NCCPA is committed to making its website accessible to all individuals. Please click here to review our Accessibility Statement.
Frequently Asked Questions
We can provide verification of certification over the phone (678.417.8100), but we need to receive requests for the release of scores online or in writing. You can sign in to your personal record and choose Certification Info Release, email us your request (including your name, NCCPA ID number and to whom it should be sent) or fax or mail your request.
To make name changes, sign in to your personal certification record, click on the “My Account” link, and follow the instructions from there. A name change is not final until NCCPA receives a copy of your valid drivers license or passport. Or you can scan and email () or fax (678-417-8135) a copy of your valid drivers license or passport requesting the change and one of our staff members will update your record within 1 to 2 business days.
PAs and PA students can initiate SMS messages to NCCPA regarding CME requirements, password reset assistance, certification deadlines, and CME logging instructions, among other topics. During regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, text messages can be sent to 678-417-8101.
For optimum performance when using the NCCPA app, you will want to use one of the supported devices listed below:
- Android 9 Pie
- Android 10 Q
- IPhone 8
- IPhone X
- IPhone XR
- IPhone XS
- IPhone 11
- IPhone 12
- IPhone 13
- IPhone 14
- IPad with IOS 10.3 and up
Other devices may be suitable for accessing the app, but some functions may not perform as expected or at all, and NCCPA does not design, maintain, or test for devices that are not listed above.
The secure sign in areas of our website are unavailable during regularly scheduled maintenance windows, which usually occur every fourth Tuesday of the month beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. Exceptions to this schedule occur in November and December, when the maintenance window is the third Tuesday of the month beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. We will display a message on the sign in page of the website approximately two weeks prior to any scheduled maintenance window.
We may schedule additional downtime during the year, if required, and will provide as much advance notice as possible.
NCCPA recognizes that the AAPA House of Delegates has voted to change the title of the profession and that AAPA has changed the title of its organization. NCCPA continues to align its usage of the title of the profession with the title used in the state statutes authorizing PA practice. NCCPA continues to monitor amendments to those statutes, and will take the steps necessary in response to changes in any state statutes.
Yes, as conditions with the COVID-19 pandemic improve, Pearson VUE has been able to continue expanding their return to increased capacity for its test centers. You will find information on this when you go to the NCCPA page for exam scheduling on the Pearson VUE web site. Your health and safety are paramount for both NCCPA and Pearson VUE alike, and test center capacity is increased as soon as its deemed feasible based on local government guidance, business operations, staff availability, etc.
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. Also, because the situation continues to change as we progress through the pandemic, the list of open test centers and protocols that are implemented at the test centers may be revised. Please continue to check Pearson VUE’s web site for appointment availability and current protocols.
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.
To find an available center, go to https://home.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.
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 with the following information: Candidate ID, test program name, preferred test center and test date. Please allow 2-3 business days for a response.
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.
Are candidates required to wear facial masks at Pearson VUE test centers? Has Pearson Vue implemented safety measures due to COVID-19 concerns?
Yes, candidates are required to wear facial masks at all Pearson VUE test centers. You must bring a mask with you at your scheduled exam appointment or you will not be able to test. The mask must be properly worn to cover your nose and mouth. Please note, candidates will be asked to briefly remove the mask during the check-in process to verify identity and take a photo.
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. Presently, many centers are back to operating with full capacity. 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. You are also allowed to wear protective gloves during your exam appointment, if you wish to do so.
Pearson VUE makes every attempt to reach out to candidates who may be impacted by changes in test centers and protocol 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.
Can NCCPA administer the PANCE in the same online format that is used for the Alternative to PANRE Pilot?
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.
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.
Can I submit an Exception to Policy request if I am unable to meet my requirements due to the COVID-10 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.
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.
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.
Can NCCPA grant certification (provisional or temporary) to recent graduate PAs who are unable to sit for PANCE during the time that Pearson VUE testing centers are closed or if I have trouble scheduling a preferred exam date?
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 decisions on test center capacity is based on concern for the safety and well-being of candidates who test at their centers and the requirements and recommendations by federal, state, and local governments. Many test centers are functioning at full capacity, and NCCPA has also worked with Pearson VUE to expand the potential number of test centers available for PAs.
NCCPA staff and Board of Directors appreciate PAs’ concerns and the shared desire of recent graduates to become licensed as soon as possible after completing their PA programs. Presently, there are no alternatives for obtaining certification other than taking and passing the exam. 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.
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.
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.
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 scroll down to visit Section II. D. for more detailed information regarding the requirements for re-establishment.
Practice Exam FAQs
The Practice Exams are designed for PAs who are eligible for an NCCPA examination. PAs should use the practice exam as a tool to assess their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to familiarize themselves with the types of questions they’ll see on the actual examinations. Practice exams are available for PANCE, PANRE and each of the CAQ specialty exams.
The NCCPA Practice Exams are provided for educational purposes only. They are not intended to predict your performance on PANCE, PANRE or a CAQ, and you should not interpret your results as a prediction of your performance. The results may assist you in identifying possible strengths or weaknesses in the various content areas that make up the exams content blueprints. The content blueprints are used as a guideline when questions are selected for the Practice Exams. However, because the Practice Exam has fewer questions than PANCE, PANRE and CAQ exams, the content areas contain a smaller number of questions than on PANCE, PANRE and CAQ exams. For example, approximately 3% of the PANCE content blueprint is comprised of hematology questions. Thus, on the 120-question Practice Exam, there would be only 3 to 4 questions in this content area. It is important to keep in mind that performance on a small number of questions is less reliable than with a larger number of questions. Your performance is based on the limited number of items sampled in the Practice Exam and should not be interpreted as a predictor of actual performance on PANCE, PANRE or a CAQ exam.
The content of the Practice Exams is based on the content blueprint for PANCE, PANRE or applicable CAQ exam. However, there may be some differences in the exact percentages covered in the content areas on the specific Practice Exam form.
Each PANCE or PANRE Practice Exam includes 120 multiple-choice questions divided into two sections of 60 questions each. PAs can choose time intervals based on their needs. Without testing accommodations, PAs have 60 minutes to complete each section for a total of two hours of exam time.
The CAQ Practice Exams include 60 questions per CAQ exam with 60 minutes to complete the practice exam.
A testing accommodations option of time and a half or double time is available for all Practice Exams.
Like PANCE, PANRE, and the CAQ Exams, the Practice Exams provide approximately one minute per question, if testing accommodations are not indicated. With testing accommodations, the PA would have one and one-half or two minutes per question, dependent on the testing accommodations selected.
Yes, these are questions that were used on previous administrations of PANCE and PANRE. However, keep in mind that exam questions used on Practice Exams will no longer appear on PANCE and PANRE.
Each Practice Exam costs $50, which must be paid by credit card when you apply.
PAs can access the Practice Exam application online by signing in to their online record 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once registered, PAs will have 180 days to complete the Practice Exam online.
We like our users to have the best possible experience when using our website and recommend using the latest version of one of the supported browsers below.
- Google Chrome
- Apple Safari
- Microsoft Edge (Modern)
- Mozilla Firefox
- Any other modern web browser compatible with HTML5 and CSS3
You will need to temporarily turn off your pop-up blocker to access a Practice Exam. To learn how to do this, click here.
No. Unlike the actual PANCE, PANRE and CAQ exams, the Practice Exam allows you to stop working on the Practice Exam and return later. You will not lose any time; and when you log back into the Practice Exam, you’ll be returned to the last question that you had previously accessed. All responses are saved when you access the next question, so taking a break will not cause you to lose any answers you’ve already entered. It is important to note that you should not select “Complete” on a Practice Exam if you have not completed the exam and plan to return at another time to finish the exam.
No. The Practice Exams are designed to provide participants with feedback about their relative strengths and weaknesses in the content areas on the exam and to gain familiarity with the exam format. Specific information for why an answer is correct or incorrect is not provided.
As soon as you complete the Practice Exam a performance profile, which graphically displays your relative strengths and weaknesses in the content areas that make up the examination content blueprint, will be available online in your online record.
You’ll always be able to access your performance profile from the Practice Exam overview page in your online record.
PAs who are eligible to take an NCCPA examination may take as many Practice Exams as there are available and may repurchase exams if they want to take them more than once.
Once your Practice Exam has been scored, you CANNOT review the questions or your answers. However, while you are working within each section, you can change answers or mark them for review. When you exit a section, your responses have been saved and submitted making your answers final. You can review and print your performance profile at any time after completing the Practice Exam.
Refunds will not be issued for a Practice Exam.
The system records all answers each time you access a question and provide an answer. If you are disconnected from the Internet or logged out of the Practice Exam program, you will re-start the Practice Exam on the same exam question that was last seen when you sign back into the Practice Exam.
No. The Practice Exams are designed to mirror the exam environment and timing constraints of an actual exam. If you need to take a break during the Practice Exam, you have the convenience of being able to log out of the Practice Exam without losing any of your time. When you log back in, you have the same amount of time remaining to finish the block of questions. However, keep in mind that this is not the same for PANCE, PANRE or CAQ Exams. For the actual PANCE, PANRE or CAQ Exams, you are not able to take any breaks within a section of the exam. If you anticipate qualifying for testing accommodations, you are encouraged to take the Practice Exam with the appropriate testing accommodations timing parameters.
No. The only part of the Practice Exam that you’ll be able to print will be your performance profile that is available after completing the exam.
No, NCCPA’s Practice Exams are not preapproved for Category 1 CME credit. However, the Practice Exam can be submitted for Category 2 CME credit.
Testing Accommodations FAQs
Yes. NCCPA complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws and provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations for examinees with documented disabilities and for other examinees with qualifying medical conditions that may be temporary or are not otherwise covered by the ADA.
For detailed information please review the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations.
For PANCE, PANRE and CAQ administrations, accommodations that have been made include, but are not limited to, the following:
- extending exam time
- frequent breaks
- separate (individual) exam room
- medical device not on the approved medical/comfort aids list
For detailed information please review the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations .
Information regarding testing accommodations can be found here. In addition, detailed information regarding requesting accommodations and the required documentation is provided in the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations. You may also want to view the testing accommodations request process flowchart which provides an overview of the steps in the process.
Your request for testing accommodations must be submitted when applying for an examination. However, you may want to review the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations
Documentation of a disability or qualifying medical condition from a qualified medical provider must be provided to NCCPA. The documentation must include specific accommodations required and how they would compensate your limitations. The accommodation requested or recommended by the qualified medical provider should not be based on preferences but on disability-driven reasons, nor should it over-accommodate the exam taker.
Detailed information regarding the required documentation can be found in the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations document which is available by clicking here.
Can I apply for testing accommodations after I have already submitted an online examination application?
Yes. You must submit your request in writing to have your current application withdrawn, which will cancel your scheduled exam date if you have one. You will have to re-apply and choose the request for accommodations and submit required documentation.
If I previously applied for and was granted testing accommodations for the same disability/medical condition, do I need to submit all the required documentation again?
Accommodation needs can change over time; a prior history of diagnosis and accommodation, without demonstration of a current need, does not in and of itself warrant the provision of an accommodation. Approval of an accommodation request will not automatically be based on the same accommodation previously approved. For every examination application, the Testing Accommodations Request Form, which is available during the exam application process, must be completed and submitted to NCCPA at the time of application.
If previous documentation has been submitted, NCCPA will review that documentation along with the new accommodations request form. Depending on the amount of time since the previous testing accommodation request, the date of the documentation and any changes in the nature or extent of the disability and accommodation request, additional documentation may be required.
For detailed information see the Application for Subsequent Exam Accommodations section of the Policies and Procedures for Examination Accommodations document.
If I was granted testing accommodations at my PA program am I automatically granted accommodations for my NCCPA examination?
No. While documentation of prior approved accommodation(s) in an educational or academic institution or other testing organization will be considered, approval of such does not in and of itself guarantee approval of the requested accommodation(s) by NCCPA.
PAs are typically notified of the testing accommodations decision within 3-5 days after NCCPA has received all required documentation.
Yes. Access to the documentation is restricted to only those individuals who are involved with processing your Testing Accommodations request.
Do I need to request testing accommodations for comfort and/or medical aids such as pills, inhalers, medicine and medical devices, etc.?
Click here for a list of comfort and medical aids that do not require a pre-approved special accommodations request.
No, these will be provided by the exam center.
No, there are no flags or indicators on your score report, certificate, or credentialing verification to third party requestors that an examinee had received testing accommodations.
Mobile App FAQs
All currently certified PAs can download and use the NCCPA Mobile App.
The tutorial will be available the first time the app is launched, but will not appear when accessing the app on subsequent visits.
Use the voice recognition option on your device.
Unfortunately, you cannot download, save or print a CME transcript from the app. However, you can sign in to your record at www.nccpa.net and do those things.
Unfortunately, you cannot print a CME certificate from the app. However, you can sign in to your record at www.nccpa.net and print one.
Because the app is new, we would recommend that you keep a copy of your Category 1 certificates for the current cycle and the previous cycle, in case you are selected for an audit.
Yes, you can view your CME certificates at www.nccpa.net by signing in to your record, in addition to your mobile device.
Press and hold the picture icon and you will receive the message “Do you want to delete this attachment?” and you will be given the option to click “OK” or “Cancel”.
Click on the CME credit details option and this will show you the specific CME you have logged.
No, the app only functions in portrait mode from an iPhone and landscape from an iPad.
Yes, click on the tutorial button within the app.
No. While you can apply for PANRE-LA and answer questions on a mobile device, you must do so using a supported browser.
Breaches of NCCPA’s Code of Conduct may be cause for disciplinary review. Disciplinary actions taken at the conclusion of that review may include a letter of concern, formal censures, permanent and non-permanent revocation of certification and/or eligibility for certification, or revocation of PA-C Emeritus designation or eligibility for the designation, and/or other actions deemed appropriate by NCCPA, including, but not limited to, administrative suspension, order the PA to retake an exam at a time and place and in a format determined by NCCPA, removal from participation in the Alternative to PANRE Pilot, refuse to release exam scores, deny an application for certification, recertification, or Certificate of Added Qualification, revoke a Certification of Added Qualification, recommend to NCCPA’s Board of Directors that legal action be taken.
Yes. Once final, reportable disciplinary actions such as censures and revocations will be automatically reported to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), all state medical boards in which the PA holds a license, and the federal government/military, if applicable. These decisions may also be reported to the PA’s employer, and other interested parties, including individuals seeking information about the PA’s certification or PA-C Emeritus designation, as solely determined by the NCCPA and in compliance with NCCPA’s Information Disclosure Policy. Additionally, third parties may request a disciplinary report via our online Verify PA Certification page that will include reportable discipline issued to a PA since 2012.
Yes. NCCPA retains the right to impose discipline under its Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters even if the PA’s certification expires or the PA retires from practice, provided that the violation triggering the disciplinary proceeding occurred when the PA was certified, seeking certification, or applying for or holding the PA-C Emeritus designation.
Yes. Certified PAs, PAs seeking certification, and PAs with the PA-C Emeritus designation may be subject to disciplinary action for matters stemming from irregular behavior; fraudulent credentials; legal, regulatory and credentialing actions; or violation of the NCCPA Code of Conduct. These matters may be related or unrelated to PA practice.
In accordance with NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters, PA’s are required to report to NCCPA any adverse regulatory or credentialing actions, within 30 days of issuance and any adverse legal actions within 30 days of conviction of any felony or misdemeanor, including a guilty plea or no contest plea. For more information, refer to section I.A.3 of NCCPA’s disciplinary policy.
While we provide confirmation of the receipt of a complaint, NCCPA has the sole discretion to determine which complaints should be pursued, how they should be pursued, and what action, if any, should be taken, in accordance with NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters. The outcome of NCCPA’s review of a complaint may or may not be made public.
If your certification has been revoked non-permanently, you may request reestablishment of your eligibility for NCCPA certification if you meet the requirements for reestablishment outlined in Section II.D. of NCCPA’s Policies and Procedures for PA Disciplinary Matters.
No. The PA-C and Physician Assistant-Certified marks are legally protected and can only be used by PA’s who are currently certified by NCCPA. It the responsibility of the PA to discontinue use of this designation if they have lost certification and inform their state medical board, employer, and other interested parties that they are no longer certified. Students graduating from a PA Program but have not yet passed PANCE are not eligible to use this designation until such time that they have obtained NCCPA certification. Use of these marks when not certified may result in disciplinary and/or legal action by NCCPA.
Yes. If NCCPA determines that a reportable disciplinary action should be taken or that an Exception to Policy request must be denied, the Notice of Adverse Decision shall inform the PA that the PA may accept the adverse action or submit a timely Request for Review in accordance with NCCPA’s Review and Appeal Policies and Procedures
When responding to NCCPA's background questions, am I required to report an incident that has already been reviewed by NCCPA?
No. You do not need to report actions/incidents that have been previously viewed by NCCPA. Although you may receive the background questions during each renewal, you will only be required to report new incidents to NCCPA not those previously reviewed.
When responding to NCCPA's background questions, should I report any incidents that were resolved prior to my entry into my PA program?
No. You are not required to report any incidents that occurred and were resolved prior to your entry into the PA Program. It is suggested that those incidents be reported directly to your PA Program.
You may use the Verify PA Certification page to verify the current status of a PA’s certification. If you find that a PAs certification has been revoked, or that there are other disciplinary actions present, you may request a disciplinary report for additional information. Requests for additional information will be processed in compliance with NCCPA’s Information Disclosure Policy.
In accordance with the policies for CAQ, NCCPA may revoke a CAQ when probation or other terms and conditions are placed on a PAs state license or ability to practice. To become eligible for a CAQ and remain eligible, you must hold a current and unencumbered PA license.
Exceptions to Policy FAQs
No. The pilot application registration window closed on June 30, 2018. There are no eligibility exceptions.
Can exceptions to policy be given for the Alternative to PANRE Pilot program, even if I have extenuating circumstances?
Requests for exceptions to the eligibility and/or participation requirements for Pilot are not considered, even if there are extenuating circumstances. However, those who are withdrawn from the Pilot due to their inability to meet the requirements, will be given a one-year extension to take the traditional PANRE.
Within approximately 45 days of receipt.
No. You must graduate from a PA program accredited by ARC-PA or one of its predecessors in order to become eligible to sit for the initial certifying exam, PANCE. NCCPA does not entertain requests for exceptions to this policy as an ETP.
Requests for recertification extensions may be submitted as early as January of your recertification year. Requests for extensions of PANCE Eligibility must be submitted after all attempts or years have been exhausted, whichever occurs sooner. All other requests may be submitted and considered at any time. You may submit a request for an exception to policy by signing into your online certification record at www.nccpa.net.
As provided in NCCPA’s policy for ETP’s, financial hardship does not qualify as an extenuating circumstance; unless it is related to an extenuating circumstance.
This is a non-eligible request.
You may request a second extension if you are experiencing a new circumstance not already considered or if your extenuating circumstance continues to be an obstacle or has worsened since the previous extension was granted.
Should I submit medical records as supporting documentation for an exception to policy request related to a medical issue?
Submitting medical records are not required and are discouraged. Supporting documentation for a medical issue may be provided through a letter from a treating provider.
Note: All circumstances must be supported with the submission of verifiable supporting documentation. The circumstance must have occurred during the timeframe in question and must have impacted your ability to complete one or more of NCCPA’s requirements.
You may refer to the policies and procedures for ETPs for more detailed information on submission of ETP requests and supporting documents.
Board Certification FAQs
In May 2022, NCCPA’s Board of Directors approved the use of the term Board Certification when referring to PANCE, PANRE, the PA-C credential, and NCCPA Certification where appropriate. There has been a longstanding informal practice among PAs of referring to PANCE and PANRE as “board exams.” NCCPA has determined that the Board Certification terminology is consistent with our certification procedure and the generalist credential awarded to PAs. NCCPA also updated its Code of Conduct to make clear that PA-Cs must not use the term “board certified” to convey or describe specialty certification. Since the Summer of 2022, NCCPA has been working to integrate the “board certified” terminology throughout its policies, documentation, and messaging, so you may see the term more frequently in the coming months.
No. NCCPA Board Certification is synonymous with NCCPA Certification. The PA-C credential has not changed. For many years, NCCPA certification has been referred to informally as “board certification” and is frequently cited as such in credentialing documents. PA-Cs may also choose to continue to refer to themselves as “Certified,” rather than “Board Certified,” if they prefer.
No. NCCPA Board Certification is synonymous with NCCPA Certification and does not convey a specialty certification. The Board Certification terminology more definitively represents and communicates the rigorous process PAs engage in to demonstrate medical knowledge, clinical skills and competencies, and it refers to the generalist credential earned by all NCCPA Certified PAs upon entry to the profession and maintained throughout their careers. As stated in NCCPA’s Code of Conduct, Board Certified PAs may not use the term to convey specialty certification.
For physicians and nurse practitioners, the term “board certified” refers to a specialty credential, unlike the generalist credential NCCPA issues to PA-Cs. Board Certified PAs must avoid holding themselves out as “board certified” in a specialty area. The context of a communication, especially when working alongside other clinicians who hold specialty certifications, may require that Board Certified PAs speak carefully when describing their credentials. For example, if a PA-C is present when a physician introduces herself to a patient as a “Board Certified Plastic Surgeon,” it would be inappropriate for the PA to tell the patient only “I am also Board Certified.” In context, that phrasing could imply that the PA also holds specialty certification in plastic surgery. Instead, in that situation, the PA could appropriately tell the patient, “I am Board Certified by NCCPA.”
Since NCCPA Board Certification is synonymous with NCCPA Certification, a new certificate is not needed.
As a result of officially integrating the term “Board Certification,”- will there be any changes to NCCPA’s examinations?
No, integrating the term “Board Certification” does not have any impact on any of NCCPA’s examinations. NCCPA follows industry standards and best practices for developing, administering, and scoring its examinations, and those processes will continue. For many years, the term “board” has been used unofficially by PAs, credentialers, employers, CME providers, and others when referring to NCCPA Certification. The approval of “Board certification” as synonymous with “NCCPA Certification” provides official recognition for this terminology, but nothing changed with any of the examinations due to this action.
How does integrating “Board Certification” affect the NCCPA Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) programs?
Integrating the term “Board Certification” does not have any impact on the CAQ program. The CAQ program is a voluntary process that Board Certified PAs may choose to pursue to earn an added qualification in their area of practice. PAs must maintain their NCCPA Board Certification in order to be eligible to participate in the CAQ program.
NCCPA Board Certification refers to NCCPA’s generalist credential (PA-C) that all PAs are required to earn as a condition of initial licensure, and that the vast majority of PAs maintain throughout their careers either to satisfy license renewal requirements in their state, in response to employer expectations, or voluntarily as a way to demonstrate and ensure they maintain continuing clinical competencies in the core current medical knowledge all practicing PAs are expected to have. The CAQ is a certificate of added qualification in a specific practice discipline. Board Certified PAs may choose to earn a CAQ to demonstrate additional expertise in a medical specialty in which the PA has met the minimum number of hours of experience. The CAQ should never be described by a PA as a specialty Board Certification.
PAs holding Board certification may indicate that with the “PA-C” designation and/or list themselves as “NCCPA Board Certified.” PAs who also have earned a CAQ may use the designation that matches the CAQ practice discipline, such as “[Name], PA-C, CAQ-EM” or “[Name], NCCPA Board Certified, CAQ-Emergency Medicine.”
Title Change FAQs
When is the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) going to change its name to incorporate the title “physician associate”?
NCCPA acknowledges the May 2021 decision by the AAPA House of Delegates to change the name of the profession from “physician assistant” to “physician associate.” As AAPA shared in its original announcement, implementation of the title change will take time. PA practice, including the name of the profession, is regulated at the state level. NCCPA also recognizes that the title of the PA profession, the PA-C credential, the national certifying body, and the certifying exam are specifically named in many state statutes and regulations. A decision by NCCPA to change its name at this time could thus have unintended consequences on PA licensure and employment. Although AAPA, as a voluntary membership organization, can lead the way in defining its vision of the profession’s name, NCCPA must be careful not to make decisions that could create licensure challenges for PA-Cs.
NCCPA regards the titles “physician assistant,” “physician associate,” and “PA” as synonymous.
The name of the profession and the credential that is required for initial licensure are regulated by state and federal regulations. As illustrated in AAPA’s title change guidance, PAs are cautioned against utilizing a professional title that is inconsistent with state regulation.
To date, one state (Wisconsin) has adopted an emergency rule that recognizes that the title “Physician Associate” means the same as “Physician Assistant” and ensures that PAs in Wisconsin calling themselves Physician Associates are subject to the existing Physician Assistant regulations. As of December 1, 2022, no state has changed its practice act to use the title Physician Associate instead of Physician Assistant. Because the PA profession is a licensed profession, changing the profession’s title in statutes and regulations in each state and the District of Columbia will take time. In the meantime, NCCPA has adopted policies that affirm the interchangeability of the terms Physician Associate, Physician Assistant and PA for purposes of NCCPA’s own policies. NCCPA remains committed to supporting the profession and the implementation of the new title and will continue to monitor developments in this area. NCCPA wants to ensure that no PA is prevented from practicing owing to a discrepancy between the title of their certification, the credential awarded or the certifying body, and the title referenced in statute and regulation.
Each PA should consult applicable state law and their employers’ policies on this issue. PAs are cautioned against utilizing a professional title that is inconsistent with state regulation, please review AAPA’s title change guidance.
Is the integration of the new language around “Board Certification” tied to the physician associate name change?
No, the decision to integrate the term “Board” regarding certification was in response to the longstanding routine reference to PANCE as “the boards” and to NCCPA Certification as “Board Certification.” NCCPA took a deliberate look at the use of the term “Board Certification” and concluded incorporating this terminology aligns with how the term is being used on a widespread basis by PAs and even by others, such as credentialers, recruiters, CME providers, etc.