Physician Assistant Education Requirements

This article provides an overview on the basic requirements to become a physician assistant and also the key skills necessary to excel in this career.

Updated by Rakshitha.N on 15th September 2020

Often the roles of doctors and nurses are emphasized in the healthcare industry whereas there are severe occupations that are nor focused by play a vital role in saving people’s lives. Among them, a physician assistant works in the medical industry to assist the physicians to treat patients, plan the treatment, and look after the medications prescribed. 

Becoming a physician assistant requires years of practice and specific requirements to meet while this profession is rewarding and a high paying job. To plan your career wisely, you must understand what it takes to become a physician assistant and this article aims at providing the same. 

Physician Assistant Education Requirements

The minimum requirements for a physician assistant is to earn a master’s degree accredited by the regional body or Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) following a bachelor's degree. With a series of education requirements to meet, you could also choose to earn experience for a certain period as an alternative to an undergraduate degree. As a career requirement, you'll require to attend a PA program extensively for physician assistant and gain sufficient experience. To elaborate on the requirements further, 

Medical Degree

Aspiring students are required to complete a bachelor’s degree for 4 years in any field to be eligible to enter the PA degree program. It is preferred to take up healthcare or medicine related majors to get a better understanding of what to expect in further studies. The common coursework in the degree program includes Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Nutrition, and general courses. Employers prefer graduates from an accredited program which is usually accredited by a regional body or standard organization to meet the education standards.

Physician Assistant Program

A PA program is specially designed for aspiring students who choose this profession where it primarily concentrates on the medical science and clinical techniques to practice medicines. The courses include health, medication, anatomy, pharmacology, and pathology. 

After learning the basic concepts you also learn in-depth on surgery, gynecology, and behavioral medicine. This program is necessary to be eligible for certification. 

NCCPA Certification

Becoming a certified Physician Assistant gives you an upper hand than just getting educated. After completing the PA program, you can apply for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and clear the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). The certification helps you demonstrate skills in areas such as,

  • Examining and performing medical conditions
  • Lab techniques and diagnostic studies
  • Maintaining health
  • Pharmacology
  • Basic science concepts
  • Clinical intervention

License Requirements

Know the license requirements which usually vary from one state to another and to work and practice medicine legally. You require to gain the necessary education, experience in a clinical setting under experienced professionals, and clear a Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.

The exam includes objective as well descriptive type questions to evaluate your knowledge over the range for topics you acquired knowledge. 

After obtaining the license, you must maintain it by completing several specified hours of experience once in two years 

Skills Required

  • Good communication skills
  • Compassionate
  • Empathetic
  • Technically sound
  • Handle stress
  • Physical stamina
  • Attention to detail