PAEA Takes Stand on Recertification Issue at LAS Meeting

Several PAEA Board and staff members attended AAPA’s Leadership and Advocacy Summit — the Academy’s annual gathering of AAPA and constituent organization leaders — in Washington, DC, March 4-5 to discuss major issues facing the profession. Among the topics on the agenda this year were full practice authority and responsibility (FPAR) and the future of PA recertification, both issues of concern to PAEA.

On the recertification issue, AAPA staff and leaders laid out information that AAPA has gathered on the feasibility of establishing an alternative certification agency to the NCCPA. The presentation included projected costs and a timeline for establishing a new agency. Governance issues were also addressed by Jordan Henderson, PhD, from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, which accredits many certifying bodies, including NCCPA. Henderson noted that any new certifying body would need to have independent governance from AAPA’s.

PAEA President Bill Kohlhepp and CEO Timi Agar Barwick both took to the microphones to express PAEA’s serious concerns about AAPA’s plans to investigate the feasibility of establishing an alternative certifying body. Kohlhepp stated that the effort is diverting time and energy from more significant issues facing the profession and undermining a key partner, NCCPA.

At the 2016 PAEA Education Forum last October, PAEA members overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for a transparent, evidence-based, and inclusive dialogue on the recertification issue.

One of those significant issues facing the profession is FPAR, which has been shaping up as a major strategic concern for the profession over the past few years. The issue was given new definition and impetus by a resolution passed at the 2016 AAPA House of Delegates (HOD) meeting that referred the issue to the AAPA Board of Directors, which established a task force to study the matter. The task force is preparing to bring a policy proposal to the 2017 HOD that would support, among other measures, “the elimination of provisions in laws and regulations that require a PA to have and/or report a supervisory, collaborating, or other specific relationship with a physician in order to practice.”

A structured feedback session on the FPAR proposal elicited a number of concerns from participants, the biggest of which was the potential for damage to the relationship between PAs and physicians and between PA organizations and organized medicine. Other concerns included the potential for FPAR to interfere with AAPA’s ongoing state advocacy work on its six key elements of a PA practice act, and the need to collect more data to drive the discussion.

The fundamental change that FPAR would mean in the relationship between PAs and physicians would also have significant implications for PA programs, which would need to prepare students for a different practice environment. PAEA is surveying members and gathering additional information on the implications of FPAR for PA education, and we will share this with members and with AAPA and other stakeholders in the coming weeks in preparation for the debate in the HOD.