There’s no way around it. Continued Medical Education (CME) is a necessity for high-level medical professionals including physician assistants (PAs). CME credits are generally required by most states in order for PAs to renew their license.
As a new physician assistant, you may not be completely aware of the requirements of CME or exactly how to go about obtaining these credits. NP PA Recruiters is happy to offer a bit of guidance and support to physician assistants who are not familiar with the process.
Why Do I Need CME Credits?
The purpose of CME is to ensure that PAs remain up-to-date on modern medical practices and technologies. This includes educational opportunities to stay informed on legislative changes and advances through research.
CME is also a requirement to maintain licensing; being required for physicians and nurse practitioners as well.
Because of the proliferation of the Internet, there now exist many online resources and courses that are available for PAs to obtain CME credits. This has made CME more accessible to professionals.
The Basics of CME
The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is the governmental body that establishes standards and licensing criteria for PAs in the United States. All of the 50 states (including D.C. and territories) recognize NCCPA as a leader in the PA world and have accepted their CME requirements as one of the criteria for licensing.
It is worth noting, however, that each individual state may have additional CME requirements for practicing PAs.
In 2014, the organization began to transition certified PAs into a 10-year certification maintenance process from a 6-year process. PAs can sign in to the NCCPA system to review whether or not they have shifted into the new maintenance cycle.
The 10-year certification maintenance cycle is divided into five 2-year periods during which PAs are responsible for earning a minimum of 100 CME credits. Please note that:
- CME credits can be earned starting May 1st of the year your current certification was issued through Dec. 31st of the expiration year.
- 50 CME credits must be Category 1 CME.
- The other 50 can be Certification Program credits, Category 1 CME, Category 2 CME or a combination of both.
- A recertification exam must be taken every 10 years alongside the CME requirements.
- A certification maintenance fee must be paid to the NCCPA every 2 years.
What Are Category 1 CME Credits?
Category 1 CME credits are “educational activities which serve to maintain, develop or increase the knowledge or skills that a PA uses to provide services to patients, the public or the profession.” This type of CME is broken down into 3 different types: Regular, Self-Assessment CME, and Performance Improvement CME (PI-CME).
Please note that the NCCPA no longer requires Self-Assessment or PI-CME credits but has classified these as special types and thus increased their CME value.
The type of programming that falls under Category 1 can include seminars, conferences, and online webinars.
Category 1 CME are audited and must be approved for credit by sponsoring organizations:
|American Academy of Physician Assistants
||AAPA Category 1 CME credit
|American Osteopathic Association
|American Academy of Family Physicians
|Organization accredited by the Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education
||AMA PRA Category 1 Credit
|Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RSPSC)
||Royal College MOC credits
|College of Family Physicians of Canada
||Mainpro C or Mainpro-M1 CPD credits
|European Union of Medical Specialists/European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medication Education
|Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada
||Mainpro C or Mainpro-m1 CPD credits
What Are Category 2 CME Credits?
Category 2 credits are activities related to improving the capabilities of the PA and must be related to medicine, patient care or other professional topics. These CME credits are earned on a hour-by-hour basis and can be combined with Category 1 activities to earn 50 CME hours per 2-year licensing maintenance cycle.
Credits can be earned through:
- Journal reading.
- Educational programs provided by pharmaceutical companies that are promotional and not eligible for Category 1 accrediting.
- Postgraduate coursework.
- Clinical research on the Internet.
- Participation in healthcare organizations.
Additional valuable information regarding Category 1 and 2 CME credits can be found on the NCCPA website.
What are Category 1 Self-Assessment CME and PI-CME credits?
The NCCPA has given special recognition to these two types of credits. While previously required as part of the Category 1 credits, the NCCPA has since removed that stipulation but continues to recognize them as valuable tools, and thus awarded an additional 50% credit for those designations.
For instance, a PI-CME credit worth 10 credits will be weighted at 15 credits by the NCCPA. Additionally, “the first 20 PI-CME credits logged during every 2-year cycle will be doubled when logged with NCCPA.”
A Self-Assessment CME consists of conducting an initial assessment of one’s own knowledge, abilities, and performance in order to evaluate where improvements can be made. Self-Assessment CME activities can be found here.
A PI-CME is intended to focus on your role within your practice and your team. Ideally, this will help to improve patient outcomes. This CME type is made up of three phases:
- An initial assessment comparing your practice against national standards and evidence-based guidelines to discover opportunities for improvement.
- The development of a plan to improve your practice based on the initial assessment.
- A reassessment of your practice evaluating the effects of the plan for improvements.
Eligible PI-CME activities can be found here.
Let NP PA Recruiters Be Your #1 Source for Job Guidance
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants both need to remain vigilant and aware even after obtaining their dream job. NP PA Recruiters wants to keep you informed and provide you the necessary resources to help you maintain your employability.
Contact us today at 956-772-1400 or 214-351-3880 or visit our job listings to see what positions are available to you nationwide.