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Physician Assistant Requirements – A Detailed Description

If you are interested in Physician Assistant requirements, it is likely that you have an interest in practicing medicine directly under the supervision of advanced level medical professionals such as physicians and surgeons. A Physician Assistant or “PA” is a medical professional that receives a formal education in numerous aspects of the medical field. This training allows the individual acting as a Physician Assistant to perform a wide assortment of important tasks as delegated by a Physician. Examples of these jobs include obtaining the medical history associated with each patient, examining patients, ordering special medical tests and performing other healthcare tasks as outlined by the facility that the professional is employed by on a regular basis. Throughout this guide, you will learn about the Physician Assistant requirements that are needed to qualify for this position.


If you want to become a Physician Assistant, it is important that you understand that the educational training program that you will take part in will take a minimum of two years to fully complete. This time estimate reflects the time frame for an individual that attends classes on a full time basis. Part time students could complete the coursework anywhere between three and five years – depending on how many classes that they take at a time. The educational facilities that include the coursework for this career include academic based health centers, community colleges, four year universities and other types of institutions that offer the classes that will train an individual to work under the direct supervision of a licensed physician.

Many individuals that are interested in learning the Physician Assistant requirements have already pursued some degree of college coursework. There are many that also have some work experience in the medical field. If you are interested in becoming a formal Physician’s Assistant, it is imperative that you carefully evaluate the requirements of the program that you are interested in pursuing. If you do not have the requirements for this type of training program, you must obtain them prior to moving forward in your education. Once you do qualify for an educational program that will assist you in becoming a physician Assistant, you will be required to complete the following:

  • Students specializing in the medical field will need to complete both classroom instructed classes and laboratory instruction that focuses on topics that directly pertain to the health. Examples of these courses include biochemistry, anatomy and physiology as well as pathology.
  • Physician Assistants play a large role in determining which types of medications that patients should take for their condition and also prescribe these medications. For this reason, Physician Assistant requirements include coursework in clinical pharmacology, emergency medicine and clinical medications.
  • Medical professionals are required to be highly ethical. Therefore, students that desire to become a Physician Assistant will be required to take courses in medical ethics and general patient care.
  • Direct clinical experience is highly imperative for those that are looking to ensure that they meet the Physician Assistant requirements. Most students will receive a large portion of their training under the supervision of a licensed medical doctor in certain types of medical settings such as a clinic, a hospital or similar facility.
  • In order to become a licensed Physician Assistant, students must obtain a certification in the most basic of life support measures. This is referred to as a “BLS” or “Basic Life Support” certification.

Basic Physician Assistant Requirements

Now that you have been introduced to the educational requirements associated with becoming a Physician’s Assistant, it is time that you learn some basic requirements. Those seeking to work within the United States must be citizens of the nation. If you are not a citizen, but are considered to be a non-resident on a full time basis, you may obtain employment within this field. In addition to this, a minimum of a High School Diploma must be obtained prior to starting post-secondary educational requirements. You will also be asked to participate in a drug screening and a complete background check. In addition to these requirements, you will need to engage in the following:

  1. Due to the fact that you will be working in direct contact with the public, it is important to ensure that all of your health immunizations are up to date.
  2. There are several different technical based skills that are required in order to successfully perform the tasks that will be performed throughout the course of your career. Examples of these skills include the ability to communicate in the written word and the spoken word, optimal gross and fine motor skills, the ability to reason and think on a critical level and solve problems quickly.
  3. Physician Assistant requirements include taking and submitting the scores of the test referred to as “GRE” or “Graduation Record Examination”.
  4. If you have an interest in applying for a position under a physician, you will need to obtain at least one professional reference letter that details your education, character, work ethics and any related points that will help the physician determine if you are an appropriate candidate for the position.
  5. Once you have met all of the Physician Assistant requirements, you will need to submit an application to the “CASPA” or the “Central Application Services for Physician Assistants”.


The Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam

Once you have completed all previous Physician Assistant requirements, you will need to pass a test that is issued by the “NCCPA” or “National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants”. This test is called the “Physician’s Assistant National Certifying Exam” or “PANCE”. This test is set to last approximately six hours. There are a total of three hundred sixty questions involved. These questions are broken down into six unique sections that include a total of sixty questions. This means that the individual that takes the examination should complete each question in approximately one minute’s time. Once the examination has been passed, you must ensure that you retain your certification. This means you will need to complete a minimum of one hundred hours in training every two years. In addition to this, you will need to take a recertification exam called the “Physician Assistant National Recertification Exam” or “PANRE”. By following the Physician Assistant requirements outlined in this guide, you will be able to successfully obtain and retain employment directly under the supervision of a doctor in the medical field.