The fairly new Physician Assistant field, established in the late 1960’s, is growing very fast especially in areas where they are having trouble hiring good physicians.
The job itself offers, for those who meet the career requirements, a bright and secure career in a field where there are always jobs and can allow some to combine their passion for helping people when it comes to healthcare, with an excellent salary which the medium is currently at $90,000 per year, and with some metropolitan cities earning over 140,000 annually.
If you are interested in getting paid for your passion, then we have all the information you need on learning exactly what all the requirements are for becoming a PA as well as all-encompassing information what this career is about as well as the positive outlook predictions when it comes to the growing number of PA jobs in the future.
Admission Requirements For Becoming A Physician Assistant
Before enrolling in a physician assistant training program, there are a few physician assistant requirements that you must meet in order to be accepted. Being that requirements tend to vary for each state, the best thing you should do in order to find out what your schools demands are for admissions are is to contact the PA school that you wish to attend. This is a main overview of what can be required, regarding to experience one must have when it comes to work experience and schooling:
1. A high school education or GED.
2. All programs require their applicants need to have at least 60 credits or 2 years of college
courses, with almost all accredited physician assistant programs requiring students to have a bachelors degree.
3. Statistics show that over half of incoming physician assistant students have a college degree, so it may to your favor to attain a college degree. To make sure that you are taking the right courses, The American Association of Physician Assistants has compiled a list of different course studies that an aspiring PA should take, and those are; English, Biology, Psychology, Chemistry with Organic Chemistry being a favored course, Mathematics and Social Science.
4. Many physician assistant programs list in their physician assistant requirements that the student having some type of hands-on training in a medical clinical setting. The work experience requirements can range anywhere from a limited amount of experience all the way up to a year or more. This work can include some of the following; emergency medical assistant, paramedic, military medic and certified nurse’s assistant.
5. Official Graduation Record Examination (GRE) scores are also part of the admission process, which usually need to be taken in the last 5 years before one applies to the applies to the program.
6. Submission of your application through Central Application Services for Physician Assistants (CASPA).
7. Background checks and certain immunizations along with a drug test.
8. Letters of reference, which it is suggested that at least one comes from a working physician.
9. A Basic Life Support (BLS) certification is part of many programs.
10. Meeting certain technical skills requirements like; communication, motor skills, critical reasoning, behavioral and social skills among others.
11. The possibility of having to maintain health insurance among other insurance.
12. Either a US citizen or a permanent non-resident.
Physician Assistant Job Description
The main job description of a physician assistant is one who is a certified medical professional, that practices medicine under limited supervision of either a physician or a surgeon which task are generally performed by the physician themselves. PA’s provide their work at places like; hospitals, private practices, outpatient care centers, traditional office settings, academic medical centers and prisons. As far as the job description goes, the physician assistant requirements that are expected on the work place are:
- Provide assistance during surgeries.
- Gather the medical background of patients.
- Both diagnosing as well as the treatment of illnesses.
- Order tests that patients need along with interpret them to the patient after the tests are complete.
- Prescribing prescriptions to assist patients needs.
- Help patients create a plan for preventive health care.
This is an overview of the job description of a physician assistant. But note, like most all other fields, there are multiple different physician assistant specialties with different aspects of patient care. Some of these are:
1. Primary Care (More than half of all PA’s work in this specification)
3. Emergency Medicine
4. Internal Medicine
The physician assistant prerequisites for becoming a specialist in a certain specification are that one must be certified by the NCCPA which includes taking higher education programs and passing any testing that is involved. Although it may just seem like more schooling, it has been shown that by completing higher education in the form of a residency in a specialty, it can significantly boost one’s income with numbers for particular areas like Dermatology and Emergency Medicine as well as Neurosurgery among other areas have the possibility to earn any more a great portion more than the average median.
Physician Assistant Certification Requirements
In order to take the final step in your pursuit to start your career as a physician assistant, you must pass your certification/licensing exam. The exam is referred to as Physicians Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) that is given out by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The test itself lasts 6 hours and consists of 360 questions which are separated into 6 sections of 60 questions, offering one minute for each question to be answered. The test will go into great detail about all that was discussed in your program and is suggested that you be very well versed in subjects like; anatomy, pharmacology,physiology and medical pathology. In order to take this test, you must provide proof of the following:
- The successful completion of a physician assistant program that is accredited by the standards of the NCCPA. You will know if these programs are accredited if they are listed as ARC-PA which is the Accredited Review Commission of Education for the Physician Assistant. Once the student meets the program’s requirements for admission and is accepted into the program, they will train full time for anywhere from 24 to 30 months which will consist of both classroom training for in the beginning focusing on subjects like chemistry, microbiology and pathology, as well as clinical rotations later on where students partake in a myriad of specialties like; surgery, internal and emergency medicine, psychiatry, family medicine, obstetrics and more. There are currently 159 accredited PA programs in the country, all of which have similar admission requirements, so if you don’t get accepted to one but fulfill their requirements you can apply to another program. These program offer a couple of different degrees to their graduates upon completion, ranging from masters to a bachelors as well as an associate’s degree. The options for degrees can include; master’s degrees in health science, medical science and physician assistant studies.
- You then need to obtain authorization by your state to practice through your particularly states licensure which is the last step one needs to fulfill to complete the list of physician assistant requirements.
When a student adheres to all the above admission prerequisites, they are able to use the term PA-C after the end of their name which is stating that they are a certified PA or Physician Assistant – Certified.
Requirements For Staying Certified As A Physician Assistant
In order to remain active as a physician assistant, you must adhere to two rules that all PA’s must follow which are;
- Every 2 years physician assistants are required to complete a 100 hours or more of continuing medical education.
- Every 6 years the NCCPA requirements that you; take and pass a recertification exam called the Physician Assistant National Recertification Exam (PANRE), or what they call an alternative program that consists of a take-home course combined with learning experiences.
OUTLOOK ON JOBS FOR PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS
For those looking for fulfill the physician assistant prerequisites to enable them to start their career as a PA, there are certain statistics that show that the job outlook is very good, higher than that of most all other professions. These statistics show that:
- Between 2008 and 2018, the job market for physician assistant employment is expected to make the giant leap of 39 percent. This prediction is made on two factors; employment growth as well as the number of retiring physician assistants that will occur during that time-frame.
Taking the above into consideration, those who are looking to become PA are looking to do it at a better time than ever, and put themselves on the fast track to a great career by completing what you need to start a career now.
Personal Requirements Of Aspiring Physician Assistants
Now that you know the general physician assistant requirements, there are a few personal qualities that all successful PA’s have and continue to get better at. Examples of these are:
- Possessing great leadership skills as you physician assistance are near the top of the staff chain and are looked up to as well as a resource for questions by other staff.
- Another one of the most favored attributes which happens to be one of the most importantly consist of having the passion and drive to keep studying and keeping up to date on the ever-evolving medical field, enabling them to better their craft to the best of their ability.
- The willingness to keep studying and staying on top of the evolving PA career in order to provide the highest level of skills needed in their healthcare workplace.
- The ability to be emotionally stable while you are working each day, which is one of the main PA requirements when it comes to personal traits. This is one of the most important as workers need to be completely focused on the patient.
- Computer skills are another must that one should hone in on, as records are stored in the computer and need to be accessed every day.
- The ability to react in times of emergency.
- The ability to work 40 hours as week, as well as be on your feet for most of the time during your shifts.
- Lastly, the most important out of all of the physician assistant requirements is that one must have a deep desire to help people who are in dire need of your help.