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|National Certification for Pathologists' Assistants|
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.
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.