Pre-Physician Assistant

Physician assistants (PA) work under the supervision of a physician or surgeon; however, their specific duties and the extent to which they must be supervised differ from state to state.

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Profession overview

Physician assistants typically do the following:

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Is physician assistant a possible career for you?

Do you have the following qualities? If so, PA may be a good fit.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Professional education

Degree offered

Baccalaureate (B.S./B.A.) degree is required for Masters programs. Typically a Master’s degree is required from a program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA)

Years of Study

At least 2 years of full-time study for PA Masters programs

Licensure Required

All states and the District of Columbia require physician assistants to be licensed. To become licensed, they must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). A physician assistant who passes the exam may use the credential “Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C).”

To keep their certification, physician assistants must complete 100 hours of continuing education every 2 years. Beginning in 2014, the recertification exam will be required every 10 years.

Choosing a physician assistant program

Factors to consider when choosing a PA program: