CME credits for physician associates – what’s the big deal?
You have done everything required to realize your dream of becoming a physician associate. That couldn’t have been easy. You completed your bachelor’s degree and gained work experience in a healthcare setting. Then, you applied to and completed an ARC-PA accredited program, two/three years of a master’s program, and passed your PANCE licensing exam. Now, you are a full-fledged, confident physician assistant with experience and knowledge. Why, then, do you need CME credits? If you’ve been asking yourself that question, this blog is for you. But let’s start at the very beginning:
What is CME?
CME is the abbreviation for continuing medical education. All professionals are expected to stay abreast with the latest knowledge, skills, and happenings in their respective industries. That happens by continuously gaining knowledge through courses – in other words, continuing education. Continuing education is a lifelong process, and CME helps medical professionals constantly stay current and updated and remain current on proper health care standards, training, and practices.
What are CME credits?
CME credits are proof that you have participated in an educational program that meets the requirements of your state health board and other medical societies. Every one hour of AAPA-approved CME education is equal to one CME credit.
CME credits improve your medical knowledge and bring you up-to-date on the most recent treatments, advancements, and technologies and further your career status.
Certification with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)
Certified PAs go through a decade-long certification maintenance cycle, and those 10 years are broken down into five two-year periods. As a physician assistant, you are required to earn 100 CME credits during every two-year cycle, including a minimum of 50 Category I CME credits. At the end of the 10 years, when you have completed five two-year cycles, you are also required to take a recertification exam to maintain your 10-year certification with the NCCPA.
In some states like Texas, physician associates must earn a minimum of 40 CME credits every two years. There must be at least 20 credit hours from a formal Category I that an AAPA-approved CME sponsor provides.
CME credits give your patients peace of mind
Patients often have more faith in a doctor than in a nurse or physician associate. But with up-to-date information, your patients are going to feel safe under your care. You don’t have to announce that you have all the required CME credits (they might not even know what that means). But with more knowledge, you will demonstrate a better level of care which your patients will naturally and automatically pick up. Better care leads to more trust – that’s an unwritten law in the healthcare industry.
CME credits are a requirement of state boards
State boards regulate medical doctors, and they also regulate radiology technicians, nurse-wives, acupuncturists, therapists, oriental medicine practitioners, perfusionists – and yes, even physician assistants.
Physician associates/assistants cannot practice without certification, and practicing without a renewed license can lead to disciplinary action. Physician associates/assistants are required to complete a certain number of hours of approved continuing medical education for each two-year renewal period.
CME credits are mandatory to add specialty Certificates of Added Qualifications (CAQ)
The NCCPA allows PAs to achieve recognition for their special skills, experience, and knowledge, through its certificate of added qualifications (CAQ) programs. Some CAQ programs offered by NCCPA are:
- Psychiatry CAQ
- Pediatrics CAQ
- Orthopedic surgery CAQ
- Nephrology CAQ
- Hospital medicine CAQ
- Emergency medicine CAQ
- Cardiovascular and thoracic surgery CAQ
This is your chance to shine as a physician assistant. However, to qualify for the program, you must:
- · Hold a current PA-C designation
- · Have a valid (and unrestricted) PA license to practice in at least one of the United States jurisdictions
- Possess two years of experience
- Pass your specialty exam
- Possess procedures/patient-case experience for the specialty you apply for
- Possess specialty CME
Once you receive your CAQ, the specialty license is valid for 10 years if you maintain your PA-C certification. So, another reason to maintain your CME credits is to keep your specialty license.
You might have finished studying to become a physician assistant, and you might be one of the very successful physician associates around, but you never stop learning. Continue to remain successful, maintain your licenses and certifications, and gain your patients’ trust with continuing medical education. CME credits are essential and made mandatory by state boards and other medical societies. But more importantly, it makes you a better PA.
CME4Life creates AAPA-approved engaging courses and successful products for PAs, NPs, doctors, EMSs, and students. Every course contains high-end medicine taught in a way that promotes better understanding and recall, so you become a better and more qualified medical professional.