A Physician assistant’s job is rewarding, fulfilling and recession-proof. The profession requires hard work, dedication, and high levels of motivation. The course is long and demands 100% focus. Most schools limit the number of seats and set up very strict selection rules. Here’s what it takes to become a PA:
Prerequisites for Physician Assistant – Schooling
- You need a high school education or great scores in General Education Development (GED).
- Some schools require applicants to complete 2 years of college or minimum 60 credits. However, all accredited physician assistant programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s (science) degree and all the top schools need a college degree.
- Students who have opted for science subjects (biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, mathematics), psychology, English and social science, stand a better chance than others.
- All schools prefer students who have obtained rich experience in a medical facility. Such experience can be up to 1 year – the higher the better.
- Students who have taken drugs in the past will most likely be rejected.
- Every PA school routinely conducts background verification on all its applicants.
- The school will check your GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores. It will also check to see how recently you have taken the GRE exams – if more than 5 years have passed since you took your GRE exams, your application may be rejected.
- You will have to apply using CASPA’s (Central Application Services for Physician Assistants) online application service.
- You must submit letters of reference as required, and at least one reference must be from a practicing physician.
- You will also need a BLS certification. BLS, (Basic Life Support) is a short course that prepares students in reviving a patient and helping him withstand a medical condition like cardiac arrest, respiration problems, etc.
- Your thinking, communication, logic, social and motor skills will be tested.
Prerequisites for Physician Assistant – Certification
You need to pass the exam conducted by the (National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants) (NCCPA) to get your certificate. The exam is rather lengthy – it goes on for 6 hours and the student has to answer 360 questions. 1 minute per question is allotted to students to answer the questions.
To become eligible for the exam, you must prove that you have completed an accredited PA program successfully. A PA program lasts for 2-3 years and includes classroom and in-clinic training.
Prerequisites for Physician Assistant – Practice
Once you obtain your PA certification, the next step is to get a license from the state you intend to practice in. Every state has different licensing rules and therefore you must check rules that apply to you.
Prerequisites for Physician Assistant – Staying Certified
You need continuing education to keep your certification current and active. All PAs are required to complete 100 hours of education every 2 years. In addition, all PAs must take a recertification exam (PANRE, or Physician Assistant National Recertification Exam) every 6 years to keep their certification alive. PANRE is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
These are the different prerequisites of a physician assistant that he must fulfill at different stages of his career.