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News & Press: Position Statement

New York Grandfathering Licensure Pathway for Pathologists’ Assistants

Friday, May 3, 2019   (1 Comments)
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Addressing concerns about a significant number of unqualified individuals being granted a New York Pathologists’ Assistant license during the grandfathering period

The New York Grandfathering Licensure Pathway for Pathologists’ Assistant is obtainable until November 27, 2019.  This grandfathering pathway requires a fee and forms to be completed by the applicant and requires a signature by a New York State licensed pathologist.  After November 27, 2019, applicants for Pathologists’ Assistant licensure will need to meet the examination and education requirements set forth in Article 168 (see links below).  All AAPA members working in New York are encouraged to apply for a Pathologists’ Assistants license via the grandfathering pathway or the regular licensure pathway. 

The AAPA has been contacted by some members with concerns and complaints regarding a significant number of unqualified individuals being granted a New York Pathologists’ Assistant license during the grandfathering period.  Many biopsy/processing/grossing technicians may currently have a license as a histological technician or medical laboratory technician and should therefore be unaffected by the new Pathologists’ Assistant licensure.  Since the limited histological technician license expired on August 31, 2018, many laboratorians working as biopsy/processing/grossing technicians are applying for PathA (Pathologists’ Assistant) licensure through the grandfathering pathway and their documents are being signed by anatomic pathologists. 

The New York State Committee includes three AAPA members: Kathleen Bykowicz, PA(ASCP)CM, Charles Fernandez-Perez, PA(ASCP)CM, and Lysette Seegobin, PA(ASCP)CM.  The committee also includes Dr. Mohammad Nakadar, a foreign medical graduate and ASCP certified Pathologists’ Assistant from Mount Sinai, a pathologist and a public representative. The New York State Education Department Office of Professions, the Clinical Laboratory Evaluation program, and the Committee are involved in New York Pathologists’ Assistant licensure.

Communication from the New York State Committee Pathologists’ Assistants:

The New York State committee is cognizant of the concerns raised regarding the licensing of unqualified individuals.   They, as New York committee members have been very concerned and frustrated with this situation.  The committee members provided some suggestions, but these matters are ultimately in the hands of the New York State Education Office of the Professions.  The grandfathering process could not have been made too narrow or with too many stipulations as that would have left some individuals without employment.  The committee had to rely on the honesty of pathologists.  Unfortunately, there is a great deal of ignorance and fear in the pathology community.  Many biopsy technicians feared that they would lose their positions, or they would be prohibited from grossing biopsies with their current licenses (medical technician, histological technician or clinical laboratory technician).
A license does not guarantee that someone will be hired as a Pathologists’ Assistant or be compensated as a Pathologists’ Assistant.  Employers must be cautious and scrutinize resumes and applicants with care for qualifications such as training at a NAACLS accredited Pathologists’ Assistant program and ASCP certification.  There also seems to be a circulating misconception that once a license is issued, it cannot be revoked.  If misuse or fraudulent acquisition of the PathA license is reported to the Office of the Professions, an investigation will be completed, and fraudulent licenses can be revoked.

While it seems a legitimate license during the grandfathering period does come down to meeting the definition of CLIA high complexity testing, that does not meet the definition of "Pathologists' Assistant" in the AAPA’s view or the view of our members.

Ultimately, Pathologists’ Assistants must conform to CLIA rules for high complexity testing.  If grandfathered individuals do not meet at least CLIA requirements for high complexity testing, it would be appropriate to report these individuals to:

The University of the State of New York
The State Education Department Office of the Professions
Division of Professional Licensing Services
(see http://www.op.nysed.gov/opd/complain.htm).

After the Grandfathering Licensure Pathway has closed, the following qualifications are required:

§8852. Requirements for licensure as a pathologists’ assistant:

To qualify for licensure as a “licensed pathologists’ assistant,” an applicant shall fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education: to meet the education requirements for licensure as a pathologists’ assistant, you must either have successfully completed a bachelor’s or higher degree in a pathologists’ assistant program registered by the Department, or the substantial equivalent thereof, in accordance with the commissioner’s regulations; or have a bachelor’s or higher degree from a National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) accredited pathologists’ assistant program.
  • Examination: obtain a passing score on an examination acceptable to the department; the pathologists' assistant certification exam offered by the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification (ASCP-BOC) is an exam acceptable for licensure.
  • Age: at the time of application be at least twenty-one years of age.
  • Character: be of good moral character as determined by the department.
  • Fee: pay a fee determined by the department for an initial license and for each triennial registration period.

As the grandfathering period expires, we look forward to a New York State Pathologists’ Assistant licensure process where only those who meet examination and educational requirements will be granted a license.

The AAPA has created a detailed position statement regarding our serious concerns with granting a New York Pathologists’ Assistant license to unqualified individuals via an honor system during the grandfathering period that is not well understood by medical laboratory workers, some laboratories and pathologists.  In the position statement, the AAPA appeals to the State Education Department to require the following elements for licensure of Pathologists’ Assistants in New York State under §8852.

Requirements for licensure as a Pathologists’ Assistant:

  • Graduate from a NAACLS accredited Pathologists’ Assistant training program or prior to 2010 grandfathered on-the-job trained Pathologists’ Assistant
  • Obtain a passing score on the Pathologists’ Assistant ASCP-BOC Certification Examination
  • Earn 60 continuing education credits every three years (increased from 45 effective 1/1/2022) as required to maintain certification by the ASCP-BOC Credential Maintenance Program.

Please refer to the links below regarding New York law, article 168.

  1. Senate Bill S7932 2015-2016 Legislative Session. AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to the licensure of pathologists' assistants. https://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2015/S7932
  2. New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions. Laws, Rules, & Regulations. http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/patha/pathalaw.htm
  3. New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions. Pathologists’ Assistant License Requirements. http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/patha/pathalic.htm
  4. New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions. Pathologists’ Assistant License Application Forms. http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/patha/pathaforms.htm
  5. New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions. Professional Misconduct Enforcement, Enforcement Actions. http://www.op.nysed.gov/opd/rasearch.htm
  6. New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions. Professional Discipline Complaint Form. http://www.op.nysed.gov/documents/opd-complaint.pdf
  7. New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions. Professional Misconduct Enforcement, Discipline Complaint Form. http://www.op.nysed.gov/opd/complain.htm
  8. American Association of Pathologists’ Assistants, Pathologists’ Assistant Scope of Practice – updated 9/2018:  https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.pathassist.org/resource/resmgr/docs/2018_-_scope_of_practice.pdf

Comments...

Mary Latino says...
Posted Tuesday, May 7, 2019
We had an extra spot for a resident that opened up and a foreign medical grad was applying, calling himself a Pathologists' Assistant. I asked him if he truly was a pathologists' assistant and he told me of course he was- he had a NYS license. I told him quite frankly that did not make him a pathologists' assistant, but he told me " oh yes it did"- and he had been flashing that licensure around trying to get a resident slot in the "scramble" that happens after the resident match. He had no autopsy experience and had been taught by a pathologist from his country that was practicing in NYC. That pathologist obviously signed off on him. Needless to say we did not take him as a resident.

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