How to become a Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Requirements: How to Become a Physician Assistant

The growing demands for health care services have put physicians in increasingly short supply. To bridge this gap, many hospitals and clinics have created physician assistant requirements to fill healthcare positions due to such a widening lack of care. A physician’s assistant, otherwise known as a “PA,” plays a vital role in meeting the needs of many patients who lack primary care. Physician assistants practice medicine and treat patients while working with and being supervised by a licensed medical doctor. While physician assistant requirements can still be a hurdle for many people seeking entry into this profession, the availability of jobs, flexibility, stability, and pay can help some overcome the more stringent time and financial requirements needed to become a physician’s assistant.

What are Physician Assistant Requirements & What Do They Do?

A physician assistant works under the direct supervision of a physician and provides primary care within a variety of areas from family medicine, pediatrics, and internal medicine, emergency medicine or geriatrics. A physician’s assistant can be employed within a variety of work settings that can range from rural hospitals or clinics to urban practices or other healthcare facilities. While a physician’s assistant might be the only healthcare practitioner on staff at some rural hospitals and clinics, they are still required to report all of their work to the supervising physician for whom they work.

A physician’s assistant does not have full autonomy to practice medicine on their own, and can not supersede the directions and advice from the doctors that they work for. However, a physician’s assistant does have full authority over their nursing staff and many states have regulations that determine what functions PAs may perform and the degree of physician supervision required. For example, in recent years, many states have relaxed restrictions on physician assistant practice and almost all physicians assistants can write prescriptions in their state. Some of the more typical (but not all) duties required of a physician’s assistant are:

  • Diagnose injuries and illnesses
  • Perform physical examinations
  • Conduct rounds on patients and report on progress
  • Formulate patient care
  • Prescribe medication and therapy for healing
  • Assist physicians during surgery or medical procedures

Interested? How to Become a Physician Assistant: Key Factors

  • Obtain physicians assistant program prerequisites and experience
  • Attend an accredited physician assistant program
  • Become a certified physician’s assistant
How to Become a Physician’s Assistant: Obtain Physician Assistant Requirements

If you are researching physician assistant requirements, the first thing to know is you need to earn a bachelor’s degree. While no particular degree is required to obtain this job, a physician’s assistant needs to be knowledgeable in a variety of biology and science courses. The following physician assistant requirements include classes in Chemistry, Physiology, Anatomy, Microbiology, and Biology. Many physicians assistant programs also require prior healthcare experience with hands-on patient care. Additional Physician assistant requirements can include experience working as a medical assistant, an emergency medical technician, a medic, a registered nurse or a paramedic, to name a few.  The physician assistant requirements can become quite competitive. The more well-rounded your experience and education are in a variety of subject areas will boost your chances of securing a spot in a highly competitive physicians assistant program.

Becoming a physician’s assistant can offer much personal satisfaction, great work-life balance, and career growth.

How to Become a Physician’s Assistant: Attend an Accredited Program

After all prerequisites and experience are met, you must apply and be accepted into an accredited physician assistant program. These programs require less work than a typical physician who graduates with a Doctorate, but upon graduating the physicians assistant will be awarded a Master’s Degree in Science. Simple, overnight schooling is not how to become a physician assistant! The physician assistant program usually requires two or even three years of education, combining both classroom and clinical experience. The classroom portion of the physician assistant education creates the foundation that prepares the student for the clinical part of the program. Students use their classroom education and translate it into action as they begin to fulfill the minimum requirements for clinical rotations in a hospital setting. The physician assistant requirements for clinical hours vary between schools, but they are usually above 1,500 hours.

How to Become a Physician’s Assistant: Become Certified

Once you fulfill the requirements from your accredited program, you are in the final stages of how to become a physician assistant and are now are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). This is an exam that is proctored by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The PANCE examination is a five-hour test that consists of 300 multiple choice questions, and it can be retaken if a passing score is not earned.

What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Physicians Assistant?

Becoming a physician’s assistant can offer much personal satisfaction, great work-life balance, and career growth. As a physician assistant, you can practice in a variety of healthcare areas without having to obtain additional training or specialization like a physician. Also, the physician assistant’s role to reach under-served populations such as those in urban centers and rural area has grown, providing an explosion of vacant jobs in a variety of settings. If you are interested in how to become a physician assistant, don’t hesitate to join this career field. It can offer you many opportunities for career growth in any location you desire!


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