The Society of Physician Assistants in Otorhinolaryngology / Head & Neck Surgery (SPAO-HNS)

Specialty Certification

06 Apr 2010 10:03 PM | Anonymous member

In the near future SPAO will be reaching out to it members with a formal survey. In that survey, the question of Specialty Certification will be asked again. I am hoping to generate discussion so that we can speak with one voice. So let us know what you think. 


  • 07 Apr 2010 5:37 PM | Anonymous member
    Specialty recognition in the form of certification or certificate of completion should be voluntary and independant of NCCPA certification.
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  • 08 Apr 2010 2:04 PM | Anonymous
    As a PA with 27 years of ENT experience and having done a formal recidency in ENT, I am against the current proposed specialty "certification" exams.
    First, they do not replace the current certification/recertification exams. So would only be "nice" to have.
    I would be the first in line to take an Otolaryngology/Head and Neck surgery Certification exam and keep testing for recertification if necessary only if it replaces the current system.
    I don't believe that Those of us in a specialty, specially for our entire careers should have to test for primary care matters. Our physician colleagues do not do it and neither should we. Taking an exam in ENT now would only take money from my pocket on to someone else's. I just can't convince myself that there is any value to it.
    Our employers have not required it or are even have a single thought that it is necessary.
    My employers think it is odd that I have to take exams for "primary care" and not ENT.
    Just my two cents.---Mike Valdez
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  • 08 Apr 2010 4:47 PM | Deleted user
    My thought in response to the question of sub specialty certification. As a PA with 30+ years experience as a PA, 28 years in all areas of surgery, 30 years of primary care practice and 10 years in ENT please tell me what the point is. My concern is the fact that I still have to take an exam in all aspects of medicine and surgery. In response I have continued to keep my skills up as a generalist; I have gone out of my way over the years to keep my hand in Primary Care. Interestingly my supervising physicians go to me with a question about anything but ENT. I usually can answer the question. As a PA I am proud to be able to answer the question. I think it would be a great loss to the profession to become locked into this narrow area of specialization. I particularly like the fact that I can move from area to area. PA’s historically have been able to change specialty as the market demands. Interestingly I did a formal residency in Ophthalmology and have never used it. In conclusion, why would we want to lock our selves into one area when we have a system that works well, is it for the bucks?? Please, let us not restrict or limit our opportunities.
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    • 11 Apr 2010 1:55 AM | Anonymous
      Edward, I'm not sure if you are for or against specialty certification?
      I respect your position on still being a generalist but respectfully disagree.
      I have been a PA for over 30 years (only 27 in ENT) and did the Air Force version of Family Medicine for a few years.After 27 years n ENT, I don't think that I could go back and be able totake care of your hypertension or diabetes or kidney failure by just going back to Family Medicine.
      I would think that in order to be competent you would want to be "re-trained"
      I just don't think that "once a PA always a PA" mentality will work any longer.
      Another 2 cents.
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  • 09 Apr 2010 5:47 PM | Anonymous
    The only reason this has been brought up is to support the "cottage industry" related to PA practice/certification. The NCCPA already has way too much authority to "pick our pockets" under the guise of maintaining quality care. Specialty certification is another ruse to provide more money and "make work" for clerical people at NCCPA, Insurance Companies and hospital medical affaris offices. Filled out an application for medical staff privledges recently? I rest my case.
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    • 11 Apr 2010 7:09 PM | Anonymous member
      Some more questions members should be asking are "Will specialty certification replace current NCCPA certification?', "Will specialty certification be a barrier to PA mobility?", and perhaps the most important question is "who will make and administer specialty certification?" There is already rumblings that AAO wants PAs working in ENT to have specialty certification as proof of competence.
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  • 21 Oct 2010 6:18 PM | Anonymous member
    It's time to bring up the topic again. Whether we believe PAs even need to be certified in any specialty or not, the fact is that AAO-HNSF has several physicians in various committees pushing for some method or another of "certifying" us. Some want to go as far as creating a network of 1-year residency programs, which will take years to create and implement. Others want to make a "program" to sell to members, another "non-dues revenue" source. Still others say only to hire NPs. In the meantime, physicians are calling for experienced ENT PAs without having the time or inclination to train. The Joint Commission wants PAs on Medical staff rather than affiliate staff which increases the liability surgical chiefs have to confirm we are capable. Experienced PAs have to compete with new grads in times of budget cuts. And our own certifying body NCCPA is not likely to step in because of our small numbers. There are countless other points to make and issues to bring up, but the bottom line is that we as PAs need to get involved in the discussion with AAO so we have a say in what happens to us and the PAs who may want to work in ENT in the future, not just wait to see what a few powerful and opinionated fellows decide is best for us.
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