Certification and recertification of physician associates: Everything you need to know about CME credits
Continuing medical education is mandatory for certification and recertification of physician associates. You probably know that by now. But did you know that there are a certain number and type of CME credits that you require? The American Academy of Physician Associates/Physician Assistants (AAPA) and the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) have clearly defined the requirements of CME credits for certification and recertification of physician assistants. If you are a physician assistant or physician associate, this blog clearly explains what is expected from you regarding CME credits. Read on to find out more.
The role of NCCPA and AAPA
As a physician associate or physician assistant, two organizations you will be bound to for as long as you practice are:
1.National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants
2.American Academy of Physician Associates/Physician Assistants.
Understanding the roles they play concerning CME is very important.
NCCPA is the only certifying organization for physician associates in the USA. The organization started as a non-profit organization and today provides certification programs. These programs reflect the standards for clinical knowledge and clinical reasoning. They also reflect other medical skills and professional behaviors that are mandatory for becoming and remaining a physician associate/physician assistant.
The AAPA is the national professional institute for physician associates and represents over 150,000 certified physician assistants working across all medical and surgical fields across the United States. AAPA educates and advocates and ensures professional and personal growth and the recognition of PAs.
What is the certification period for physician associates?
All physician associates must take a recertification exam every 10 years to maintain their national certification. As well as that, the PA license must be renewed every two years. It’s like this:
The 10-year maintenance certification period is broken down into five two-year cycles (5×2-year cycles). During each of these two-year cycles, the certified physician assistant must collect a minimum of 100 CME credits.
There’s one more thing. The CME credits collected must be very specific. NCCPA clearly states that of the 100 mandatory CME credits accumulated, a minimum of 50 credits must be Category 1 CME credits.
The remaining credits can be:
- Category I credits
- Category II credits
- A combination of Category I and Category II credits.
CME credits explained
CME is broadly classified as:
Types of Category I CME explained
Category I CME: Regular:
The CME courses must meet the criteria established by organizations that serve as accreditors/sponsors of CME activities. Courses that fall under this sub-category are mandatory for certification and recertification of physician assistants.
Category I CME: Certification Programs:
All certification and recertification of physician associate programs that AAPA has preapproved. The credits will be logged in toward the CME requirement only after completing the program. Physician associates can apply for the same certification program once a year and twice per logging cycle. NCCPA does not require PAs to take up these certification programs.
Category I CME: Performance Improvement (PI-CME):
These courses address systems-based practice and practice-based learning/improvement competencies. NCCP recognizes the value of this course. NCCPA doubles the first 20 credits earned through this Category for each physician associate per CME logging cycle as a bonus.
Category I CME: Self-Assessment:
The courses in this Category are solely for self-assessment and improvement of one’s performance, skill sets, and knowledge. NCCPA recognizes the value of these courses and awards a multiplication factor of 1.5 to CME credits obtained from this Category.
Category II CME
All educational activities related to patient care, medicine, or the physician associate’s role that does not fall under Category I credit fall under Category II CME.
State requirements of CME credits
As well as national requirements, each state’s medical licensing board has its own set of CME rules. That is to ensure PAs within that state remain compliant and have their skill sets and knowledge up-to-date. For example, in Colorado, physician assistants have to complete 25 hours of Category I CME annually, while in South Dakota, they must complete 30 hours annually.
CME credits are required for certification and recertification of physician assistants. You also need them to stay up-to-date with your knowledge and skills so you continuously improve as a physician associate.
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