How To Become a Physician Assistant in 5 Steps
Similar to most clinical careers, the road to becoming a physician assistant (PA) is a fairly direct one. However, there are a handful of opportunities to personalize your experience and find the right specialty along the way. If you’re seriously thinking about becoming a PA, here are five steps to follow.
Get Your Undergraduate Degree
Earning a bachelor’s degree is the first major step in the journey to becoming a PA. Not all programs require health- or science-related bachelor’s degrees — but obtaining one could certainly improve your chances of being accepted into more graduate programs. Furthermore, gearing your undergraduate degree toward a field such as nursing or chemistry could help you satisfy prerequisites required for PA program admission, including courses like:
Anatomy and physiology
Earn Professional Experience
Not all PA programs require applicants to have a set amount of experience. However, having some to add on your resume will certainly make you stand out. On the other hand, some programs require you to gain upwards of 1,000 medical exposure hours, which can usually be satisfied through a paying job or volunteer work. During this time, you’ll gain hands-on experience and a better understanding of which specialty you might want to pursue in your graduate studies.
Apply for Your Master’s Degree
After you’ve accumulated enough medical exposure hours, you’ll be ready to take the next step: completing a PA graduate program. Including all coursework and clinical rotations, these programs typically take candidates three years to finish. Here are a few things you’ll need to do in preparation for the application process:
Take the GRE.
Retrieve your undergraduate transcripts.
Ask for letters of recommendation.
Write your personal statement.
Once you’ve narrowed down your top programs and applied, you may be required to interview for admission. While every school has a different process for evaluating candidates, it’s wise to prepare yourself by researching each program and asking friends and family to help with mock interviews.
Take and Pass the PANCE
After studying your way through a PA program, you’ll need to study for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). Broken down into five sections, this exam awards those who pass with the title of Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C). After passing the PANCE, you must obtain state licensure before you can officially start your career as a PA.
Work With a Healthcare Recruiter
While it’s not required that you use a healthcare recruiter to help find PA career opportunities, this added step will take your job search to the next level. At HealthCare Support, our team of recruiters will not only match you with relevant PA postings, but they’ll also help you prepare with resume workshops and interview practice. To speak with one of our healthcare recruiters, contact HealthCare Support today at 888-219-6285.