What Are the Education Requirements to Be a Physician Assistant?
Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed healthcare professionals who practice medicine under the supervision of doctors. They're qualified to examine patients, make diagnoses and compile medical histories. They also analyze x-rays and other test results as well as perform procedures like suturing wounds and setting broken bones. Keep reading to learn about how you can become a physician assistant. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Physician Assistant Education Requirements
Physician assistants usually enter the profession after they've gained experience in a healthcare field, such as nursing or emergency medical care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many already have degrees, though all PAs are required complete an accredited education program specifically geared toward physician assistants (www.bls.gov). Such programs may culminate in certificates, associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees; however, most are available at the master's-degree level.
Master's Degree Program
Admission to a master's program entails completion of a bachelor's degree program. While you generally don't have to earn a degree in a specific major, you may need to fulfill prerequisites in chemistry, biology, anatomy, psychology, physiology and other health-science subjects. Most programs also require you to have work experience in the healthcare field.
The master's degree program for physician assistants usually lasts two years and includes a number of classroom and clinical studies. First-year curriculum typically consists of courses in anatomy, physiology and pharmacology. Clinical coursework introduces you to patient evaluation, professional ethics and clinical medicine.
Second-year courses may include psychiatry, surgery and advanced clinical techniques. The final year often concludes with a number of clinical rotations. These rotations give you the opportunity to work with professionals in a number of different specialties, such as pediatrics, family and community medicine, emergency care and obstetrics.
After graduating from an accredited PA program, you must become certified to practice in the profession. The BLS reports that licensure candidates must apply for and pass an examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. After passing your certification exam, you may use the Physician Assistant-Certified designation. You must recertify every six years by passing an exam or completing an approved recertification program as well as completing continuing education regularly.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: