Starting in 2023, PAs will be allowed to recertify with PANRE-LA, a permanent longitudinal, take-home alternative to PANRE. The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants announced the approval in November. Along with recertification, completion of PANRE-LA questions allows PAs to receive CME credits each quarter. Since the announcement, many PAs have had time to consider whether this new testing option is beneficial for them or produces barriers and inconveniences, in light of unforeseen drawbacks.
In a recent Doximity poll, 67% of more than 1,200 PAs indicated that they intend to recertify with the new PANRE-LA testing alternative, while 10% responded that they do not intend to go with the new option. The remaining 22% were undecided. The poll shows a majority preference for the new recertification option, but also a substantial amount of uncertainty.
The poll showed the PAs’ overall intentions regarding recertification with PANRE-LA, and many Doximity members shared insight into the reasoning behind their decision. For those looking forward to recertification through PANRE-LA, the style of assessment was more favorable than the traditional option. Kelly Anne Spring, PA, one of the poll respondents who voted yes, shared that she “absolutely loved taking the pilot last year instead of a stressful ‘cram everything’ approach for a single sitting. I learned and retained so much more with this style of assessment and actually found it enjoyable once completed! When I was stumped, I used UpToDate, old notes from recent PANRE CME prep class, and Epocrates when needed. I am really glad it is staying as an option.”
Still, several PAs had reservations about recertifying with the new test. One of the main issues with the new PANRE-LA is the price. Alison Kalb, PA, expressed concerns about the high cost, saying, “[An] UpToDate subscription is $579/year — not a very cost-effective reference, especially on top of the price of testing! Absurd testing fees — it should be free to recertify. It’s always more [money] to spend to keep our earned certification.” While there is simplicity in being able to take the test at home on one’s own time, the expenses can act as a barrier for PAs looking to enjoy this same benefit.
Another concern reported was the amount of time the PANRE-LA takes to complete. Sondra Andersen, PA, said, “I did the pilot PANRE and it was like studying for two years … now they are extending it to three years? I feel like we’re always testing; more time away from family, our practices, and expanding the skills needed for our particular specialties. CME and conferences make us the best practitioners for our patients!” This new test poses a problem to the work-life balance of PAs. Because of this, PA Andersen raises some important questions: Should recertification happen without testing? Are CME and conferences enough for PA recertification?
For PAs who are uncertain on whether or not the PANRE-LA is best for them, the most common solution seems to be to wait it out and see how others in the field feel about it. Hailan Liu, PA, commented, “I still have a couple of years to [recertify, and] I want to see how PAs who use the new form of [recertification] feel about it before deciding if I will take the PANRE-LA.” Those who do not yet have to recertify have more time to decide whether this option will work for them. While the results from the pilot study were mostly positive, PAs may also benefit from hearing more about whether this test is worthwhile from colleagues and friends.
Ultimately, most PAs are excited about the new testing option. Though there are some potential drawbacks, the majority feels that it’s easier and more convenient to recertify at home. Regardless of whether or not PAs choose to take the PANRE-LA, the emergence of a new testing option points toward growth in the PA profession, specifically for recertification and continuing education.
What other changes would you like to see in the recertification process? Suggest your ideas in the comments.
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