CAQ - Certificate of Added Qualification

Specialty Certification for Physicians and Physician Assistants

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CAQ stands for Certificate of Added Qualification. A CAQ enables a physician or physician assistant (PA) to add to his or her skill set and qualifications, without completing an additional full fellowship training program.

A CAQ consists of additional coursework, clinical education, and testing of a sub-specialized technique, procedure or area of medicine within the physician's medical specialty or a physician assistant's area of practice.

A CAQ sometimes doesn't take as long as a fellowship, so physicians may complete them mid-career as needed. A fellowship often takes six months to two years, whereas the CAQ could take a few weeks or months, depending on the CAQ. However, some CAQs require a full fellowship in the specialty of as much as two years. CAQs can help the physician learn a new procedure, surgical technique, or sub-specialty area.

Here are examples of Certificate of Added Qualifications for family medicine practitioners and for physician assistants.

American Board of Family Medicine Certificates of Added Qualifications

These CAQs are offered for family physicians who are certified by the ABFM and Diplomates in good standing, maintaining their Family Medicine Certification. The exams for the CAQ are computer-based. Once earned, the certificate must be renewed every 10 years by taking the exam again.

  • Adolescent Medicine: Requirements include a two-year, full-time training in an Adolescent Medicine fellowship program approved by the ACGME.
  • Geriatric Medicine: Requirements include completing an ACGME-accredited fellowship training program in Geriatric Medicine.
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine: Must satisfactorily complete 12 months of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship training.
  • Pain Medicine: Must complete a 12-month, ACGME-accredited fellowship training program in pain medicine.
  • Sleep Medicine: Must complete 12 months of sleep medicine fellowship training accredited by the ACGME.
  • Sports Medicine:  Must complete a minimum of one year in an ACGME-accredited sports medicine fellowship program associated with an ACGME-accredited residency in Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, or Pediatrics.

Physician Assistant CAQ - National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants

The specialty Certificates of Added Qualification available through NCCPA for physician assistants are Cardiovascular/Thoracic Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Hospital Medicine, Nephrology, Orthopaedic Surgery, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry. In addition to the basic requirements, each specialty may have further requirements.

The requirements for CAQ through NCCPA for physician assistants include at least 150 credits of Category 1 CME in the specialty area in the past six years, with at least 50 of those credits in the past two years. The applicant also has to have gained at least 2000 to 4000 hours of physician assistant work experience in the specialty within the past six years. They must have an attestation from their supervising physician in the specialty stating they have performed the procedures and patient management relevant to this setting and understand them thoroughly.

If eligible, the physician assistant can then apply for and take the Certificate of Added Qualifications exam. To maintain certification, they must log at least 125 credits of Category 1 CME in the specialty each 10 years and recertify.

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