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How long does it take to become a surgical physician assistant? Will there be additional years after PA school because of extra training for surgery?

Is there extra training additional to the 2 years of PA school.

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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Ava-Gail,

Becoming a surgical physician assistant typically involves the following steps:

Education: To become a physician assistant (PA), individuals must complete a PA program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). These programs usually take about 2 years to complete and result in a master’s degree.

Certification: After completing a PA program, individuals must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) to become certified and obtain a state license to practice.

Specialization in Surgery: If a PA wishes to specialize in surgery, they may pursue additional training or experience in surgical settings. This can include postgraduate surgical residencies or fellowships that provide specialized training in surgical procedures and patient care within surgical specialties.

Additional Training for Surgical PAs: While additional training beyond PA school is not always mandatory to work in surgery as a PA, some PAs choose to pursue further education or training to enhance their skills and knowledge in surgical practices. This additional training can vary depending on the specific requirements of the employer or specialty area.

In summary, while there may be opportunities for additional training or specialization in surgery after completing PA school, it is not always a strict requirement for practicing as a surgical physician assistant.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Used:

American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA): The AAPA is a professional organization that provides resources and information on the education, certification, and practice of physician assistants, including those specializing in surgery.

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA): The NCCPA is responsible for certifying physician assistants through the administration of the PANCE exam and setting standards for PA practice, which may include guidelines for specialized training in surgery.

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA): ARC-PA is the accrediting body that evaluates and accredits PA programs to ensure they meet established standards for quality education and training in preparation for PA practice, including potential specialization in surgical fields.

God Bless You, Richly, JC.
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Becoming a Surgical Physician Assistant (PA) involves several steps and can include additional training beyond the standard PA program. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the process and timeline:

### Education and Training Pathway:

1. **Undergraduate Education (4 years):**
- Earn a Bachelor’s degree, ideally in a science-related field. Common majors include biology, chemistry, or health sciences. Make sure to complete prerequisite courses required for PA programs, such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and chemistry.

2. **Physician Assistant Program (2-3 years):**
- Enroll in an accredited PA program, which typically takes 2 to 3 years to complete and leads to a Master’s degree. PA programs include classroom instruction and clinical rotations in various medical specialties, including surgery.

3. **Licensure and Certification:**
- Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) to become a certified PA (PA-C).
- Obtain state licensure to practice as a PA.

### Specialized Training for Surgical PAs:

4. **Surgical PA Residency/Fellowship (Optional, 1-2 years):**
- Although not mandatory, many aspiring Surgical PAs choose to complete a post-graduate surgical residency or fellowship program to gain specialized skills and experience in surgery. These programs typically last 1 to 2 years and provide intensive training in preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care.

### Total Timeframe:

- **Undergraduate Degree:** 4 years
- **PA Program:** 2-3 years
- **Optional Surgical Residency/Fellowship:** 1-2 years

### Summary:

- **Minimum Total Time Without Additional Training:** Approximately 6-7 years (4 years undergraduate + 2-3 years PA program)
- **Total Time With Additional Surgical Training:** Approximately 7-9 years (4 years undergraduate + 2-3 years PA program + 1-2 years surgical residency/fellowship)

### Key Points to Consider:

- **Clinical Rotations:** During your PA program, make the most of surgical rotations to build foundational skills and confirm your interest in the specialty.
- **Experience:** Gaining experience through internships, volunteering, or working in surgical settings can be highly beneficial.
- **Continuing Education:** Stay updated with continuing medical education (CME) to maintain certification and licensure, and to keep up with advancements in surgical practices.

By following these steps, you can become a highly skilled Surgical PA, equipped with the necessary training and expertise to excel in the surgical field. If you have more specific questions or need further guidance, feel free to ask!

Best of luck on your journey to becoming a Surgical PA!

Kind regards,
Career Counsellor Psychologist Muhammad Shakeel
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Godfrey’s Answer

Basically one is request to have done a medical degree like Bachelor in nursing or other science degree the U can proceed to do a masters in Physician Assistant with takes two to three years to complete the you can get attached to major hospital in surgical department for about 1-2 years for you to a well equipped Surgical physician assistant
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Hwal’s Answer


I'm a PA in my fourth year of practice, and I'm glad you're considering becoming a PA. PAs practice in every medical specialty and clinical setting, and I'm in the process of transitioning from primary care to a different specialty. Here's a great to the American Association of Surgical PAs which I think you might find helpful:

PA training is 27 months on average with about 7 consecutive semesters of didactic and clinical education, and many of the surgical PAs that I know of or learned about have completed postgraduate residency or fellowship of varying length. Here's an article about a day in the life of a PA surgical resident, and the link also includes several other related resources:

I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have any specific questions I can help with. Good luck!