• title-becoming_a_pa
  • Prerequisites to PA Education

    PA program applicants must complete two years of college courses in basic and behavioral sciences as prerequisites. Most students have a bachelor’s degree and about three years of health care experience before entering a PA program.

    Accredited PA Programs

    Accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), PA programs are approximately 27 months long and include classroom instruction and clinical rotations. Visit ARC-PA or the Physician Assistant Education Association to learn about accredited PA programs.

    National Certification

    Only graduates of accredited PA programs may take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. PA graduates who pass the PANCE use the title Physician Assistant-Certified or PA-C.

    Maintaining Certification

    To maintain national certification, PAs must complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every 2 years and take a recertification exam every 6 to 10 years.

    State Licensure

    In order to practice, PAs must obtain a state license. All states require that PAs graduate from an accredited PA program and pass the PANCE.

    Practice Settings

    • Private practices and clinics
    • Hospitals
    • HMOs 
    • The armed forces and other federal government agencies

    PA Practice

    PAs deliver a range of medical and surgical services, including

    • Taking medical histories and performing physical exams
    • Ordering laboratory tests
    • Diagnosing and treating illnesses
    • Counseling patients and promoting wellness 
    • Assisting in surgery
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