Code of Ethics

The Ethics Council and the PAEA Board of Directors has approved a Code of Ethics for members and leaders of the Physician Assistant Education Association.

As a member, you agree to:

  • Conduct yourself toward other PAEA members and leaders with professional courtesy, respect for others, and fair-mindedness.
  • Act with integrity and in accordance with academic standards when developing professional and educational materials for PAEA.
  • Present your credentials, knowledge, skills, and experience fairly and accurately.
  • Interact with, or on behalf of, PAEA in accordance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
  • Abide by the PAEA Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Policies and Procedures Manual.
  • Refrain from using your association with PAEA for personal gain or private inurement.


Why has PAEA developed a Code of Ethics?

As an organization, PAEA is accountable to its membership to demonstrate that it carries out its business in a manner consistent with the best interests of the organization and membership, and in a fair and ethical manner. The Code of Ethics was developed to create a formal method of accountability for the organization.

Do all nonprofit associations (including state and local PA organizations) need to develop a code of ethics?

In general, a code of ethics or other guiding documents are helpful. A major impetus for PAEA and other similar organizations to create formal written ethical codes was the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002, by which the US congress established protections for shareholders in businesses from accounting errors and fraudulent practices. It is the opinion of many that even nonprofit organizations are required to provide annual assessments and verification of the adequacy and effectiveness of key internal controls over financial reporting processes. Irrespective of this legislation, an organizational code of ethics provides a framework and mechanism to support and maintain the best practices of business in an association.

What is the difference between “organizational ethics” and “clinical medical ethics”?

The emphasis of organizational ethics is more clearly focused on how the organization carries out its business with integrity, rather than on decision-making in a specific clinical scenario or environment.

How does the Code of Ethics apply to faculty and staff of member programs?

Members are expected to adhere to the Code of Ethics when interacting with or as an agent of PAEA. All faculty and staff of member programs must be aware of the PAEA Code of Ethics and how it may apply when seeking a position in PAEA as an elected official, an appointed volunteer, or in a leadership position of any kind.

What is a conflict of interest?

A situation occurring when an individual or an organization is involved in competing professional or personal interests which may make it difficult to fulfill duties in a fair and impartial manner. Conflicts of interest may occur as part of daily life, and do not, in and of themselves, imply that illegal, nefarious, or unseemly behavior or activities are present.

How is a conflict of interest identified?

The primary method for identifying conflicts of interest is through member self-disclosure of business and other relationships that constitute a potential conflict with the interests of PAEA. Members who have concerns or specific knowledge about other members with potential conflicts may also submit inquiries for further review by PAEA.

Does having a conflict of interest mean I cannot participate in PAEA leadership, committees, and councils?

Most conflicts of interests can be managed and therefore do not prohibit participation in PAEA leadership, committees, and councils. Transparency is a very important part of the process of identifying and managing conflicts of interest. If you have a question about whether a potential conflict of interest can be managed, contact PAEA.

How are conflicts of interest handled by the Ethics Council?

Self-reported conflicts of interests and inquiries about possible conflicts of interest are reviewed by the Ethics Council to determine whether or not competing interests can be managed in a way that is satisfactory to the interests of PAEA.

Will inquiries from members be handled confidentially?

The desire for confidentiality will be weighed and discussed as part of the process for deciding whether or not a conflict of interest can be managed. While a reasonable effort will be made to maintain confidentiality, disclosure may be necessary during the process.

How does PAEA ensure fairness in the review of conflict of interest inquiries?

We maintain confidentially and follow due process. The Ethics Council follows specific policies and procedures as outlined in the Code of Ethics, identified at 6.01.

Examples of Conflicts of Interest

Because of the nature of the work done at different levels of leadership within PAEA, and the sensitive or confidential nature of the information received and handled, volunteers for leadership positions in PAEA (members of the Board of Directors, division chairs, council chairs and committee chairs) should not have commitments similar to those listed below, which are considered very likely to create unmanageable conflicts of interest.

  • Site visitor, Commissioner or staff for the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant
  • Board of Directors, Commissioner, staff or similar position for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, the NCCPA Health Foundation’s Board, Accreditation Review Commission on
  • Education for the Physician Assistant, PA Foundation, or the American Academy of Physician Assistants
  • Any external liaison to PAEA, except by appointment of the PAEA Board of Directors
  • Any position that is directly related to or in direct competition with PAEA products (e.g., testing products)
  • Paid consultant for a case or engagement that may involve PAEA, PAEA members, PAEA vendors, or their direct competitors