How do I Become a Physician Assistant?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2018
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Physician assistants are healthcare professionals that function under the direction of a licensed medical practitioner. The physical assistant or PA is often a member of the staff at the office of a general practitioner, although the PA can function as an assistant in many different environments. If you are interested in what it takes to become a physician assistant, here are some things you should know.

Your first step in becoming a medical assistant of this type is to look into the type of training required in your country of origin. In many nations, it is necessary to have at least two years of higher education, including a major in what is known as a hard science. Other countries require that the prospective PA have at least a bachelor’s degree in a hard science such as chemistry or biology. Once you have enough education credentials to qualify, your would continue your education toward completing any additional coursework that may be necessary in order to eventually be granted a license to practice.

For the most part, it is not necessary to complete a residency or internship in order to become a physician assistant. However, the remaining requirements are often much like those required of students who wish to become doctors. Depending on the scope of practice that the PA wished to pursue, some time spent in a mentoring program with a doctor may be helpful.


Once all educational requirements are met, the next step to become a physician assistant involves taking the examinations required by the jurisdiction where you plan on pursuing your career. In some countries, this involves taking and passing an examination that is developed and administered by a federal agency. Other nations leave this process in the hands of state level agencies that set criteria based on local needs.

While pursuing your license, your goal to become a physician assistant may be helped along by working in some capacity connected with your final choice of health care jobs of this category. For example, if you hope to become a PA that works in emergency situation, you may want to find work as an emergency medical technician or EMT. This would allow you to gain practical experience that would serve you well with your final examinations prior to the licensing.

The final step to become a physician assistant is to find and secure a position in the area of health care you wish to be associated with. Medical careers of this type can allow you to work with general practitioners, psychologists, or even surgeons in some field of medicine. Before making a final decision, take the time to look at all the medical careers open to you. Doing so will help to ensure you find your career satisfying and fulfilling for many years to come.



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