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Paulk One of Only Two Physician Assistants in New Jersey to Earn Emergency Medicine Certification


Donna Paulk, PA-C, certified physician assistant (PA) site director at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., recently earned the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants’ (NCCPA) certificate of added qualifications (CAQ) in emergency medicine. Paulk is one of only two emergency department PAs in New Jersey to achieve this designation.

Certified PAs are licensed and certified health care professionals who practice medicine with physician supervision and bring a breadth of knowledge and skills to patient care. Although their role in any particular workplace is determined in consultation with the supervising physician, certified PAs can take histories, conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventative health care, assist in surgery, perform a variety of procedures and write prescriptions.

Paulk, who has worked for Emergency Medical Associates since 1997 and has served as the PA site director for 7 years, said the CAQ review and testing process helped reinforce the clinical skills that she knew she had, while also providing an opportunity to increase her knowledge in areas that she wasn’t as proficient, such as toxicology.

“I’m committed to Emergency Medical Associates and being a PA,” said Paulk, who passed the exam in September. “The CAQ reassured me that I’m where I need to be professionally.”

2011 marked the first year for the CAQ program. Paulk said that while the certification isn’t currently mandatory for emergency department PAs, it may be in the future. Only 142 certified PAs nationally have earned a CAQ in emergency medicine.

“We offer heartfelt congratulations to the inaugural class of CAQ recipients,” said NCCPA President and CEO Janet Lathrop. “With the shortage of physicians growing each day in the U.S., it is promising to see certified PAs step up and voluntarily submit themselves to new standards for the benefit of the patients they serve each and every day.”

“The CAQ provides national recognition for mid-levels,” said Paulk. “It’s a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our competency in the emergency medicine field.”

According to NCCPA, physician assistants seeking the emergency medicine CAQ must demonstrate they have advanced knowledge and experience in emergency medicine above and beyond that expected of entry-level PAs or PAs working in a generalist practice. PAs seeking eligibility for the Emergency Medicine Specialty Examination must meet requirements of specialty-specific continuing medical education (CME), experience in the field and specific knowledge or experience in conducting procedures and being involved in patient cases that are deemed core to the specialty area of practice.

The Emergency Medicine CAQ exam is given once a year.

About Emergency Medical Associates
Emergency Medical Associates (EMA), headquartered in Livingston, N.J., is a  medical practice that specializes in emergency, hospitalist and urgent care medicine. Dedicated to providing exceptional solutions for the measurable success of our hospital partners, EMA is recognized for clinical excellence, quality service and sustained improved patient satisfaction. For more information, visit, or


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