Nephrology Certificate of Added Qualifications for PA’s

Nephrology Certificate of Added Qualifications for Physician Assistants
Achieve recognition for your specialty experience, skills and knowledge through the new certificate of added qualifications (CAQ) program offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)! Physician assistants seeking the Nephrology CAQ must demonstrate they have advanced knowledge and experience in nephrology, above and beyond that expected of entry-level PAs or PAs working in a generalist practice. PAs seeking eligibility for the Nephrology Specialty Examination must meet requirements of specialty-specific CME, experience in the field, and specific knowledge and/or experience in conducting procedures and being involved in patient cases that are deemed core to the specialty area of practice. After initiating the CAQ process by submitting the requirements for one of the components and the $100 administrative fee, PAs will have six years within which to complete all four components for the CAQ, including passing the specialty exam.

To qualify for a specialty CAQ, PAs must first satisfy two basic pre-requisites: (1) current PA-C certification and (2) possession of a valid, unrestricted license to practice as a PA in at least one jurisdiction in the United States or its territories, or unrestricted privileges to practice as a PA for a government agency. For PAs meeting those basic prerequisites, the CAQ process includes four core requirements: (1) Category I specialty CME, (2) one to two years of experience, (3) procedures and patient case experience appropriate for the specialty, and (4) a specialty exam.

The first three core requirements may be completed in any order. Once those are complete, PAs are eligible for the exam. The cost of this program is just $350, including a $100 administrative fee and a $250 exam registration fee. The exam date for all CAQ exams is Sept. 9, 2013. Schedule your CAQ exam early to improve the likelihood of a convenient testing location.

The final deadline for submitting the exam application is September 5, 2013.

Once awarded, a CAQ will be valid for a period of ten years.

Contact the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) at for further information.

CME requirements
In the six years preceding the date of application for the specialty exam, PAs must earn a minimum of 150 credits of Category I CME focused on nephrology practice with a minimum of 50 of those credits having been earned within the two years prior to the date of exam application. The 150 required CME credits must include completion of an Advanced Cardiac Life Support course. The same 150 credits may also be used for maintenance of the PA-C credential. PAs should complete CME activities that encompass knowledge of the evaluation of the kidney function, urinalysis, radiological assessment of renal disease, the kidney in systemic disease, chronic kidney disease, peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, medications and the kidney, the kidney in special circumstances (i.e., pediatric patients, pregnancy, and/or aging), hypertension, billing and coding, and kidney transplantation.

Experience Requirement
Physician assistants seeking the Nephrology CAQ must have gained at least 4,000 hours of experience (the equivalent of two years of full-time practice) working as a PA, including at least 2,000 hours (the equivalent of one year of full-time practice) in nephrology within six years of the date they attest to NCCPA that the experience requirement has been satisfied. If selected for an audit, documentation substantiating that work experience will be required.

Procedures/Patient Case Requirement
Candidates for the CAQ must be able to apply the appropriate knowledge and skills needed for practice in nephrology, as described below. In support of this requirement, each candidate must provide attestation from a supervising physician who works in the specialty and is familiar with the PA’s practice and experience. The physician attestation must indicate that the PA has performed the procedures and patient management relevant to the practice setting and/or understands how and when the procedures should be performed.

Again, the PA may not have experience with each procedure, but he or she must be knowledgeable of the basics of the procedures, in what situation the procedures should be done, and the associated management of patients. In determining whether an applicant can satisfy the Specialty Procedures and Patient Case Requirement, consideration should be given to the following areas:

Case Management of Patients in One of the Following Nephrology Subspecialties:
• End stage renal disease
• Chronic kidney disease
• Kidney transplantation
• Hospitalist care involving acute dialysis therapy

Diagnosis & Management of:
• Hypertension (primary & secondary)
• Anemia
• Volume management
• Complications of dialysis
• Metabolic bone disease
• Adjustment of medication doses to GFR
• Medication management in patients with compromised renal function
• Vascular access management/complications in hemodialysis
• Nutritional management
• Uremia
• Catheter infections/malfunction
• Vascular access preparation and placement
• Peritoneal dialysis catheter placement
• Acute dialysis therapy
• Assessment/care/management of kidney donors and recipients pre- and post-transplant
• Collection/examination/interpretation of urine specimen

The Nephrology CAQ Exam
Physician assistants who have satisfied all other requirements for the Nephrology CAQ will be eligible to register for the Nephrology Specialty Exam. The examination consists of 120 multiple-choice questions related to nephrology and targeted for PAs who have experience in the practice of that specialty. The exam date for the Nephrology CAQ exam is Sept. 9, 2013. Schedule your CAQ exam early to improve the likelihood of a convenient testing location.

The final deadline for submitting the exam application is September 5, 2013.

The exam will be administered once a year at Pearson VUE testing centers.