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PANCE ExamThe Complete Guide to Licensing Exam Certification for Physician Assistants
KaplanCopyright © 2005 Kaplan
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To become certified as a physician assistant, you must first graduate from a training program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) or a Surgeon Assistant program. This requirement also applies to those who have earned a medical degree outside the United States. Graduation from an accredited program makes you eligible to take the PANCE, an acronym that stands for Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. The ARC-PA commission was created to serve as the certifying body for the profession and functions as an independent testing body, autonomous from any particular school or training program.
PANCE at a Glance
Examination length: 6 hours total (administered in four 90-minute blocks)
Number of questions: 360 total (approx. 1 minute per question)
Question types: Multiple choice
Why You Have to Take the PANCE
Each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories have governmental agencies responsible for ensuring that the public is protected from unsafe and ineffective medical care and to regulate the practice of medical and allied health professionals within their borders. Each of these jurisdictions requires that you pass the PANCE to work as a physician assistant.
The PANCE, prepared by the ARC-PA, is a test of minimum competency designed to assess whether examinees have the knowledge and skills needed for entry-level practice. The PANCE tests your medical knowledge in addition to your ability to make competent judgments about patient care. The exam content is adjusted as needed over time to make sure that the skills, knowledge, and critical thinking skills tested remain consistent with the requirements of entry-level physician assistant responsibilities in the workplace.
What the PANCE Is Not
This is not a test of your intelligence or achievement. It is not a measure of your worth as a human being. It is not a reliable measure of your ultimate clinical success. It does not test every fact or skill you were taught in your physician assistant program. Rather, it is designed to measure the knowledge and judgment skills deemed most important for safe, competent patient care at the beginning of your clinical career.
Nearly all standardized licensure examinations are constructed around what's called an exam blueprint. Much as a builder uses blueprints to guide the construction of a house, an examination development group uses a content blueprint to guide the construction of an examination, referring to the blueprint to make decisions about what content to assess and the emphases of the exam, such as the number of items that will be needed to assess each skill or topic area. The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) groups the tasks you will be tested on using seven categories and has set the percent of items in PANCE that will be devoted to each category as follows:
Table 1-1. PANCE Content by Knowledge/Skill Areas
Let's look more specifically at the kinds of knowledge and skills tested within each of these seven areas.
1. History taking and performing physical examinations
Items in this category assess your knowledge of the disease etiology associated with presenting symptoms or clinical findings, risk factors for important conditions, pertinent history in important conditions, techniques of physical examination, and focused physical examination of selected conditions.
2. Using laboratory and diagnostic studies
Items in this category assess your knowledge of the indications for initial and subsequent diagnostic and lab tests, the cost effectiveness of diagnostic studies and procedures, the relevance of screening tests for selected conditions, and the use of normal and abnormal diagnostic data.
3. Formulating the most likely diagnosis
The items in this category assess your knowledge of how to interpret patient history, physical findings, and subjective and objective tests in the differentiation of selected disorders.
4. Clinical intervention
The items in this category assess your knowledge of the indications, contraindications, complications, and techniques for selected procedures; the nonpharmaceutic management of therapeutic regimens; follow-up and monitoring of therapeutic regimens; indications for hospital admission or to other facilities; recognizing medical emergencies; discharge planning; knowledge of medical or surgical options; universal precautions; sterile technique; informed consent; surgical principles; wound healing; and appropriate patient education regarding managing conditions and related risk factors.
5. Clinical therapeutics
The items in this category assess your knowledge of the pharmacokinetic properties of drugs used in the treatment of selected conditions; the indications, contraindications, side effects, and adverse reactions to drugs; the follow-up and monitoring of drug regimens; and the risks for, clinical presentation of, and treatment of drug interactions and acute drug toxicity.
6. Health maintenance
The items in this category assess your knowledge of the epidemiology of selected conditions; the risk factors for conditions that are preventable or detectable in asymptomatic patients; the relative value of common screening tests for preventable conditions or in asymptomatic patients; patient education regarding preventable conditions or lifestyle modifications; immunization schedules for infants, children, adults and foreign travelers; and the models of behavioral change and stress coping and reduction.
7. Applying scientific concepts
The items in this category assess your knowledge of the underlying pathologic processes or pathways associated with selected conditions; normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology, including growth, development, and sexuality; and normal and abnormal microbiology.
The PANCE content may also be understood in terms of the diseases, disorders, and medical assessments that you might encounter during the examination. The percent of questions for various organ systems is shown on the next page.
Table 1-2. PANCE Content by Disease/Disorders
By multiplying the proportional contribution of each disease category by the proportion of the exam dealing with each knowledge/skill area, one can form a matrix that illustrates the relative emphasis for various topics to be tested (Table I-3). Many students find that this is a rough but helpful way of determining how much study time to invest in reviewing one topic versus another.
Finally, the ultimate decision about the amount of time you will need to invest in becoming test-ready for each topic must take into account your own unique subject strengths and weakness. That being said, a content matrix for the PANCE is provided on the next page for your reference.
Copyright 2005 by Kaplan, Inc.
Excerpted from PANCE Exam by Kaplan Copyright © 2005 by Kaplan. Excerpted by permission.
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