CME FAQs

CME Requirements

CME Requirements for Certification Maintenance

What are the NCCPA certification maintenance requirements?

In order to maintain certification with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) PAs must:

  1. Take a recertification exam every 10 years.
  2. Earn 100 CME credits every two years, including at least 50 Category 1 CME credits.
  3. Pay a certification maintenance fee to NCCPA every two years.

When am I eligible to earn CME for NCCPA certification maintenance?

You may begin earning CME credit for national certification maintenance on the issuance date displayed on your NCCPA certificate.

For logging credits with NCCPA, can I complete JAAPA post-tests that I received before I graduated and became certified?

Yes, as long as the post-tests have not expired, and you complete them on or after the issuance date displayed on your NCCPA certificate. (JAAPA post-tests may be submitted for up to one year from publication date.)

Does maintaining my national certification with NCCPA satisfy CME requirements for state licensure renewal?

While most state licensing boards accept current NCCPA certification as a proxy for satisfying CME requirements associated with licensure renewal, individual requirements vary by state. Please refer to Statutory and Regulatory Requirements for Licensure and License Renewal (PDF) for specific state requirements.

Types of CME

Types of CME

What is Category 1 credit and how can I earn it?

Category 1 CME consists of clinical and professional educational activities that serve to maintain, develop or increase the knowledge, skills and professional performance that a PA uses to provide services for patients, the public and the profession.

The content of Category 1 CME is the body of knowledge and skills generally recognized and accepted by the profession as within the basic medical sciences, the discipline of clinical medicine and the provision of health care to the public.

For NCCPA national certification maintenance, there are 3 different types of Category 1 CME: Category 1 CME, Category 1 Self-Assessment CME, and Category 1 Performance Improvement CME (PI-CME).

 

Category 1 CME

These activities must be reviewed and approved by one of the following organizations for the corresponding type of credit:

Sponsor (organization approving CME credit) Credit Designation
American Academy of PAs AAPA Category 1 CME credit
American Osteopathic Association Category 1-A
American Academy of Family Physicians Prescribed Credit
Organizations accredited by the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education. AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) Royal College MOC credits
College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Mainpro C or Mainpro-M1 CPD credits
Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada (PACCC) Mainpro C or Mainpro-M1 CPD credits
European Union of Medical Specialists/European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (UEMS/EACCME) ECMEC®s

 

Category 1 Self-Assessment CME

These activities must be reviewed and approved by the following organization for the corresponding type of credit:

Sponsor (organization approving CME credit) Credit Designation
American Academy of PAs AAPA Category 1 Self-Assessment CME credit

 

Category 1 PI-CME

These activities must be reviewed and approved by the following organization for the corresponding type of credit:

Sponsor (organization approving CME credit) Credit Designation
American Academy of PAs AAPA Category 1 PI-CME credit
ABMS-Member Board Category 1 activities accepted for Part 4 MOC credit
American Osteopathic Association Category 1-A activities accepted for Component 4 OCC credit
ABMS Multi-Specialty Portfolio Program Sponsors ABMS Multi-Specialty Portfolio Program activities

Every PA should receive a certificate of completion or letter of participation upon completion of a Category 1 CME program.

Please note that acceptable credit types for individual state licensing boards may vary. You can access the State Laws and Regulations webpage for individual state requirements.

What are self-assessment activities?

Self-assessment is the process of conducting a systematic review of one’s own performance, knowledge base or skill set, usually to improve future performance, expand knowledge or hone skills.

Self-assessment activities, in their most common form, are simply an in-depth medical knowledge test that provides feedback on your performance and the opportunity to learn from the experience.

Importantly, self-assessment activities are not like taking PANCE or PANRE, where you have one chance per test to get a passing score. Instead, this is exactly what it says – a “self-assessment.” Most activities allow you to take the self-assessment as many times as you like in order to gauge where your own personal knowledge gaps exist. It helps you identify where you need CME or additional self-study to improve your knowledge. Self-assessment activities are meant to help you better recognize gaps in your own knowledge, so that you can better serve your patients.

In recognition of the value of self-assessment and its role in continuous professional development, NCCPA is now offering an additional incentive to encourage PA participation in self-assessment activities. For all activities approved for AAPA Category 1 Self-Assessment CME credit, NCCPA will now apply an additional 50 percent weighting when those self-assessment credits are logged for NCCPA certification maintenance purposes. In other words, if a PA logs 20 AAPA Category 1 Self-Assessment CME credits with NCCPA, they will count as 30 of their total 100 credit requirement for that 2-year CME cycle.

PAs should be aware that the extra weighting for self-assessment activities is only relevant to NCCPA certification. States that require CME for license renewal purposes do not apply any additional weighting for self-assessment and PAs must claim those credits exactly as awarded on their CME certificates.

How do I know if I will receive the additional credit weighting from NCCPA when logging a self-assessment activity?

Only self-assessment activities approved for AAPA Category 1 Self-Assessment CME credit will qualify for the additional incentive within the NCCPA logging system.

What are performance improvement (PI-CME) activities?

PI-CME activities are a unique chance to earn CME while reflecting on your role in team-based care and how you might improve patient outcomes by altering your own approach or methods. PI-CME is a structured process for evaluating the evidence-base for your own behavior and making carefully considered adjustments accordingly. The activity has 3 phases:

  • Stage A – Compare your current practice in a specific clinical area against recognized, evidence-based standards. Assess your current performance, identify performance gaps and discover opportunities for improvement.
  • Stage B – Develop and implement a plan to improve your practice. For example, you might decide to take a class about a specific procedure, develop new patient education material, change the sequence in which you approach routine tasks, or make a simple process change.
  • Stage C – Reassess your practice to evaluate the effects of your improvement plan. If you were able to improve, what factors facilitated your success? If you were not able to improve, what barriers did you encounter that prevented a successful outcome? What would you do differently next time?

Acknowledging the evidence detailing PI-CME’s positive impact on outcomes, NCCPA has announced a new incentive for completing PI-CME activities: The first 20 PI-CME credits logged during every two-year cycle will now be doubled when logged with NCCPA.
PAs should be aware that the extra weighting for PI-CME activities applies only to NCCPA certification. States that require CME for license renewal do not apply any additional weighting to PI-CME activities.

Where can I find Self-Assessment and PI-CME Activities?

AAPA’s Learning Central. To see a complete list of self-assessment and PI-CME activities, visit https://www.nccpa.net/finding-sa-and-pi-cme.

How do I know if I will receive the additional credit weighting from NCCPA when logging a PI-CME activity?

Only PI-CME activities approved for AAPA Category 1 PI-CME credit, category 1 activities accepted for Part 4 MOC credit by an ABMS-member board, category 1A activities accepted for Component 4 OCC credit by the American Osteopathic Association, and ABMS Multispecialty Portfolio Program activities will qualify for the additional incentive within the NCCPA logging system.

Can I complete a self-assessment or performance improvement activity more than once?

Yes, as long as the activity is completed in different 2-year logging cycles AND the activity provider allows this. PAs cannot claim credit for the same activity more than once in the same 2-year logging cycle. Be sure to check with the provider of the CME activity if you intend to do an activity more than once, as some providers allow this and others do not.

Do I have to finish a self-assessment or PI-CME activity in the same 2-year cycle in which I began it?

It is OK to start a self-assessment or performance improvement activity in one cycle and complete it in the next cycle, as long as you log it during the cycle in which you completed it.

What is Category 2 credit and how can I earn it?

Category 2 credit is elective and must be related to medicine, patient care or other professional issues such as reimbursement and CPT coding. Below are some examples of things that can be counted as category 2 credit.

  • Reading medical journals or texts
  • Attending meetings provided by pharmaceutical companies that are promotional
  • Clinical research on the Internet
  • AAPA HOD
  • Precepting students
CME Certificates

CME Certificates

How do I access certificates for post-tests that I have completed in the past through AAPA?

Visit Learning Central then go to “Transcript” to see post-tests you have already completed and download certificates for those completed successfully. Use “Transcript” to keep track of all of your CME in one place. If you received a score of less than 70 percent on a post-test, you will have the option to retake that test.

How do I access certificates from AAPA’s Annual conference?

The CME Manager allows individuals to claim credit and print certificates from AAPA Conferences 2014-2019. (https://www.aapa.org/cme-central/aapa-cme-manager-certificates/)

Logging CME

Logging CME

How do I log my CME credits?

For national certification maintenance, you must log your CME credits with NCCPA. Be sure to have the following information available:

  • Title of the program
  • Provider – the organization that is administering the program
  • Number of credits
  • Sponsor – the organization that designates the program for CME credit.

Please see the list of sponsors that PAs may use for Category 1 CME credit for certification maintenance with NCCPA.
If you are logging for your state license only, please contact your state licensing board for instructions.

Do I need to submit my CME certificates when I log my credits with NCCPA for certification maintenance?

NCCPA provides the option to upload CME certificates when logging but you are not required to submit documentation at the time that you log credits. However, be sure to keep documentation of all completed Category 1 CME activities for 7 years in case you are audited by NCCPA. Check with your state licensing board regarding their individual auditing and documentation requirements.

I am going to attend a conference and want to know if I can claim CME credit. How can I verify that the credits earned will count as Category 1 for me when logging with NCCPA?

Look in the promotional brochure or advertisement for the accreditation statement, which will indicate what type of credit can be earned at the conference. Then refer to this complete list of acceptable sponsors for Category 1 CME for NCCPA certification maintenance. Programs approved for nursing credit only should be logged as a Category 2 (elective) activity.

Please note that acceptable credit types for individual state licensing boards may vary. You can access the State Laws and Regulations webpage for individual state requirements.

I am planning to attend a conference that is not approved for AAPA Category 1 CME or the equivalent. As an attendee, can I apply to AAPA for CME credit approval?

No. Only the provider of the CME program may apply to AAPA for Category 1 CME approval. If the program has not received AAPA CME approval you may still claim the activity as Category 2 CME.

I would like to attend the AAPA Annual Conference, but I have already earned all of my required CME credit for this two-year cycle with NCCPA. Can I use credits earned at this conference for my next two-year cycle?

Credits earned between May and December of the year your certification expires (the second year of your two-year cycle) may apply toward either your current NCCPA two-year cycle, or the next two-year cycle.

I am planning to take the PANCE/PANRE. Do you recommend any review materials or review courses for the exam?

Although AAPA does not endorse or guarantee any of these courses or materials, AAPA does maintain a list of review materials and courses for the PANCE/PANRE exam.

JAAPA publishes a recertification refresher series every month and archived articles are available.

Can faculty claim AAPA Category 1 CME credit for presenting an AAPA Category 1 CME lecture?

Faculty can claim AAPA Category 1 CME for presenting a lecture if it is approved for Category 1 CME for learners and if the faculty receives a certificate. Faculty can claim Category 2 for preparing for the lecture.