What are the Continuing Medical Education Requirements for Physician Assistants

PA Coaching • September 15, 2023

Are you a physician assistant looking to stay up-to-date with the latest medical knowledge and maintain your certification? In this video, we’ll guide you through the essential information you need to know about Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements for physician assistants.

I discuss the importance of CME, the number of credits you need, the types of activities that qualify, and where to find reputable CME resources. Stay on top of your game and ensure you provide the best care for your patients by understanding and fulfilling your CME obligations.

What are the Continuing Medical Education Requirements for Physician Assistants

Physician Assistants (PAs) play a crucial role in the healthcare system, working alongside physicians to provide quality patient care. However, the journey to becoming a certified PA doesn’t end with graduation from PA school. In fact, it’s just the beginning.

PAs are required to participate in Continuing Medical Education (CME) to maintain their certification and stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in medicine. In this article, we will delve into the world of CME for PAs, discussing its significance, different categories, and how to fulfill these requirements.

The Importance of Continuing Medical Education

Think about this for a second: you’ve graduated from PA school, passed your board exams, and obtained your state license. You’re now a certified PA, ready to embark on your career. However, just when you thought the studying was over, you realize that continuing medical education is a vital component of your professional journey. Learning never stops in the medical field, and for PAs, it’s a requirement to maintain certification.

Understanding Continuing Medical Education (CME)

CME stands for Continuing Medical Education, and it is a comprehensive system designed to ensure that healthcare professionals, including PAs, continually enhance their knowledge and skills. The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) provides guidelines and resources for PAs to fulfill their CME requirements effectively.

Categories of CME Credits

Continuing Medical Education is divided into two main categories: Category 1 CME credits and Category 2 CME credits.

Category 1 CME Credits

Category 1 CME credits require documentation as proof of participation. PAs need to provide evidence that they attended a specific conference, event, or course to receive these credits. These credits are more structured and typically involve formal educational activities. To maintain your certification, you must accumulate 100 continuing medical education credits over a two-year cycle, with at least 50 of those credits falling under Category 1.

Category 1 CME credits include activities such as:

  • Certification Courses: Courses that lead to certifications such as Basic Life Support (BLS) or Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS).
  • Conferences and Events: Attendance at medical conferences, seminars, and workshops that issue certificates of completion.
  • Journal Reading: Some medical journals offer Category 1 CME credits for reading and taking associated quizzes.
  • Online Services: Various online platforms provide Category 1 CME opportunities.

It’s crucial to maintain documentation for all Category 1 CME activities, as you will need to submit proof during your recertification process. You can log your CME credits and documentation through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) website.

Category 2 CME Credits

Category 2 CME credits encompass a broader range of medically related activities. Unlike Category 1, they do not require documentation or formal proof of participation. These credits are more flexible and allow PAs to earn credit for activities that contribute to their medical knowledge and practice. Category 2 credits are often accumulated through daily professional experiences.

Examples of Category 2 CME activities include:

  • Journal Reading: Any medical journal reading, whether related to a specific topic or general medical knowledge.
  • Local Meetings: Attendance at local medical meetings or events that aren’t necessarily structured CME activities.
  • Teaching and Education: Teaching medical topics, mentoring students, or conducting lectures.
  • Patient Education: Activities involving educating patients about their health.

Category 2 CME credits provide more flexibility, as many of these activities are part of a PA’s daily routine. While they don’t require documentation, it’s essential to maintain a personal record of these activities for reference.

Meeting CME Requirements

PAs have a two-year cycle to accumulate 100 CME credits, with at least 50 falling under Category 1. It’s essential to pace yourself and not leave CME requirements until the last minute. Regularly updating your knowledge and skills is not only a professional responsibility but also a way to provide the best care to your patients.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the steps to meet CME requirements:

  1. Identify CME Opportunities: Keep an eye out for conferences, events, courses, and online resources that offer Category 1 CME credits. Ensure they are AAPA-approved if in doubt.
  2. Maintain Documentation: For Category 1 CME activities, always save certificates or documentation of your participation. Organize these documents for easy access during the recertification process.
  3. Log Your Credits: Utilize the NCCPA website or AAPA’s tools to log your CME credits. It’s a good practice to log Category 2 credits as well, even though they don’t require documentation.
  4. Stay Informed: Continuously seek opportunities for learning. Whether it’s through reading journals, attending local meetings, or engaging in patient education, make learning a part of your routine.
  5. Recertify When Due: PAs need to recertify their certification every 10 years. This process involves retaking the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).


Continuing Medical Education is an integral part of a Physician Assistant’s professional journey. It ensures that PAs remain current with the latest developments in healthcare, ultimately benefiting patient care. By understanding the different categories of CME credits and fulfilling the requirements consistently, PAs can maintain their certification and continue making a positive impact in the medical field. Remember, in the world of medicine, learning never stops, and embracing CME is a testament to a PA’s commitment to excellence in healthcare.

Also read: Healthcare Structure Explained: Nurses, NPs, PAs, and Physicians

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!