PA-C Emeritus Credentials


What is the PA-C Emeritus Credential?

The PA-C Emeritus credentials were announced by the NCCPA on October 25th, 2016 as a method to pay respect to formal Physician Assistants who went above and beyond during their lifelong dedication to the PA profession. It is strictly an honorary title. This award is a third level of prestige among the accepted PA credentials (PA-S, PA-C, and PA-C Emeritus)

How do you get the PA-C Emeritus Credential?

According to the press release on the NCCPA website, this new credential will be awarded to those PAs who:

  1. Are at least 60 years old or unable to practice due to permanent disability
  2. Are retired from clinical practice
  3. Have been NCCPA-certified at least 20 cumulative years as a PA
  4. Have no reported actions in their NCCPA disciplinary history

You can apply for the credentials here:

Note the language in the above paragraph – “those PAs who:” I find this interesting because the NCCPA is historically very careful with the wording of its press releases. There is quite a bit of ambiguity here. Do I have to meet all of those requirements or just one? Will every person who met these requirements be given the designation?

I almost forgot the other stipulation- It’s $50. That money will go to “expand the NCCPA Endowed Scholarship that funds three annual scholarships to PA Students”… (seriously either the NCCPA has something to hide or the person writing their press releases is paranoid… the fee is going to a scholarship that funds other scholarships… why would you not just cut out the middle man and directly fund three scholarships?)

When Are Applications Due?

Applications are being accepted through the end of 2017. *cough* *cough* … Or so that’s what the NCCPA is claiming. This is kind of like Khol’s threatening that their sales are about to end…(hint: they never do). Reminder: The NCCPA is a business, this credential is a new product that they are selling, and it might go away so buy now. That being said, I am a proponent of distributing this credential and I do think its implementation is a good idea.

Note: I was contacted by the NCCPA Public Relations manager on 1/17/2017 to clarify this point, here is a direct quote from our email conversation that clarifies and justifies the point I touched on above: “The article on the PA-Emeritus is misleading since it says applications are being accepted through 2017. The press release states “Through the end of 2017, NCCPA will accept applications from all PAs meeting the requirements above. Beginning in 2018, applications will only be accepted from currently certified PAs, to be awarded when their PA-C certification expires.”  In other words, the 2017 deadline was only for PAs whose certification had already expired/lapsed so they had a chance to apply for this designation.”

I apologize for being presumptuous.

How Cool will I be if I get this credential?

Frivolous academic credentials such as this are common throughout academia but seem to be the bees knees to medical academics in particular. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the NCCPA CEO and President Dawn Morton-Rias Ed.D, PA-C has an academic background (Dean of SUNY’s College of Health Related professions) and is conveniently approaching retirement (she’s been a PA for over 30 years) just in time to be awarded a new credential. I find that kind of hilarious and kudos to her if she had that in mind when following through with the new credential system.

One interesting note: From Kindergarten through Grad school academic success is measured through aptitude tests and there’s always a way to skip ahead – 9.6% of highschool graduates already had at least a full course worth of college credits in 2012 (and that number was ~20% in Illinois) — Let me be clear: honorary titles like that of PA-C emeritus are granted as commemoration for entire careers and are understandably don’t require a placement exam. I’m not so convinced for any credential that is typically granted during the career after meeting a time requirement (ex. 10 years in the field). There are thousands of these titles just in the medical field alone but one example is the MLA AHIP Credential (any maybe the PA field is heading in a similar direction). Applicants are eligible for provisional credentials if they have less than 5 years experience, Senior credentials at 5+ years and Distinguished (similar to emeritus) at 10+ years. Although while researching for this article, I did find discover that many other institutions that have tiered credential systems often require some measured level of professional accomplishment which most often includes continuing education and individual accomplishments.

Please feel free to comment below if I missed anything or was too opinionated (sorry if that’s the case, I’m admittedly feeling cranky right now). I always love to hear back from the NPAE community!





  1. Peter I. Berge, JD, MPA, PA 15 November, 2017 at 20:09 Reply

    “Frivolous academic credentials such as this are common throughout academia but seem to be the bees knees to medical academics in particular. ”

    In my opinion, PA-C Emeritus isn’t a frivolous academic credential, but rather a frivolous professional credential. “PA-C” is a professional title reflecting passage (and maintenance) of NCCPA certification, which has no academic standing whatsoever. The PA-C E. recognizes longevity in maintaining the PA-C without any disciplinary record with NCCPA, age, and having left practice by dint of retirement or disability. A pretty low bar, I think, but that’s okay. As far as I can tell, it’s a fundraising gimmick to augment their foundation’s coffers.

    I’ve lost a lot of respect for NCCPA in the last few years, so I thought hard about applying for this, but since the money appears to go toward scholarships and not operations, I went for it.

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