PAs Working Abroad Frequently Asked Questions

The dynamics of the healthcare system and increasing demand for PAs require that AAPA sharpen its focus on PA practice in the U.S. Therefore, AAPA’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan does not include any efforts or services associated with international PA practice. However, AAPA recognizes that some PAs have an interest in practicing abroad and has compiled this list of the most common questions posed to its staff about international practice.

Why does AAPA no longer have an active international presence?

AAPA is choosing to commit its resources to PA practice in the U.S. Its current strategic plan calls for it to focus on domestic health policy and workforce issues. The Academy has increased its commitment to improving the ability of PAs to practice domestically and promoting PA practice in the U.S.

How can I get more information on international practice?

Several AAPA constituent organizations have contacts for international practice. PAs for Global Health and the Fellowship of Christian PAs, among others, have members with extensive experience in international PA work. Many of their members have worked or volunteered overseas and can offer a better perspective on what’s required. Other agencies to contact include the Canadian Association of PAs, the United Kingdom Association of PAs, the Netherlands Association of PAs and the Indian Association of PAs.

Can a PA work internationally?

A handful of countries have adopted versions of the PA profession. Among them are Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ghana and South Africa.

Countries occasionally sponsor demonstration projects to test the PA concept. AAPA recommends that PAs check with government agencies responsible for the health workforce in their country of interest to ask if any demonstration projects are planned.

PAs can also check with the U.S. Department of State and private corporations that do business internationally, as both sometimes hire PAs to care for American workers overseas.

Which credentials will I need to apply for an international position?

There are no set standards, and necessary documents may vary by country. As a general rule, you will need to prove that you are a PA in good standing when you apply for a post outside of the U.S. PAs who were part of the various demonstration projects needed to show graduation from an ARC-PA-accredited program, an active NCCPA certification and U.S. work authorization.

How can I obtain an international license to practice?

No international license exists for PAs. Your U.S. state license is only valid in the issuing state. Check with the U.S. Department of State and the appropriate government body in the country you hope to practice in to learn the scope of your international practice. If you aim to practice in a country where the PA profession is established, check with the appropriate professional association. For example, if you wish to practice in the United Kingdom, contact the United Kingdom Association of PAs.

Whom can I speak with/network with on international practice?

AAPA recommends you contact PAs for Global Health, the Fellowship for Christian PAs or any PAs who have worked internationally. If you’re interested in Canada, England, Scotland or the Netherlands, you may also want to contact the professional associations for PAs in those countries. In addition, international jobs are posted in JAAPA, PA Professional and the PA Job Link. In the past, some employers had a booth at the AAPA annual conference for recruiting.

Can I attend a PA program in another country and practice in the U.S.?

No. PAs who practice in the U.S. must graduate from an ARC-PA-accredited program, obtain NCCPA certification through successful passage of the PA National Certification Exam (PANCE) and obtain state licensure. In 2004, the House of Delegates adopted the policy HP-3700.3.2, Licensure Eligibility for PAs Trained Abroad.

For information on PA programs in the U.S. contact the PA Education Association.

Does AAPA have any policies addressing PAs interested in working internationally?

Yes, in 2001, the House of Delegates adopted the policy HP-3700.3.1, Guidelines for PAs Working Internationally.

Will AAPA still host an international symposium?

AAPA will no longer host an international symposium due to a lack of both interest and necessity. In the past, the symposiums were held primarily so international delegations could learn more about the profession and meet and network with PAs. Once the concept was established in a few countries, the symposium became a showcase for best practices that allowed the countries to share experiences and learn from one another. Over the past few years, fewer delegations have asked to participate in symposiums, and AAPA has received no recent inquiries from other countries about the PA model.

Can international PAs attend AAPA conferences?

Yes. PAs who practice in other countries can register for conference at the rate offered to AAPA members.