While it’s a widely known fact that becoming a physician can take many years of education and residency training, however, one career that most people overlook is that of a physician’s assistant.
If you were busy studying biology in school, or have a genuine interest in finding a job as a physician’s assistant, this could be a lucrative career for you. Though you don’t have the extensive training that a primary physician has, you’ll be able to work alongside doctors, diagnose patients, prescribe medications, and recommend care.
If becoming a physician’s assistant is a career path you’d like to explore, the following will provide you with the steps that you’ll need to take to make this dream become a reality.
Many people are thrown off by the title of “Physician’s Assistant.” This is simply because the word “assistant” implies that one might not need the length of schooling that a physician normally has to complete.
The fact is that a physician’s assistant has an entry-level educational requirement of a Master’s Degree. This means that your career path not only has to include a Bachelor’s Degree in biology or a science-related field, you’ll also need to complete a 2-3 year Master’s Degree program in a related field as well.
In addition, most Master’s programs for a physician’s assistant require at least a year of hands-on training in the medical field. In order to achieve this, many applicants choose to work in an entry-level medical profession such as an EMT, paramedic, or complete a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, and work as a nurse in a specific discipline.
It’s also good to note that you can also gain significant medical field training in volunteer positions as well. Some undergraduate degrees that you’ll want to consider when mapping out your career path towards becoming a physician’s assistant include:
- Nursing Science
Physician’s Assistant Programs
No matter what school you attend, you’ll have to take an accredited Physician’s Assistant educational program. This program at the Master’s level must be accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, (ARC-PA).
These programs are available in a traditional classroom setting as well as online and will generally take between two and three years to complete in most cases. During this part of your education, you’ll learn much more in-depth information and be given both medical and clinical training.
Studies in a Physician’s Assistant program go into broader detail about many sectors of the healthcare industry. Much of this will include the following:
- Emergency Medicine
- Diagnosis Procedures
- Health Industry Protocols
While education is critical to becoming a Physician’s Assistant, the combination of on-the-job experience that you’ll learn while working in the industry will be a great asset in completing your educational requirements.
Every state across the country has its own requirements for obtaining a license as a Physician’s Assistant. When considering your educational path, look closely at what your state requires in order to work as a Physician’s Assistant so that you can modify your plan as needed.
Prior to getting your license, you’ll have to take an exam. This is referred to as the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, otherwise known as the PANCE Exam.
The exam is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, (NCCPA). After you pass the exam and pay your fees, you’ll be given the designation of Physician Assistant-Certified or PA-C. It’s also good to note that you can only take the exam within 6 years after your graduation date.
A career in healthcare is not only financially rewarding, but individuals who work in these fields are respectable members of the community.
You’re providing a vital service, and with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all the more reason to hold our healthcare providers to the honorable standard that they all deserve.