How To Become A Physician’s Assistant In 5 Steps?

Last Updated on October 20, 2023 by Lori Pace

Physician’s assistants (PA) work under the supervision of physicians and support front-line healthcare providers. Candidates must have a high school diploma and experience in a medical setting. Candidates must complete clinical training and coursework hours to help physicians in surgical procedures, create treatment plans, and work in a fast-paced environment. But in short, how to become a Physician’s Assistant?

What Does A Physician’s Assistant Do?

Physician assistants are part of a team that includes healthcare professionals that work under the supervision and provide primary medical care.

They are more or less like doctors, because they can examine patients, diagnose diseases, prescribe medicines, and refer patients to specialists. However, certified physicians must supervise them.

An assistant to a physician can have training to perform specific medical or surgical procedures. The PA could also be in training to assist an anesthesiologist or orthopedic, pediatric physician’s associate, radiology practitioner’s aid, radiology assistant, and other medical professionals. No matter what their specialty, a PA must meet with patients and communicate important information about patient care.

Why Should You Become A Physician’s Assistant?

Physician assistants are more like doctors than they are. They can examine patients, diagnose diseases, prescribe medicines, and refer patients to specialists, but all of these tasks under a certified physician’s supervision. An assistant to a physician can learn specific medical or surgical procedures.

Physician assistants work alongside nurses, doctors, and therapists. The PA is trained to diagnose, treat and examine patients just like a doctor. They are only allowed to perform this work under the guidance of a physician. Physician assistants, therefore, are considered doctors and have a lot of respect in society.

Your duties as a physician assistant can vary depending on your specialty, state, and service area. A physician assistant is a primary care provider in rural and underserved regions. The PA is licensed to diagnose, prescribe medicine, and set broken bones in such settings. You may be required to perform specific tasks, such as closing incisions after surgery or providing vaccines for pediatric patients. You don’t have to do the same thing every day.

The average salary for physician assistants is also high in the US. The average annual salary for a PA is US$108,600 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. An educational physician assistant earns around US$102,870 per year, while an outpatient PA can make as high as US$115,600. These figures can vary from one state to the next, but they are still very lucrative and highly regarded.

Is It Hard To Become PA?

Estimately, the journey to become PAs take between 7 and 9 years. This include undergraduate education and other training required. However, some people might take longer because to them, becoming a PA can be a challenging process.

On the other hand, there are many people take less time because they wave some courses due to having previous education to fulfill experiential requirement.

How To Become A Physician’s Assistant?

To become a certified physician assistant, you will need to earn a Master’s Degree and have patient care experience. You will need to complete the PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certification Examination) after completing your master’s degree.

How To Become A Physicians Assistant

1 – Earn bachelor’s degree

To be eligible for graduate school, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree. Many graduate schools will accept students with a bachelor’s degree in any field. If you have a bachelor’s in a relevant field, such as nursing, healthcare, or another related subject.

2 – Earn master’s degree

For PAs who want to go into an ARCPA-accredited doctor assistant master of science program in medicine, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree. You’ll need a minimum of 3.25 average GPA and 3.25 GPA score in your science subjects. You will also need to score at least 300 on the GRE.

A master’s degree usually requires 147 credits and takes seven semesters to complete. It usually takes students around 15 weeks to complete the required instructional science courses on topics such as clinical radiology and medical ethics. After completing the course work, students will have to complete a six-week clinical rotation that gives them hands-on experience with general, family, and behavioral/mental medicine.

3 – Pass the PANCE

After you have completed an ARC-PA-accredited doctor assistant master’s degree program, you will need to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). This exam will test your knowledge about organ systems, diseases and disorders, as well as their diagnosis. This exam contains over 95% of medical content.

The regulations allow candidates to attempt the PANCE maximum six times. After you have gotten your certification, you will need a state license. The requirements for physician assistants differ from one state to the next. It’s best that you contact the licensing board of your state for more information and specific criteria.

4 – Choose additional certification or board certification

You should earn specialty or board certification after you have earned your PA license. This certification is great for improving your skills and knowledge, and is a way to advance in your career. You can specialize in any of the following medical fields: thoracic, pediatrics, hospital medicine, psychiatry, or orthopedic surgery.

To earn specialty certification, you will need to have licensure and special experience. You will need to meet any educational requirements and pass a specialty exam.

5 – Maintain certification

You will need to earn at least 100 continuing education credits each year after earning your specialty certification. After 10 years of specialty certification, you will have to reappear for the PANCE exam but you can re-take the PANCE test up to three times if you fail the first time. This will allow you to keep your specialty certification.

Maintain Certification


The role of a physician assistant is crucial in both the federal and state healthcare systems. A physician assistant is a valuable resource to help relieve the burden on doctors, surgeons, and other specialists. A physician assistant profession is not only highly lucrative, but it also has high social respect.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!