Physician Assistant Educational Requirements:
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 available at the master's level and often require applicants to have bachelor's degrees and some amount of experience in the healthcare profession to gain admission. Most physician assistants serve as emergency medical technicians, nurses or paramedics before pursuing admission to physician assistant programs.
- 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 are required to be licensed by the state in which they practice. Along with completion of an accredited training program, the licensing process entails passage of the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). PANCE, administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), evaluates fundamental medical and surgical comprehension (www.nccpa.net). Candidates who pass the PANCE may use the Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) designation.
-Physician assistants must maintain the PA-C designation by earning 100 continuing education credits every two years. They are also required to pass the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam every six years. PA-Cs are subject to recertification and testing fees
-Physician assistants may 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.
Link of the "American Academy of Physician Assistants":