Call for Comments, Collegiality and Consideration of the Future of the PA Profession
by Dawn Morton-Rias, Ed.D, PA-C (NCCPA President/CEO) and Denni Woodmansee, MS, PA-C (NCCPA Board Chair)
For the last few months, NCCPA has been working to help PAs understand a proposed recertification exam model under consideration by our Board of Directors.
Our goal has been to ensure that all PAs have the opportunity to learn and think about what the proposed changes are and what they may mean for themselves today and for the profession into the future.
Health care continues to change, which you know because you live it. New diseases emerge, evaluation and treatment options evolve, and scientific understanding deepens. Technology presents new opportunities and new challenges in the care and management of patients across the spectrum. Amidst this change, our profession continues to grow and thrive because we have adapted and changed. PAs provide comprehensive care in all disciplines. PAs are working more autonomously than we did 40, 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. Many are treating the same complex constellation of comorbidities as their physician partners. We are successful as a profession by every measure.
Some look at that success and say: Clearly what we are doing has worked. Why change it? Others may look at that success and say: Will our approach that has worked well in the past suffice for the future? Is our process for certification adequate for assessing what PAs do today?
Like it or not, we live in an era of increasing transparency, refined scrutiny and expanding accountability. We believe that this proposed recertification exam model better assesses what PAs actually do and positions the profession to withstand that scrutiny.
When we first decided to explore changes to PANRE, we did so with a close eye on the current evolution in healthcare. We then looked at what PAs are actually doing in clinical practice, across the many specialties in which they work and across the various stages of the career span. We built a new team of experts in assessment methods and cognitive psychology at NCCPA and developed new partnerships with some of the top leaders in the assessment and certification field. Why? Because we wanted to find a more relevant, meaningful and impactful recertification process.
Given what the data demonstrated about the current state of PA practice and what the experts had to say about the current state of assessment science, we arrived at a clear conclusion: we can make the recertification process better.
Then we began a year-long process of seeking input from PAs about how to do that: first with focus groups, then with surveys and now with even more surveys and dialogue with stakeholders.
We know there is much to absorb and consider, and we know not everyone agrees with the proposed changes. We encourage and welcome the opportunity to inform consideration of the proposed model, discuss, vet and resolve those issues in a respectful and collegial manner; that’s just what professional colleagues should do. What concerns us is that much of what is being written by others is inaccurate, based on fear, or perhaps other motivations. Also, the single most important consideration seems to be getting lost in this debate: What is best for patients?
Please do not let anyone dissuade you from actually participating in this process in an informed, productive way.
We have just published a new “Issues and Answers” document in which we address concerns, misstatements and fears.
We continue to provide information about the model under consideration on our website and invite you to explore it further to find out more. Then, if you haven’t done so already, please participate in the survey we are conducting this month to gather YOUR perspectives. Within the next 24 hours, those who haven’t already completed the survey will receive a reminder email with a link to the survey form.
Change is the only constant in life, and we appreciate the uneasiness that it provokes. As certified PAs, we and our colleagues, friends, and contemporaries would be affected by these changes. Let’s each of us stop to understand the proposal and thoughtfully consider what is best for our profession and for the patients we serve.