Certification and Licensure
PAs are certified nationally and licensed by state. After graduation from an ARC-PA accredited PA program, physician assistants can sit for the national certification exam, the PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam). The PANCE is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) which is the nationally recognized certification organization for physician assistants. The NCCPA assures high standards in the profession, provides the consumer with safeguards and the physician employer with evidence of competency.
National certification via the NCCPA is required for clinical practice as a PA. Certified physician assistants are also required to demonstrate continued competency via mandatory continuing education every two years and successful completion of the national PA recertification exam every ten years.
State licensure is also required for clinical practice as a PA. Specific requirements for licensure vary by state but national certification as a PA is mandatory for any state licensure. Depending on state-specific requirements, the supervisory agreement between the PA and his or her supervising physician (MD or DO) may be maintained with state licensure documents.
Saint Louis University Physician Assistant Program graduates have consistently performed above the national average on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). The average first-time PANCE rate for the last five years is 99 percent.
Note: Many state regulatory and governing organizations will not grant a license, registration or other professional practice document if one has been convicted of a felony, or in some cases, a misdemeanor. Prospective applicants are encouraged to consult with the state licensing organization for more detailed information before applying.