When you think about a career in the medical field, like most people, you probably think about the job of a medical doctor or registered nurse.
But there are hundreds of other career paths that you can take within the healthcare industry that do not require spending 8 to 10 years in medical school.
If you are looking for a reliable career with a promising job outlook that you won’t have to dedicate so much time to training, you should consider a job as a PA or Physician Assistant.
How To Become A PA: First Learn More About The Role Of A Physician Assistant
A PA, also known as a Physician Assistant or Medical Assistant, is an individual who can diagnose illnesses, come up with effective treatment plans and prescribe medication to patients. They can serve as a patient’s health care provider under the supervision of a medical doctor.
PAs go through many hours of medical training. They can provide patients with a high level of medical care and treatment thanks to the knowledge and training they have received over the years.
Physician assistants practice in every type of medical setting and specialty. They have helped improve access to quality healthcare by allowing patients to be seen even when a medical doctor is fully booked.
The role of a physician assistant is diverse and can vary greatly. They may meet with patients one day and then collaborate with other members of their medical team on the next. They may be heavily involved in a patient’s treatment plan, or step back to allow the medical doctor to have more involvement. They can also directly administer medication and prescribe medicine as needed.
PAs have a broad range of skills and keep many medical facilities moving on a strong and steady path. They receive a very reasonable salary and have the benefit of excellent job security. They have the opportunity to work with patients of all ages and from every walk of life.
If you think that you have what it takes to become a PA, keep reading to find out more about how to become a PA.
Step 1: Earn Your Four-Year Science Or Medical Degree
The majority of all PAs will have completed a four-year Bachelor’s degree program in related science before they start a PA degree program. Usually, physician assistants may have a four-year undergrad degree in any field, but it would be best to choose a field that is related to either science or medicine.
The most common undergraduate degrees that PAs have include:
One thing you should be sure of is that your bachelor’s degree is accredited regionally so that your application to graduate school will be a simple and easy process.
Step 2: Enroll In A Physician Assistant Program
Most Physician Assistant programs will take between two and three years to complete. During this time, you will learn more detailed information on health, medication, anatomy and how the health care industry works.
Students get to take part in medical science and hands-on clinical work with courses that cover various techniques, emergency medication, pharmacology and pathology. These are just a handful of the topics that future PAs learn about during their first year of training.
During the second year of training, students start to focus on more detailed topics based on the field they plan on going into. They will learn about topics such as general surgery, gynecology, or behavioral medicine.
Once all PA training programs are completed, the student should be prepared to pass their licensing exam and then become a qualified physician assistant.
Should You Consider An Online Physician Assistant Program?
One easy and convenient way to earn your bachelor’s degree is to enroll in an online physician assistant program. There are many highly accredited online programs that can help you prepare to be a PA. And the best part is that you can learn on your own schedule and continue to work while taking part in a rewarding PA program.
The cost of admission for an online PA degree program will vary depending on the type of program you plan to enroll in. You can expect most of them to require you to have at least a 2.75 G.P.A., if not a 3.0.
Additional admission requirements (many of which are also required for an on-campus degree program) will include:
This can include courses such as General Chemistry I with lab, Organic Chemistry, Microbiology General Biology with lab, Developmental Psychology and Anthropology.
Patient Care Experience
This is experience gained while you work or volunteer as a CNA, an EMT, a CMA a medical technician or inside a hospice center.
Other course requirements include:
Step 3: Become A Licensed Physician Assistant
After you have completed your degree program, you will still need to pass an exam to become a licensed PA. Every state has its own licensing system, so the specific terms could vary from one state to another. But you will need to complete this step no matter what state you live in before you can work as a physician assistant.
All PA candidates must complete the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam also known as PANCE. This exam is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Once you pass this exam, you are then legally allowed to use the designation of Physician Assistant-Certified or PA-C.
To be eligible to take the exam, you will need to graduate from an accredited school. The exam will take 5 hours to complete, and there are 300 multiple choice questions which are given in five blocks of 60 questions each. There will also be a total of 45 minutes for break time given in smaller allotments.
You may take the exam within 6 years after you have graduated and earned your degree. During this time, you have the opportunity to take the exam up to six times in order to pass if needed. If you take the text the maximum amount of times and fail, you will be ineligible to take it again. Therefore, it is important that you study hard and focus while you are studying so that you learn as much as possible and pass the test.
Where To Sign Up For Excellent Online PA Programs
There are several online programs that allow you to train to be a quality physician assistant. Here are three that you should consider.
The University Of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky is home to some of the finest medical degree programs around the country. They have a comprehensive online master’s degree program that is perfect for PAs. Throughout the course of the program, students will take courses such as Clinical Methods, Geriatric Medicine, and Integrative Care. They will also be required to complete two Master’s Projects. UK is an ARC-PA accredited school and the PANCE pass rate for the graduating class in 2015 was 96%.
A.T. Still University
A.T. Still University was the first osteopathic medical school. This private institution offers a broad range of degrees online such as an Advanced Master of Science Physicians’ Assistant program that is ARC-PA accredited. This program takes just 26 months to complete. To apply you must have three letters of recommendation. These can be from health care practitioners, employers, and faculty members. The NCCPA pass rate for graduates of the 2016 PA program for A.T. Still University was 92%.
Drexel University’s program is a post-professional degree program for PAs. This is for those who have already taken an ARC-PA accredited program. It is included here because Drexel University is one of the top online and on-campus schools for medical training and degrees. The program is ideal for practicing PAs who want to improve their skills and make their way up the ladder. Their master’s program requires you to have a 3.0 GPA and two letters of recommendation.
Are You Considering Becoming A PA?
If you are wondering How to Become a PA and would like to learn more about this career choice, you should check out the statistics for Physician Assistants on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. There you can find out more about the daily tasks of a PA, more about the education requirements, and what type of salary you can expect to make once you become a licensed PA.