AAPA Questions NY Licensure of PAs

Get new comments by email
You can cancel email alerts at anytime.
Comments (11)

PA in Rockville Centre, New York

20 months ago

The latest news about the AAPA's desire to negotiate with New York over licensure of Pathologist's Assistants is below. What are your thoughts? Is NY fine the way it is? Should the state create a new licensing category exclusive for PA's? Should the ASCP dare get involved in it?

As a practicing Pathologist's Assistant based in New York, I believe that all PA's must have a state license to practice. I, for one, have a Clinical Laboratory Technologist license. That in itself is enough. However, I would support the desire to create a new state licensing PA category, but only under the condition that current CLT/HT/state medical laboratory license holders be given the opportunity to be grandfathered in. Prerequisite requirements for grandfathering in should be graduation from an accredited university in biology or related allied health field (NOT specifically from an NAACLS PA program) plus experience according to hours spent grossing (whether hospital or private lab-based).

With the regard to the ASCP, they should not be sticking their noses in this situation at all. If they're lobbying for NY to have ALL PA's be ASCP certified, that would only spell disaster and lead to the laying off of many PA's. Basically, you would have the same exact situation all over again from when NY first put the state licenses into practice! Either the ASCP should completely get rid of their one route PA certification requirement, or NY should get special treatment (like grandfathering current NY PA's into ASCP certification, regardless of where they graduated from, based on the conditions I previously stated).

Those are my thoughts on the PA situation in New York.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

PA in Rockville Centre, New York

20 months ago

Alert to Pathologists’ Assistants Regarding New York

The State of New York has again begun issuing statements that raise questions about the legality of Pathologists’ Assistants practicing in New York. At this time, the AAPA advises any members who in the past have obtained any sort of clinical laboratory license in New York to renew and maintain their licenses. Additionally, be advised that Pathologists’ Assistants currently working in New York without a license or thinking about taking employment in New York might be told to obtain a state license.

New York has for years offered conflicting statements regarding the status of Pathologists’ Assistants, and the AAPA has been actively lobbying for the interests of our members for years. Here is a brief history of this evolving situation. In 2005, the New York Legislature passed the Clinical Laboratory Technology Act creating only three license categories for lab workers: Clinical Laboratory Technologists, Clinical Laboratory Technicians, and Cytotechnologists. After the law took effect in 2006, the state recognized that the law was deficient in that no license category was provided for other specialties in the laboratory. In 2006, the AAPA sent a letter to the state Commissioner of Health asking that a separate category for Pathologists’ Assistants be created under the portion of state law that recognizes Physicians Assistants and other specialty practitioners. Our request was denied.

Another bill was introduced to the New York legislature in 2007 to create a license for Histological Technicians (as New York calls it) in order to remedy problems caused by the 2006 law. At that time, the AAPA and ASCP contacted legislators to ask that a category for Pathologists’ Assistants be created, or that at least the state regulatory agencies be permitted to create new license categories if needed. The bill passed and took effect in 2008, but without any of the modifications we requested.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

PA in Rockville Centre, New York

20 months ago

At that time, histotechs became licensed, but no provision was made for Pathologists’ Assistants.

The AAPA continued a dialogue with state regulators regarding Pathologists' Assistants. In 2009, we were notified in writing by the state Education Department that the Clinical Laboratory Licensing law did not apply to Pathologists’ Assistants, and that no license was required in order to practice in New York. From 2009 until 2012, Pathologists’ Assistants have had no difficulty in pursuing work in New York without a license.

In the last few months, however, we have received several communications from state officials indicating that the state has reversed its stand on Pathologists’ Assistants practicing in New York. The Education Department is now saying that a license is required to practice in New York. Regardless of the stand taken by the Department of Education, it is the Department of Health that inspects laboratories in New York, and the Health Department has not begun to cite any laboratories that employ Pathologists’ Assistants. The messages we are receiving from the state are thus confusing.

At this time, there is a grandfathering period open for two clinical laboratory licenses in New York. One is for the Clinical Laboratory Scientist license, and the second is for Histological Technicians. This route to licensing, however, might prove to be of little or no practical use for Pathologists’ Assistants for several reasons. First, the grandfathering process provides a time-limited license expressly for the purpose of allowing someone to work in New York while studying and taking an examination for CLS or HT. The license will expire on September 1, 2013, and cannot be renewed.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

PA in Rockville Centre, New York

20 months ago

Secondly, in order to apply for this temporary license, the applicant must prove that they have obtained education that is equivalent to that required for a CLS or HT license, and the New York Department of Education determines whether or not an individual’s education is “equivalent”. We have no reason at this time to believe that the state would certify a Pathologists’ Assistant’s training as “equivalent” to either the CLS or HT educational requirements.

Over the years, the AAPA has worked to protect the interests of our members in New York, and we are continuing to do so. We are actively reaching out to state officials in both the Education and Health Departments, and we will be lobbying with legislators as necessary to clarify the status of Pathologists' Assistants in New York and to ask for reasonable, practical regulations regarding these issues. We are also reaching out to the ASCP and other interested groups for support in this matter. If you have any direct contact with New York state officials or legislators or other significant parties/individuals regarding these issues, please communicate that information to the AAPA as well so that we may best serve the interests of our members in New York.

Regards,

Rosie Falcon, PA(ASCP)
AAPA BOT Adjunct, Legislative

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (1) / No Reply - Report abuse

PA in Rockville Centre, New York

20 months ago

CLARIFICATION

What Rosie says about grandparenting here is false: "First, the grandfathering process provides a time-limited license expressly for the purpose of allowing someone to work in New York while studying and taking an examination for CLS or HT. The license will expire on September 1, 2013, and cannot be renewed." That is wrong.

According to the NYS Office of the Professions website, there are 3 routes to licensing:
Pathways to licensure for Clinical Laboratory Technologist and for Certified Clinical Laboratory Technician include:

The special provisions (grandparenting): Applicants may meet various special provisions including experience and/or education to be licensed without examination.
The transition pathway: This will apply to those who have recently graduated or who are currently in educational programs. This pathway will expire on September 1, 2013.
The standard pathway: This will generally apply to those who will attend a program registered as licensure qualifying or the substantial equivalent as determined by the department.

It is the TRANSITION pathway that expires in 2013...NOT the grandparenting pathway. Grandparenting gives you a PERMANENT license to practice in NY.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (4) / No Reply - Report abuse

cory8507 in Houston, Texas

19 months ago

As a current ASCP certified medical technologist, who is about to start Pathologist’s Assistant School, I completely disagree with you. Your argument seems completely biased and totally in your own favor. It would be nice if I did not have to shell out $100,000 and 2 years of my life attending PA school. How convenient it would be to simply become a PA(ASCP) with my B.S. in Medical Technology (solely). However, medical technologists are not taught how to gross, dictate, perform autopsies, etc. Basically, medical technologists are no more qualified to do the work of pathologists’ assistant than someone who holds a degree in biology.

My point: If you want to be a PA, go to PA School. If you’re not up for that then you should figure out something else to do with your life. Your post is an insult to anyone that has went to PA School and has truly earned his or her credentials. The AAPA should totally get involved. I for one am disgusted that it has taken this long for them take control of the profession and weed out all the hacks.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (6) / No (2) Reply - Report abuse

PA in Rockville Centre, New York

19 months ago

No, my argument is not completely biased and totally in my own favor. It is for all those PAs who were on-the-job trained or have graduated from a non-NAACLS-accredited PA program or other program catering to the PA field. The reality of it is that a Master's degree is definitely not an absolute requirement in order to perform the duties of a Pathologist's Assistant, and I speak from experience on that point. Those programs are nothing but a money-making scheme to overload you with useless information when all you need is ONE year of clinical experience. The didactic portion could easily be given on an undergrad level. The decision to make this program a Master's degree-level one was a wrong choice. A bachelor's degree is enough, or they can institute a certificate program to gain clinical experience if you haven't gotten it in college.

And you can put the blame on the ASCP-NAACLS conglomerate for having to go through $100,000 of debt just to become a PA. Their decision to have all PA candidates go through a NAACLS-accredited Master's program just to practice as a PA is downright ludicrous. I'm not sure how familiar you are with their history of licensing PAs, but the decision to license them this way is fairly recent (2006). Before then, you just needed a bachelor's degree from a medically/scientifically-based background with 3 years of OJT experience. Now, it's only one route, which I stated previously (and you can review the ASCP website to confirm that).

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

PA in Rockville Centre, New York

19 months ago

[continued]

This does nothing but harm the profession, given the extreme scarcity of PA programs out there in this country as well as the very high demand for PAs nationally. It's ludicrous for the ASCP to limit certification to only one route because of these facts. Meanwhile, if you take a look at the ASCP's website about the other health professions, there are more than one route listed for each of those! It's unbelievable. As a result, New York is doing the entire profession a great service by not requiring ASCP-certified PAs to practice in this state. The NAACLS-ASCP ego will get the best of the them in this profession (which was started by Quinnipiac, after all, and I won't go into the ego problem prevalent in that neck of the woods).

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

cory8507 in Houston, Texas

19 months ago

How is your post not biased when you’re arguing for variables and loopholes that apply to your circumstances? The fact that you are so close to the situation simply damages the legitimacy of opinions. Furthermore, since when does improving the educational standards of a profession put that profession at a disadvantage? Just so you know, most health care professions usually correspond with one major certification program that is consistent across all 50 states (with only a few exceptions). In this case, it is the ASCP. With that in mind, it is simply absurd to argue against the ASCP unifying their standards for the profession. We saw this a few years ago when ASCP and NCA merged. This led to one universally accepted certification. Certifying boards enhance the legitimacy of a profession and allow the people in society to “know” that you are competent. If you can’t grasp this then I question your motives as well the weak premise behind you arguments.

If you and your buddies were grandfathered into ASCP a few back (when that option was available) then you have nothing to worry about. Otherwise, you might want to get cracking on your applications to PA School. Lastly, most educational programs teach you way more than you need to know to do your job. This is a universal truth of any degree. If you’re worried about the number of PAs declining, your argument should be geared toward the school’s admissions dept and the small number of students they accept (all the programs combined accepted less than 100 students annually). It should not be geared toward bashing the improved educational model or a certification board that has proven to be the gold standard among laboratory professions. Your primary focus seems to be on preventing a few unqualified people from losing their jobs. On the other hand, some of us actually want to see the PA progression move forward.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (4) Reply - Report abuse

PA in Rockville Centre, New York

19 months ago

I'm not asking for variables or loopholes that apply to my circumstances. Speaking from experience, I know exactly how New York operates (having grown up and worked here my whole life). Let's just get one thing straight before continuing this discussion: you're a NEW PA applicant with no work experience as a PA (according to your first post). Before making any comments about PA certification, it would help if you actually understood what's going on (especially in NY).

The fact that I'm "so close to the situation" does give me legitimacy in making a case here. The ASCP can unify its standards all it wants. The fact remains is that individual states don't have to comply with them. The ASCP is not a federal agency at all. It is a PRIVATE organization, just like the AAPA is....FOR-PROFIT, I might add (which definitely reflects upon them as a crediting agency). New York does not pay homage to the ASCP when it comes to allowing people to work here. To require ASCP certification for PAs to practice in NY is downright absurd. To the best of my knowledge, there is no state mandate in ANY state that requires PAs to hold such a certification. If you take a look at various job ads, some require ASCP certification and others just a relevant degree and work experience. There will always be a mix of requirements out there, that's for sure. NY can certainly create its own PA license if it so chooses (and if it does so, it will offer a grandparenting option for all practicing PAs).

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (2) / No (1) Reply - Report abuse

PA in Rockville Centre, New York

19 months ago

Another thing: I got cracking on my applications to PA school last year, and I was accepted. I attended for one semester and then withdrew. I was completely blinded by thinking that I needed to be ASCP-certified in order to do my job. Boy, was I wrong! After having graduated from a non-NAACLS-accredited PA program with four years of work experience, I found the program to be a waste of my time and money. Once I received an offer from my current job, I quickly withdrew and got out of there in a heartbeat. All that ASCP certification can do for you in this field is to widen your job opportunities and to give you a small salary boost (which really isn't much at all).

I'm very grateful to return to the PA field with a great employer who values skills and experience over a simple piece of paper. As far as salary goes, I'm starting out with what fresh ASCP-certified Master's degree people would get, so for me, it's useless to go through ANOTHER curriculum just to obtain ASCP certification. Luckily, my employer is in talks with a medical school that might open up its own PA program in the future, which I've been offered to do some teaching at if/when it opens. Then by association, I just might end up getting ASCP certified anyway, so I'm not worried in the least.

My heart does go out to you for having to go into six figures of debt just to enter this profession. That's such a shame since nobody should have to go through any of that in order to work in this field. Instead of petitioning the ASCP to mandate licenses, maybe you should start petitioning them to offer substantial scholarships for these programs. Get to work on that, and let me know how it goes.

- Was this comment helpful? Yes (7) / No (16) Reply - Report abuse

» Sign in or create an account to comment on this topic.