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Certification for Physician Assistants vs. Nurse Practitioners

It’s important to keep your certification schedule in mind when you’re considering your future as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Although several certifications can be applied across a range of medical specializations, the validity of said certifications will vary from position to position. In general, nurse practitioners are required to recertify less often than physician assistants. Many NP certifications are valid for five years, while PA certifications only last two years. Taking part in accredited nurse practitioner and physician assistant CMEs is paramount to keeping your medical certifications.

Nurse Practitioner Certification

A nurse practitioner can receive certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. In general, certifications for nurse practitioners must be renewed every five years. Such certifications include but are not limited to:

  • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • School Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult Nurse Practitioner
  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

In order to qualify to sit for recertification exams in these fields and other NP fields, many organizations and medical associations require a minimum amount of hours of clinical practice and CME relevant to the NP’s field. Respectively, these minimum hours can reach into the thousands and near hundreds. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, for example, requires 1000 clinical hours and 75 continued medical education hours within each certification timeframe.

Physician Assistant Certification

The Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) is taken every five to six years before your certification expires or every nine to ten years if you have a different certification cycle. Several medical bodies, like the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, require 100 or more CME credits every two years of a PA’s certification cycle. On average, half of those must be from a Category 1 CME.

Maintaining Your Certification

Maintaining certification or gaining certification once it has been lost can be a daunting task for some. The great thing about preparing yourself for recertification through CME courses is that not only are you meeting your professional requirements, but you’re getting valuable hands-on training at the same time. All of NPI’s CME courses are accepted as prescribed Category 1 credits by a variety of medical associations including ACCME, AOA, and AMA. They are also valid as AAFP Prescribed Credits.