The Physician Assistant-Certified® (PA-C®) credential, issued by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), is a mark of professional accomplishment, indicating the achievement and maintenance of established levels of knowledge and clinical skills. The PA-C credential is widely recognized within the medical professions and beyond. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and the American territories have decided to rely on the NCCPA certification as one of the criteria for initial licensure or regulation of physician assistants. In order to become certified, physician assistants must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). After earning initial certification, physician assistants are required to pass the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Examination (PANRE) every ten years as part of their maintenance of certification requirements. For more information on the certification and recertification processes and exams, please see the related links section.
NCCPA Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) Program
Now certified physician assistants can achieve additional recognition for their specialty experience, skills, and knowledge through the NCCPA’s new Certificate of Added Qualifications (CAQ) Program. This voluntary program is designed to augment PA-C certification, so to be eligible for the CAQ program, PAs must first be currently certified by the NCCPA. They also must have an unrestricted license or government privileges to practice as a PA. The program requirements include CME, experience, procedures/case management, and lastly passing an exam. CAQs are valid for ten years provided certification and licensure requirements are maintained. For more information on this new program, click on the CAQ link in the Related Links section of this site.
NCCPA Tutorial Information
Physician assistants are encouraged to take the sample online tutorials provided below prior to their exam day to become familiar with the computer functions. The tutorial provides an opportunity to practice:
- Navigating through the examination
- Answering questions
- Changing answers
- Marking questions for review
- Accessing the table of laboratory values
Please Note: Windows-based PC required; Tutorials are not available for Mac platforms
- PANCE and PANRE Tutorial (53.8 MB exe)
- CAQ Exam Tutorial (53.4 MB exe)
- Tutorial Installation Requirements and Instructions (336 K pdf)
Before scheduling an examination appointment, you must have already:
- Applied for your examination with the NCCPA;
- Paid an examination application fee to the NCCPA; and
- Received an exam acknowledgement from the NCCPA.
First-time test takers must create a Pearson VUE web account. When creating your account and scheduling your exam, you will need your NCCPA ID number from the NCCPA exam acknowledgement sent to you upon completion of the application process. Appointments may be made up to one business day in advance.
If you provide Pearson VUE with any new contact information during the exam application process, this will not update the NCCPA’s records. Update your contact information with the NCCPA by signing in to your personal certification record.
After you schedule your exam, Pearson VUE will send you a confirmation letter listing your exam date, your exam time, the address and phone number of the test center, and directions to the test center.