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National Certification for Pathologists' Assistants
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Overview

In 2005, pathologists' assistants became eligible for certification by the ASCP.  The creation of a national professional certification program for AAPA members and for the pathologists' assistant profession had been a long-time goal of the AAPA.

From it's inception, one of the major goals of the AAPA had been to achieve national recognition of the professional status of pathologists' assistants.  In 1999 the AAPA initiated formation of the National Commission on Certification of Pathologists' Assistants, with participation by the Association of Pathologists' Assistant Educational Programs (APAEP), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), Association of Pathology Chairmen (ACP), Association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology (ADASP), and with additional representation from National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), American Board of Pathology (ABP), Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), Canadian Association of Pathologists (cap), and the World Association of Societies of Pathology (WASP).  Over a period of more than four years, the Commission investigated all aspects of a national certification program and regularly presented its findings to the AAPA Board of Trustees (BOT) for evaluation.

In late 2003, the AAPA elected to pursue a joint national certification program with the ASCP Board of Registry (now recognized as Board of certification - BOC).  In September 2004, the AAPA BOT and the ASCP BOR created a memorandum of understanding, forming a firm foundation for the joint program for national certification of pathologists' assistants and defining the relationship between the two groups by outlining each organization’s responsibilities.


Related News

Since its inception, the AAPA has experienced continued significant growth and now has over 1200 members including fellows, affiliates, students, and sustaining members.  Recognition of the profession by the medical community has also greatly increased.  In 1993, the AAPA established an affiliation with the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), and together developed an accreditation process setting the minimum standards for PA training programs.  The Essentials of Pathologists' Assistant Training Programs can be found at the NAACLS website.  In 1994, the AAPA compiled a list of the professional responsibilities of pathologists' assistants that was approved by a review committee of the ASCP.  Over the past several years, the AAPA and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) have participated in constructive discussions regarding these professional responsibilities with the common goal to refine them and to define how they fit into the overall "Scope of Practice" for the profession.  In this matter, as in all matters relevant to the profession, the AAPA will continue to look out for the best interests of the pathologists' assistant.


Future of the AAPA

With the establishment of the AAPA/ASCP BOC joint certification program, the new gold standard of nationally certified pathologists' assistants has been set.  Since the ASCP issued certification examination has replaced the AAPA fellowship program as the measure of competency for NAACLS-accredited training program graduates, a major focus of the AAPA has become the provision of Continuing Education (CE) credits to its members. In 2001, the AAPA gained CE provider status through the Professional Acknowledgement for Continuing Education (PACE) program under the aegis of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (ASCLS).  Since that time, we have been able to provide our membership with PACE approved CE credits for attendance at our annual conference lectures and workshops, participation in quarterly newsletter quizzes and attendance at other accredited institutional lectures and workshops.  The AAPA will continue to be the primary provider of CE credits necessary to maintain professional certification status for the pathologists' assistant, and will be the repository for tracking and maintaining records of CE accreditation for its members. The affiliation with the ASCP BOC will also greatly expand the available sources of accredited CE activity for our membership.

The AAPA is an approved provider of continuing education programs in the clinical laboratory sciences through the ASCLS PACE program.
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