Becoming a Physician Assistant (PA)

PAs (physician assistants) are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice.

If you are passionate about helping others, and working in medicine, then a career as a Physician Assistant might be for you. It's one of the fastest-growing health careers in the country, and one of the most rewarding. To become a Physician Assistant requires enrolling in an intensive medical training program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

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PAs are educated at the master’s degree level. There are more than 300 PA programs in the country and admission is highly competitive, requiring a bachelor’s degree and completion of courses in basic and behavioral sciences as prerequisites. Incoming PA students bring with them an average of more than 3,000 hours of direct patient contact experience, having worked as paramedics, athletic trainers, or medical assistants, for example. PA programs are approximately 27 months (three academic years), and include classroom instruction and more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations.

Because PAs maintain a tight working relationship with physicians, they are educated in a medical model designed to complement physician training.

There are more than 300 accredited programs in the United States. To find one closest to you, visit the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.

Interested in a career as a Physician Assistant? Curious about educational requirements, certifications and job prospects?

Visit the American Academy of PA for answers to frequently asked questions about becoming a PA.

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