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Physician Assistant OrganizationsIf you’re considering a career as a physician assistant, or you’re a new physician assistant, the number and names of the various physician assistant organizations can be a little (or a lot) confusing. Which does what and when and with whom and for what and why and what?

This little guide will help you sort it all out and know which physician assistant organizations and associations do what and who they are for and what their purpose is.  While this list does not cover every organization and association, it does cover the major ones.

America Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA): AAPA is the national professional association for physician assistants, and is the only one of the physician assistant organizations which represents all PAs. Whatever your specialty, if you are a PA, and you’re in the United States, D.C. Guam or the armed forces or federal services, you are represented by AAPA. The purpose of AAPA is to offer support and advocacy to PAs, and therefore improve patient access to quality, affordable health care.

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA): The NCCPA is the organization, among all of the physician assistant organizations that deals with certification of PAs. Their purpose is to serve the public by providing better quality and more accessible health care, through the use of certified PAs to provide care.  The NCCPA believes that encouraging certification, and maintaining high standards in the certification standards and certifying organizations, will create health care delivery that meets the vast needs of the American people.

Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA): The PAEA is the only national organization for PA educational programs, and as such is the only one of the physician assistant organizations responsible for collecting, organizing, publishing and making available to the public information on PA training programs. The mission of the PAEA is above all to make sure that PAs and prospective PAs have quality educational opportunities.

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) is the organization, of all the physician assistant organizations, authorized to accredit PA training programs leading to the physician assistant (PA) professional credential. ARC-PA does not accredit academic degrees, but only the school’s credentials for issuing a PA credential.

These organizations are the primary ones you should be aware of and understand when trying to make sense of the variety of organizations and associations in the physician assistant field. While there may seem to be physician assistant organizations everywhere you turn, these are the most important ones.

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