8 Steps to Becoming a Physician Assistant

Though it is not nearly as extensive as becoming a doctor, pursuing a career as a physician assistant still requires a lot of training and education. If you are looking into this field of work, make sure that you have done ample research on the various steps you need to take in order to make this career happen.

1. Finish Your Undergraduate Prerequisite Courses

It is not required for aspiring physician assistants to have a specific major for their undergraduate coursework, however, there are some prerequisites that various PA programs look for. Generally speaking, these prerequisites include microbiology, biology, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry.

2. Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

If you want to make sure that you get all of your prerequisites done, there are some majors that are more suited towards making this happen. For instance, appropriate undergraduate majors can include; health sciences, public health, behavioral science, biology, molecular biology, biochemical studies, or other natural sciences.

3. Research Until There’s Nothing Left

As always, make sure you do your research before you fully commit to a program. If you want to get a sense of what this field looks like, talk to the alumni from your school and have a conversation with those involved in the profession.

4. Obtain Medical Experience

To be admitted into the program, most physician assistant programs will require you to have some sort of medical and health experience. This experience can be obtained through volunteering at a hospital, doing research with medical scientists, or interning with a physician.

5. Attend Physician Assistant Training Programs

With most programs lasting roughly three years, or 26 months, aspiring PA’s receive more than 2,000 hours of clinical training and course studies. The coursework for a PA student can include: physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, medical ethics, pathophysiology, and clinical laboratory science.

6. Get Certified

After having completed the PA program, one needs to take and pass the Physical Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). To remain a certified physician assistant, you have to renew your certification over the course of your career.

7. Apply for a State Licensure

Before you can practice medicine, you have to apply for a state licensure after you pass all of the certification exams. Since most states have different licensing requirements, it is important to know the guidelines of the state in which you live.

8. Maintain Your Certification

Mentioned previously, physician assistants have to renew their certifications throughout the course of their career. In order to maintain certification, it is required for a PA to complete 100 or more hours of training every two years. In addition, physician assistant’s have to pass a recertification exam every 10 years.

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