How to Become a PA and How to Get into a PA Program

April 12, 2021

Physician Assistants are medical support professionals whose job is to aid in patients’ primary care. They do so by providing medical aid just like a physician would do, often under the guidance of a physician. As mid-level medical providers, they form an essential part of hospitals and clinics’ primary healthcare teams. 


Becoming a PA is an excellent alternative to becoming a doctor. A PA only needs seven years of education when compared to the fourteen that a doctor needs. PAs are one of the most rapidly growing positions required in the future.


Being a PA offers you an excellent salary, regular working hours, and a chance to change other people’s lives for the better. 


What Do You Need to Become a PA


The first thing you need to be a PA is a degree. Specifically, you need a master’s degree in PA studies from an accredited institution or training program. You will receive accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistants or ARC-PA.


Typically, the degree lasts for three years of education. Your first two years of training will be focused on coursework. The final year of teaching is more focused on hands-on experience. Many PAs work as EMTs, paramedics, and medical assistants to gather the necessary expertise. 


After receiving your master’s degree in PA studies, you then need to get certified. Without certification, you won’t be allowed to practice as a PA in any of the 50 states. Other countries have similar restrictions. 


You can become certified by sitting the (PANCE)Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. This exam is conducted by the(NCCPA) National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants. After passing the certification, you have to retake the exam every ten years. You’ll also need to finish hundreds of hours of education every two years. 


After passing the PANCE, you then need to obtain a state license. You can do so by applying to the state board. The NCCPA maintains the updated list of all state boards on its website. 


Once you get into PA school, you learn subjects like pathology, biology, anatomy, chemistry, diagnostic skills, medical law, medical ethics. 


How to Get intoa PA Program 


As the PA program is a master’s degree program, there are specific prerequisites that you need to fulfill to get selected. First and foremost, you need to have a bachelor’s degree, which had basic sciences as part of your coursework. The required subjects by PA programs are chemistry, anatomy, biology, and physiology.


Some PA schools and programs also require you to have at least two years of previous patient care. You can get this by first getting a bachelor’s degree in medical science fields and then working as a low-tier medical provider. 


Less than half the schools do admit students without prior patient care experience. Regardless, competition is pretty tough. Students with a great GPA, a bachelor’s in medical sciences, and at least three years of patient care are given preference during admission. 




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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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