Do you have an interest in working as a part of a health care team? Does working with patients, and diagnosing and treating diseases alongside medical doctors appeal to you? Then maybe a career as a physician assistant or P.A. is for you. As the demand for health care professionals increases, the demand for physician assistants is expected to rise also. If you have an undergraduate degree and experience in the field of health care, you can apply to train to be a physician assistant.
Complete an undergraduate degree. For many physician assistant programs, a bachelor's degree is a requirement. Some schools require you to be a registered nurse in order to qualify. You may also be required to be fully registered and licensed in applicable areas. For example, if you are a dietitian you need to be a Licensed Registered Dietitian to apply. In addition, some schools prefer or require experience in the health care field. Seek the guidance of your preferred school for detailed information.
Apply to the P.A. program of your desired university. Make sure that the program is fully accredited. Accredited programs are legitimately recognized. It is highly advisable that you visit with faculty from the university before you apply. They will be able to tell you how the selection process works and if you've met the minimum requirements.
Complete the requirements of the physician assistant professional program and graduate. This will be a very intensive program that will require much time and effort. The standards are high because you will eventually function independently in various health care settings. You will have to complete a set number of hours under the supervision of a professional physician assistant in order to graduate. Most P.A. programs take two years of full-time study to complete.
Take the national exam to become certified. This will allow you the designation of PA-C. This is conducted by National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
Complete required continuing education in order to maintain your certification status. A Physician Assistant must record 100 hours of continuing education every two years and take the re-certification exam every six years.
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- Do your best in undergraduate courses. Admission to P.A. programs is highly competitive, so good grades help.
- This field requires strength in the sciences, anatomy, and medicine. If these are not your preferred areas of study, this position may not be for you.
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