Certified Physician Assistant

In order to become a certified physician assistant which in as of 2011 the median income is $89,990 per year, you will need to follow the steps below:

  • Complete a physician assistant program that is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). These programs offer a mix of associates, bachelors and masters degree, both mostly masters degree which is highly suggested that you attain, in order to give you the best chances of getting a PA job. In order to get into one of these accredited PA programs, you will have to meet certain requirements which can include; a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, a minimum GPA of 3.0, submission of official Graduation Record Exam (GRE) scores, prerequisite courses completed with either a C or B or better, a background and drug test, submission of an application through Central Application Services for Physician Assistants (CASPA), letters of reference as well as a certain number of hours of hands-on clinical experience.
  • Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), which consists of 600 questions and lasts a total of 6 hours.
  • Apply for licensure through the state that you are going to work in.

The Certified Physician Assistant Specialties

There are a large number of certified PA specialties, which can be applied for with just a masters degree, but one can also choose to complete a residency in the specialty in which the wish to work in. As far as the specialties go, here are some of the main specialties that you will find certified physician assistant jobs:
  • Pediatrics
  • Oncology
  • Dermatology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Primary Care
  • Urology
  • Orthopedics
  • Internal, Emergency and Addiction Medicine
PA-C jobs are found in various places, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of the PA workplaces are:
  • Offices of physicians.
  • Schools and Universities
  • Surgical and General Hospitals
  • Outpatient Centers
  • Federal Agencies

Certified Physician Assistant Job Description

As far as the duties go for a certified physician assistant, they can range for each specialty, but for example purposes, here is a broad overview of what a PA-C does:
  • Provide the physician with assistance during surgeries.
  • Take not of patients medical histories.
  • Administer tests that will assist in diagnosing and treating patients, as well as interpreting these tests to patients.
  • Wound repair that can include suturing, casting, singing, tendon repair and more.
  • Prescribing medicine to patients. (Although there are still a few states which have rules and regulations against PA prescribing medication.)
  • Assuming the position of a physician during times that the physician leaves the office, which is generally found to be the case in rural areas.In cases like this, PA’s must be able to keep in contact with the physician by either phone calls or emails.
  • Ordering tests for patients which can include; CT scans, MRI’s, electrocardiograms, EMG’s
  • Creating health care plans that can include exercises, resource referrals and more and is generally an alternative plan.
  • Recruiting other physician assistants to fill in certified physician assistant positions.

Certified Physician Assistant Recertification

In order to continue practicing as a certified physician assistant, you must fulfill the following requirements:
  • Complete 300 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) every 6 years.
  • Complete either the certified physician assistant recertification examination every six years, or an alternative learning program which includes learning experiences as well as a take home test.