How Often Do Physician Assistants Recertify

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Licensing requirements

To practice as a physician assistant, you must be licensed in the state where you intend to work. Each state has its own set of governing statutes and regulations to abide by To get your first license, here are some things to keep in mind. 

Working for the federal government is the lone exception to the rule that there is no reciprocity for PA licensing in the US. This means that you cannot work as a PA in Maine if you hold a California PA license.

If you’re in the process of becoming a licensed physician assistant, you should begin your research at the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

The NCCPA, a non-profit organization, has been setting criteria for PA certification since 1974. It reassures their patients that these experts fulfill the highest levels of knowledge and therapeutic competence.

Each state’s licensing board is listed in the National Council on Certification and Accreditation (NCCPA) directory. Prior to applying for licensing, they are a valuable source of information. 

For example, a potential applicant must have a degree from an ARC-PA program in order to apply (Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant).

260 certified PA programs in the United States are listed on their webpage. The implications of not choosing a state-accredited school will be dire when you apply for a license in the future.

For all states, you must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), says the American Academy of PAs (AAPA).

Multiple-choice (300 questions) test with a five-hour time limit, divided into blocks of 60 questions each. You must pay $550 upfront to the NCCPA in order to take the test. 

To take the test, you must have completed your PA program within 90 days of applying. It costs $50 to take one of the 120-question practice exams. This year, 93 percent of first-time PANCE test-takers passed; in 2018, 98 percent did!


NCCPA certifications are awarded to PAs who pass the PANCE exam and are then valid for two years.

Two hundred CME credits are required every two years in order to complete a ten-year certification procedure.

Your NCCPA certification and a slew of additional documentation are required in every state before you can apply for a state license. 

In some jurisdictions, you may be required to submit a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information Form).

For everybody who has been in a criminal court in a state, this database provides information about criminal activities in the area.

The state of Massachusetts mandates that you submit a CORI as part of your application for a driver’s license.

There may also be other criteria that need fingerprint submissions, such as a state and national criminal background check.

As part of the application process for a PA license in the state of Oregon, you must submit fingerprints to both the State Police and the FBI.

CME credits are required for PANRE renewal, as previously stated (Physician Assistant National Recertification Exam).

This multiple-choice exam assesses a PA’s understanding of general surgery and medicine. Applicants may sit for the 240-question test, which takes four hours to complete, in the latter two years of their ten-year period. 

When it comes to a state license, certification isn’t the same as a two-year renewal. On the other hand, North Carolina requires a PA to renew his or her license every year by the date of his or her birth.

The process may begin two months before the birthday of the person. A failure to register notice will be sent by certified mail to anyone who is more than 30 days past due on their renewal.

If no answer is received within 30 days, the license becomes inactive, making it illegal for the PA to practice in North Carolina.

Bottom Line

There must be an official license for a PA to practice lawfully in every US state where they work. Current and continual NCCPA certification is required for every application, even by the federal government (the Veterans Health Administration, to be specific). does not require a state license for a PA Gastroenterology position. You will need to comply with the medical board licensing rules while moving to a new state to operate as a PA.

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