Alternative to PANRE, PANRE-LA

NCCPA is pleased to announce that beginning in 2023, PAs will have two options for their recertification assessment. The traditional PANRE that is administered at Pearson VUE test centers will remain as one option, and NCCPA will also launch an official alternative longitudinal, take-at-home process.

“This announcement comes after a multi-year investigation looking into all aspects of the recertification process. The investigation included researching current recertification assessment trends, knowledge retention, adult learning, and feedback from various stakeholder groups. However, the most significant initiatives concentrated on the PA profession—convening focus groups, conducting profession-wide surveys, developing, and implementing a Pilot assessment, and then collecting feedback from PAs who participated in the Pilot. The wealth of data gathered through these efforts was used to inform the framework for the new recertification alternative,” said NCCPA President and CEO Dawn Morton-Rias, Ed.D., PA-C.

Over 18,000 PAs participated in the Pilot Alternative to PANRE in 2019-2020. Over 98% of PAs continued in the process for the full two-year period, and 97.5% of them passed. Throughout that process, PAs provided feedback through focus groups and quarterly surveys.

The new recertification process, PANRE-LA, incorporates elements of a longitudinal assessment and is designed to help PAs identify and address knowledge gaps in core medical content. It removes some of the stress and anxiety of the recertification process.

In 2019, after years of investigation and gathering feedback from PAs, NCCPA adopted a new content blueprint for the recertification exams—one that focuses on core medical knowledge versus the more general blueprint used for PANCE. The core medical blueprint has been updated based on the practice analysis conducted earlier this year and includes detailed information on the diseases and disorders and knowledge levels that will be covered on the test center PANRE and the longitudinal PANRE-LA.

“The PANRE-LA is similar to the Pilot, but we’ve made it more “user-friendly” based on feedback received from PAs who participated in the Pilot,” said NCCPA Vice President of Research and Exam Programs Sheila Mauldin.

So, what does the new PANRE-LA look like?  Here’s an overview:

  • Each quarter, 25 questions will be administered in an online format that PAs can take anywhere, anytime, and on any compatible device. Each question will have a five-minute time limit, and PAs may use online or printed references to help inform their answer selection.
  • Before opening an exam question, PAs will be provided information on the content category that will be assessed and can decide to move forward with opening the question or defer it until later in the quarter. This way PAs know in advance what content area will be coming up in case they want to review the exam blueprint topics or reference materials before opening the question.
  • Immediate feedback will be provided to PAs to let them know if the answer they submitted was correct, and they will be provided a rationale and references that can be accessed for additional information. The content of questions that have been completed and the rationales will be available throughout the process so PAs can review it anytime, at their convenience.
  • PAs will have three years to complete the new process. During the 12 available quarters, PAs will be required to complete eight quarters and may skip up to four quarters. This allows PAs more flexibility to participate in quarters that fit best with their schedules.
  • There are benefits for getting started right away and working straight through. PAs who complete the first eight quarters may be able to finish the process in two years, if they reach the passing standard. PAs who have not met the passing standard may continue in the program, and scores will be recalculated at the end of each subsequent quarter, using the best eight quarters.  This provides PAs an opportunity to improve their performance before the end of the 12-quarter process.
  • PAs will apply for the PANRE-LA process in the year six of their certification maintenance cycle and the exam questions are administered in years 7-9. As previously noted, one of the foundational principles of the PANRE-LA process is to help PAs identify and close core medical knowledge gaps, and NCCPA anticipates that only a very small percent of PAs will not reach the passing standard after completing the PANRE-LA. However, another benefit of this process is that PAs will still have up to three opportunities to take and pass PANRE in the tenth year of their recertification cycle before their certification expires.

Morton-Rias shared, “The PANRE-LA process helps PAs identify and close knowledge gaps. It reduces the stress and anxiety that comes with taking a test.  PAs don’t have to schedule time away from work to travel to test centers and can take the exam at their convenience. They can use references to help find the answers and grow their knowledge. Plus, they will be able to earn CME for participating in the process. Our goal was to develop a meaningful and less stress-inducing process for PAs to demonstrate their ongoing core medical knowledge, and we are excited about the new PANRE-LA.”

The application period will open later this year for PAs who are due to recertify in 2024, 2025, and 2026 and want to participate in this new process. The registration period will close November 30, 2022, and the first block of exam questions will be available in January 2023.

More specific information on the recertification options will be provided to the groups of PAs who eligible to apply in 2022. If you have any questions, please refer to the PANRE-LA FAQs. You may also email us or send a text message to 678.417.8101. Over the next few months, we will continue to update the FAQs to provide additional details on the PANRE-LA process.