The Canadian Certification Council of Pathologists’ Assistants – Conseil canadien de la certification des assistants en pathologie (CCCPA-CCCAP)

… is a certifying body for Pathologists’ Assistants in Canada. A certification body develops criteria against which an individual needs to demonstrate competencies and ensures that these criteria are held by applicants before certifying them. Those currently eligible (2020) for CCCPA-CCCAP PA certification include: graduates from NAACLS-accredited Master’s PA Programs, graduates from Master’s PA Programs without NAACLS accreditation, pathologist International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and On-The-Job (OJT) trained Pathologists’ Assistants. However, routes of CCCPA-CCCAP certification for graduates from programs without NAACLS accreditation, IMGs, and OJT applicants are set to expire on Dec 31, 2024.

The CCCPA-CCCAP oversees the administration of a certification exam for prospective members and a competency maintenance program for certified members. The CCCPA-CCCAP conforms to the requirements of ISO/IEC 17024 General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certifications of Persons.

Right now, Pathologists’ Assistants are not regulated in Canada. This means that at this time, PAs are not legally required to be certified to perform PA job duties. However, some employers may request that their PAs be certified, and may state that they require certification as a condition of hire of a PA. That decision is that of the individual employers.

​Clarification must be made regarding Certification of Pathologists’ Assistants and legal requirements for grossing personnel in Canada. Certification of Pathologists’ Assistants in Canada (and the majority of United States) is voluntary, in that the profession is not currently regulated by any province or most states. If your institution is accredited by the College of American Pathologists, then you are required to adhere to CLIA federal regulations; however those regulations do not state a legal requirement to employ certified personnel to perform high complexity testing and examine tissues.

​While certification is voluntary, certifying bodies such as ASCP and CCCPA work to set the gold standard for quality and continuing competency. There is increasing recognition by institutions to hire certified PAs throughout North America. In the United States, most institutions choose to hire ASCP certified PAs even though they have no legal obligation to do so. The same is becoming true in Canada regarding CCCPA-CCCAP certified PAs.

​A list of certified Pathologists’ Assistants in Canada can be found on the CCCPA website. In addition, because there is still a lack of formally educated PAs in Canada, many institutions can choose to hire those who are qualified for certification, but have not yet obtained certification.​


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