Physician Assistant Organizations
The PA profession garners support not only from national medical groups such as The American Medical Association (AMA), American College of Surgeons, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Emergency Physicians, but several professional organizations dedicated to the promotion of PAs on both national and local levels.
The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
In 1968, the AAPA was founded to serve as the national professional society for physician assistants. Its primary objective is to advocate for the physician assistant concept. The AAPA lobbies in support of the PA legislative agenda in Washington DC while aiding state PA chapters to improve their local practice acts. This organization offers continuing medical education, including those related to the maintenance of NCCPA certification and provides leadership development for physician assistant students and PAs in practice. Students of BU PA programs become members of the Academy and are encouraged to participate in the continuing development of the PA profession.
The Massachusetts Association of Physician Assistants (MAPA)
MAPA is the Massachusetts state chapter of the AAPA, and the professional organization that represents PAs at the state level. Chartered by the AAPA in 1975, its mission is to further the PA concept by advocating for PA issues. MAPA also acts in the political realm as a proactive agent for health policy change, educates members during two annual conferences, and regularly publishes a members’ newsletter which updates members on MAPA activities. BU PA students become members of MAPA as well.
Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)
The ARC-PA is the independent accrediting body for all physician assistant programs in the United States. The ARC-PA serves to protect public interest by advocating for high educational standards for all accredited PA educational programs. Eligibility for the NCCPA exam includes successful completion of a PA program that is accredited by the ARC-PA. The process of accreditation for PA programs is rigorous, thus ensuring that those programs which successfully achieve accreditation are capable of providing a valuable educational experience and preparing students for careers as competent physician assistants.
Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA)
The PAEA is the only national organization in the United States representing the 195 currently accredited physician assistant educational programs. The PAEA’s mission is to “pursue excellence in PA education, foster faculty development, advance the body of knowledge that defines quality education and patient-centered care, and promote diversity in all aspects of physician assistant education.” (2013, PAEA) The Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA), the method by which all applicants to the BU PA Program apply, began as a project of the PAEA and now serves most PA programs nationwide.
National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)
The NCCPA is an independent certifying organization, with representation from many national medical organizations and the PA profession, to develop and administer the initial certification exam called the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and the re-certification exam known as the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Examination (PANRE). Eligibility for the PANCE is extended to graduates of accredited US PA programs. Maintenance of certification, originally designed to increase the legitimacy of the PA profession, occurs on both two and ten year cycles.