GET A LEAST YOUR BACHELOR'S
Before starting PA school, you typically need a bachelor's degree. Though not mandatory, an undergraduate degree in a science or health-related field is ideal. Many PA programs prefer that you have a health degree and some professional health care experience prior to admission. Working as a medical assistant during your undergraduate program is a way to get some of the necessary basic health care experience. There are several medical careers that can be pursued with a bachelor's degree.
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM
Prospective physician assistants must obtain formal training through an educational program approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). These programs are usually require applicants to have a bachelor's degrees and some amount of experience in the healthcare profession to gain admission. Most physician assistants serve as nurses, diagnostic medical sonography or paramedics before pursuing admission to a physician assistant program (see below for job descriptions).
Physician assistant programs generally take 26 months of full-time study to complete. During the first year, students focus on classroom instruction in medical science and clinical preparation. Courses may include pathology, pediatrics, diagnosis, surgical technique, emergency medicine, pharmacology and research methods. Afterward, the curriculum shifts to focus mostly on clinical rotations in various disciplines, such as general surgery, gynecology and behavioral medicine. During these rotations, students gain first-hand experience in patient care under the supervision of licensed physicians.
Physician assistants can choose to specialize in a particular field of medicine, such as internal medicine, surgery or pediatrics. Becoming a specialist entails completion of an additional postgraduate training program and certification from the NCCPA. Candidates for specialty certification must hold PA-C certification, have two years of experience and complete a specialty certification program. They may then become certified by passing a specialty exam. Specialty certification must be renewed every six years.
1.) REGISTERED NURSE (RN) – Many nurses start their careers with a 4-year bachelor's degree in nursing. After obtaining a degree, graduates must pass an exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing in order to obtain a RN license. Registered nurses help care for and treat patients who are living with various illnesses and conditions.
2.) MEDICAL SONOGRAPHY – Diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasound technology to form images of a patient's internal organs. Educational and training opportunities are available in 4-year bachelor's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) administers an exam leading to licensure.
3.) PARAMEDIC – Paramedic training programs are the most advanced education level and may be offered as an associate's degree program. Paramedic programs require students to earn multiple medical procedure credentials, such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. Associate's degree programs may require significant scientific coursework, including biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. Many programs require applicants to be certified EMTs and may prefer those who have experience.
Hope this Helpful Arisa,
John recommends the following next steps:
- Obtain your Bachelor of Science (BS) degree and complete the common prerequisite courses.
- Obtain your Healthcare Experience (HCE) or Patient Care Experience (PCE).
- Once you have your BS and acquired your HCE or PCE, it’s time to start preparing your PA application.