Lots of students are in the medical field because it gives hope for a promising career, one such is physician assistant, although, most of the students don’t know which of the programs or areas to put in for.
When it comes to the medical field, there are diverse areas and specialties to venture into. Hence, it is crucial to obtain proper knowledge of whatever career you have a mind.
Becoming a Physician Assistant (PA) is appealing to many aspiring healthcare professionals due to the versatility of the role and its close contact with patients, however, most of them are not familiar with the programs and courses to take.
Who is a Physician Assistant?
A physician assistant or a physician associate is a licensed mid-level medical professional who holds an advanced degree and is able to provide direct patient care.
They work with patients of all ages in virtually all specialty and primary care areas, diagnosing and treating common illnesses, developing and managing treatment plans, working with minor procedures, prescribing medications and may also serve as a principal healthcare provider.
Most times the specific duties of a PA are determined by their supervising physician and state law, typically, the roles and responsibilities of a PA include:
- Diagnosing conditions and treating common illnesses
- Making rounds and performing patient examinations
- Prescribing medications
- Assisting in surgical operations
- Developing and managing treatment plans
- Advising patients on preventative care and optimal health practices
- Ordering and interpreting laboratory tests and X-rays
PAs are to collaborate with a physician and are to operate under a set scope of practice determined by the state law under the direction and supervision of a licensed physician and they provide many of the same services as a primary care physician.
You may also check out Best PA Schools In Arizona: Physician Assistant Programs Rankings
Physician Assistant School Requirements
Becoming a physician assistant honors your goal and dream to help people and work in the healthcare field. It looks daunting at the beginning, but the rewards are many—both in terms of having a multifaceted and fulfilling career and as well as your potential for earning.
But first, you have to excel in rigorous PA school prerequisites. You have to get strong recommendation letters from your professors and supervisors, you have to obtain thousands of hours of healthcare experience as well and it doesn’t help that each PA program has its own GPA, GRE, and experience hour requirements. So, more often than not, the stated minimums aren’t enough to actually get you accepted to PA school.
Yes, it could easily become overwhelming, but you just need to know what to do, and here’s a simplified guide for you to make yourself a competitive PA school applicant and get accepted into very competitive PA programs:
- Letter of recommendation
As with many professions, the first step in the process of becoming a PA is to earn an undergraduate degree. Every PA program requires the completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
While there is no “official” PA undergraduate degree, PA programs require certain behavioural science classes as prerequisites that is essential to the PA program to which you will apply and this requirement can also be fulfilled in the course of completing a BS/MS Physician Assistant program.
Students can apply to PA school as they finish their final year of undergraduate study as according to the American Academy of PAs (AAPA), most PA programs require that applicants have a bachelor’s degree before entering a PA program.
2). Physician Assistant school requirement Courses
One of the prerequisites for PA school is the courses.
Now, this is where applying for a physician assistant program becomes complicated because PA school requirements vary with every program, so it can be overwhelming to decide what classes to take.
But here is a list of guaranteed science prerequisites almost required by all PA programs and patterns of study:
Lecture: 2 semesters or 3 quarters
Lab: one term
Lecture: 1 semester or 2 quarters
Lab: one term
- General chemistry
Lecture: 2 semesters or 3 quarters
Lab: one term
Lecture: 1 semester or 2 quarters
Lab: one term
Lecture: 1 semester or 2 quarters
Lab: one term
Most PA schools require you take the following non-science prerequisites as well:
- English(Lecture: 2 semesters or 3 quarters)
- Psychology(Lecture: 1 semester or 2 quarters)
- Statistics(Lecture: 1 semester or 2 quarters)
Recommended Additional Courses
Now, the above is the minimum PA school requirements courses held by the majority of programs. But having only these courses may likely limit your options and decrease your competitiveness as an applicant.
In light of that, it is highly recommended you take additional coursework to fulfill the stricter requirements of more selective PA schools. This will require a more rigorous undergraduate curriculum, but the extra effort will accommodate more program options and make you a competitive applicant thereby increasing your chances of getting accepted.
The courses are:
- Biochemistry:2 quarters or 1-semester lecture One term lab
- Organic chemistry: 2 quarters or 1-semester lecture One term lab
- Genetics: 2 quarters or 1-semester lecture
- Medical terminology: 2 quarters or 1-semester lecture
- Physics: 2 quarters or 1-semester lecture
- One humanity course e.g. Sociology: 2 quarters or 1-semester lecture.
- Foreign language: 3 quarters or 2 semesters lecture:
(Note: Foreign language requirements are likely from PA schools in areas with diverse populations.)
What is the needed GPA for PA school? The answer is a bit complex as it varies most times lower or higher but majority of PA programs use a 3.0 GPA, so we can say assuredly that the average GPA for a PA school is 3.0.
During the application process, your GPA will be assessed in four ways:
- Overall GPA
- Science GPA
- Non-science GPA
- CASPA biology, chemistry, physics (BCP) GPA
It is advisable you start calculating and tracking your GPA in these categories.
Note: although the minimum GPA is 3.0 but to guarantee your acceptance you have to aim higher as we already know it is a very competitive program and also taken into consideration the report given by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) in 2020, which reports that the average overall GPA of students who were accepted to PA school was 3.6. as accepted students had, on average, a 3.53 science GPA, 3.67 non-science GPA, and 3.5 BCP GPA. These numbers paint a more accurate picture of your admission chances.
However, your GPA isn’t all that is required for a successful acceptance, typically, your other requirements include GRE scores, healthcare experience, and letters of recommendation as well. So, if you’re below the average GPA, you still have a chance to impress PA programs with the other aspects of your application.
4). Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
As one of your PA school requirements, the GRE General test is required by over half of PA schools (PAEA reports). While a handful of schools offer the choice of the GRE or the MCAT none specifically require the MCAT. So, considering you’ll want to utilize all possible options, it would be in your best interest to take the GRE test—and do well.
One of the upside of this test is that you can take it up to five times within twelve months ( as it is a 21-day wait in between test attempts) and ETS, the test agency will only send the scores you want to potential schools. So retaking the GRE to improve your score would be in your best interest.
The minimum score for GRE is around 295 but the average GRE score of accepted students on the 2020 PAEA report was 306.
It is only ideal then, that you take the GRE well ahead of the PA school application deadlines so you can fit in a few retakes to try to get your score above the average.
5). Healthcare experience
This is one of the most important—and daunting—PA school requirements. A strong GPA and high GRE score won’t get you in the door of a competitive PA program if you don’t possess any related healthcare experience.
Many PA schools designate a minimum number of healthcare hours required for applicants, and this amount varies widely. Citing instances, The University of Iowa, one of the top-ranked PA programs by U.S. News, requires 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience, while the University of Florida requires 2,000 hours, and Penn state college of medicine requires 500 hours.
A few more, even top-ranked schools, don’t require healthcare experience hours at all. Others stipulate hours as preferred, but not required. So, determining the exact number of hours of experience is not feasible. That’s why many students can get hung up on this PA school requirement.
But as a guideline, we’ll explore the various CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants), application categories in experience with the number of average hours earned by accepted students as reported by PAEA.
a). Patient care experience
This is by far the most important experience category on PA school applications. This includes experiences of the responsible for a patient’s care. Examples are; developing treatment plans, performing procedures, and directing a patient’s treatment.
Average hours: 3,240 hours
b). Healthcare experience
This category involves your interaction with patients but is not directly responsible for their care. It can include both paid and unpaid work in a healthcare setting. Examples are; taking vitals, administering medications, cleaning patients, delivering food, or working as a scribe.
Note, the above two may be similar in nature but the core difference is that patient care involves you’re working hands-on with patients. Everything else can be counted as healthcare experience.
This is an experience you gain when you officially shadow a healthcare professional, preferably a physician assistant.
Average hours: 215
This is an umbrella category for every work you complete in a non-healthcare setting—examples include; fundraising for charity, tutoring, building homes with Habitat for Humanity, etc. And if you’ve participated in a medical mission trip or something similar, you may be able to include those hours as healthcare or patient care experience instead.
Average hours: 719
Experience conducting scientific or medical research outside your regular coursework can look good on your application though not a major PA school requirement.
Average hours not provided.
f). Leadership experience
This includes any leadership roles you’ve held within an organization—not necessarily medical-related. The inclusion of this will show your potential to make an impact on others as a physician assistant.
Average hours not provided.
g). Teaching experience
This points to instances when you’ve been in charge of instructing others. Examples include being a tutor or teaching assistant.
Average hours not provided.
h). Extracurricular activities
This is an all-encompassing category to include any non-paid experiences that don’t fit under any of the above options. But be sure these are relevant activities. For example, your participation in healthcare clubs or academic societies.
Average hours not provided.
i). Non-healthcare employment
Here, you’ll list all your non-medical / healthcare paid work.
Average hours: 2,315
Your major does not matter when applying to a physician assistant program. But it will communicate something about you on your PA school applications. So, choose it wisely.
Here are a few things to consider in your choice of a major:
- Make room for your prerequisites
- Choose a major that helps you maintain a high overall GPA.
- Consider healthcare-adjacent majors.
- Show your interest in helping people through Psychology and sociology classes
- Demonstrate your knowledge of diverse cultures by majoring in a foreign language.
- Follow what engages and excites you.
What you should remember is this: all applicants who complete PA school requirements can be considered for admission to a program, no matter what their major is.
Here is the 5000-character essay, where you’re asked to explain your motivation or desire to become a physician assistant. This requirement is unique and is the best opportunity to share your story and communicate why you should be considered for a coveted seat in a PA program.
8). Letter of recommendation
Through CASPA submission of your PA school applications, you’ll be asked to add three to five recommenders under the Evaluations section. The CASPA system will email an evaluation request to each recommender directly. So, it is advisable you choose your recommenders wisely and give them pre-information.
Ensure this PA school requirement is satisfied in a strong way.
The above guidelines will help you in your PA school prerequisites application and will arm you to be a competitive applicant. You can use the PAEA program Directory to find each one’s specific PA school requirements.
After a successful acceptance, you’ll have to Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and earn the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) certification. The exam is five hours long, and content areas tested include 95% medical and 5% other tasks, such as taking patient histories, formulating diagnoses, and administering pharmaceutical therapeutics.
A successful pass from PANCE certified you as a physician assistant, after which you’ll seek licensure from your state in order to begin practicing.
PA programs are also designed to prepare you for the test that all registered PAs must pass–the PANCE.
21 Best Physician Assistant Programs
- Duke University
- University of Iowa
- Baylor College of Medicine
- University of Utah
- Emory University
- George Washington University
- University of Colorado
- University of Texas southwestern Medical Centre- Dallas
- Wake Forest University
- Drexel University
- Interservice Physician Assistant Program
- Oregon Health and Sciences University
- University of Southern California
- University of Washington
- Quinnipiac University
- Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
- Stony Brook University
- Midwestern University
- Marquette University
- University of Wisconsin- Madison
- Yale University
1). Duke University, School of Medicine
The PA program is a 2-year master’s degree program; a baccalaureate degree.
At Duke, the goal of the physician assistant program is to help students get ready for a variety of medical settings. With its impressive achievement on its part in the founding of the PA profession, Duke’s Class of 2021 also achieved an impressive 97% PANCE pass rate, and both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 reported a 98.9% graduation rate. These and other accomplishments led to its first place (tie) on the U.S. News & World Report PA programs ranking list.
Their accredited program boasts that 95% of graduates will be employed within six months of graduation.
Tuition: $92,692 (Residents and non)
Visit program page
2). University of Iowa
The 28-month-long PA program at the University of Iowa has a long history of success. On average, the University of Iowa interviews 120 applicants, all vying for one of only 25 open seats.
Students are equipped with the skills to perform some of the health tasks normally undertaken by a primary care physician (in accordance with the scope of a PA’s work).
It’s on record that since the year 1974, the graduates of The University of Iowa have enjoyed a first-time pass rate of greater than 99.99% compared to the national average of 85% during this same time period.
For the most recent performance, PA Class of 2014 achieved a 100% pass rate compared to the national pass rate of 95% and the class of 2021 also achieved the same feat on the certification exam-PANCE.
These and other achievements led to its being in the first place (tie) on the U.S. News & World Report’s PA program ranking list.
Tuition:$40,315/$84,385 (Residents & non-residents)
Visit Program page
3). Baylor College of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine’s PA program has it all. It landed no.3 on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings.
Located in the largest medical complex in the world, Baylor College of Medicine is one of the nation’s leading health science centers with a long history of excellent performance in the PANCE certification exam. The result of the class of 2021 with a 97% pass rate for first-time test-takers and the Class of 2020 with a 100% pass rate, says it all. The school reports that its graduates have surpassed both first-time pass rates and national mean PANCE scores since 1973.
With its 30-month Master of Science Physician Assistant Program which prepares students to successfully take on the job of a primary care physician and its unique offering of Lifestyle Medicine, in which future PAs learn to help patients with lifestyle changes to treat or prevent diseases, as well as enrichment pathways in medical ethics and tropical medicine, the graduates of PA from this institute comes out duly-equipped.
View program page
4). University of Utah
The 27-month Masters in Physician Assistant Studies program at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT, is dedicated to didactic instruction, clinical training, and a mandatory community-engagement research project in which students lead a small group that includes a faculty member and a community partner.
Though its class of 2021’s PANCE pass rate seated slightly below the national average of 91%, still it landed no.4 on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking list.
Tuition: $69,921/ $103,991
View program page
5). Emory University, School of Medicine
Named one of the best colleges in the U.S. in the year 2017 by The Princeton Review, the accolades have not stopped pouring in as Emory University ranks among the top 5 PA programs on U.S. News & World Report ranking list, and for good reason.
Its class of 2021 reported a 100% graduation rate and it is one of the few schools that also offer a dual-degree program that culminates in a Master of Science – Physician Assistant and Master of Public Health (PH/MPH).
This is achieved through a cooperative agreement between the Emory University School of Medicine and the Rollins School of Public Health
Emory University’s physician assistant program spans 29 months.
Tuition:$99,799 (Residents and non)
6). George Washington University
The physician assistant program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., celebrated its 50th year in 2022.
Among the top 5 on U.S. News & World Reports list, the PA program has recorded great success and a consistently exceptional PANCE pass rate; the class of 2017 & 2021 achieved a 100% graduation rate, and the class of 2018 & 2019 achieved a 98% pass rate.
Applicants to the PA program here must prepare themselves for its dual-degree program; the traditional 2-year program leading to a Master of Science in Health Sciences degree (MSHS) and the 3-year joint program leading to both an MSHS and a Master of Public Health degree (MPH) in which applicants must meet admission requirements for both the MSHS and MPH programs.
Tuition: $86,148 (Residents and non)
View program page
7). University of Colorado
The 36-month program at the University of Colorado (CU) School of Medicine, in Aurora, provides comprehensive physician assistant education in primary care across the lifespan, pediatrics, and care of the medically undeserved.
Students pursuing a master’s degree in physician assistant are trained in a 10-month-long rotation in specialties like primary care, inpatient medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, and neonatology or adolescent medicine.
Its pedagogy made it got a tie for 7th place on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking for PA programs not bypassing the performances of a 100% graduation rate of the classes of 2019 & 2021 and even the class of 2020 which managed to achieve a 93% graduation rate despite the challenges of going to school during a global pandemic.
Tuition: $49,852 / $107,928
8). University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre- Dallas
The 30-month-long curriculum of the PA program at UT is a powerful blend of academic learning and hands-on clinical training which includes primary care, family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, infectious disease, psychiatry, pediatrics, and women’s health.
The perk of this program is that the training takes place which is at one of the best hospitals in America for more than a decade -(U.S. News and World Report’s list)- the Parkland Memorial Hospital, a high-energy, 990-bed county facility that admits nearly 41,000 patients a year and delivers more babies than any other hospital in the nation.
The institution has in its records an impressive PANCE pass rate; classes 2017, 2019, & 2020 all achieved a 100% pass while the class of 2021 reported a graduation rate of 90.3% and a PANCE pass rate of 93%. U.S. News ranked this program 7th in the nation.
9). Wake Forest University
The PA program at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, which tied for the 7th place on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best physician assistant schools has a two-year span curriculum of 91 credit hours.
The PA program has reported graduation rates of 96% for the class of 2020 and 94% for the class of 2021 and PANCE pass rates hit a 98% for the classes of 2019 and 2020 and 95% for the class of 2021.
Tuition: $85,000 (Residents / non)
10). Drexel University
Drexel university runs its physician assistant Master of Health Science degree for 27 months. This program covers 12 months of didactic coursework and 15 months of clinical rotations.
Though it tied for 10th place on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking list its recent graduation rate went a little lower than other degree programs on our list. The class of 2021 reported a graduation rate of just 86%. However, the school does report competitive PANCE pass rates. Among the Class of 2021, 96% of first-time test-takers passed the exam.
Tuition: $79,326 (Residents and non)
11). Interservice Physician Assistant Program
The Interservice Physician Assistant Program, or IPAP, is for active-duty enlisted and officer service members interested in caring for Airmen, Space professionals, and their families.
IPAP is a 29-month, two-phase program that includes 16 months of academics followed by 13 months of hands-on training at a military medical treatment facility.
This unique multi-service opportunity is open to enlisted members and officers from any career field. This is a highly competitive program seeking the best and most qualified applicants, with only 42 seats.
The academic requirements may seem intense, but they provide an assessment of an applicant’s ability to get through the program and provide world-class medical care to service members and families.
IPAP ranks among the top 10 (tie) on U.S. News and World Ranking.
12). Oregon Health and Sciences University
Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) is devoted to health sciences education, patient care, research, and outreach services.
The PA Program has the mission of preparing physician assistants to provide primary care services to medically short-handed communities.
This builds the curriculum which is split into the Academic Year, Clinical Year, Community Outreach Project, and Rural Track (elective).
The OHSU PA Program is a 26-month, full-time course of study leading to a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree.
The PANCE performances of OHSU are one to be reckoned with; the class of 2021 reported a 93% pass rate and a graduation rate of 95.3%. On U. S. News & World Report’s ranking list, the university was ranked 14th in the nation.
Tuition: $87,162 (Residents and non)
13). University of Southern California
If you’re interested in working in primary care, the University of Southern California has a fantastic program for that.
The 33-month PA program lends itself particularly to the practice of primary care medicine with a didactic study and more than a year (54 weeks) of full-time clinical training.
This program ranked 10th place (tie) on U.S. News & World Report, with the class of 2021 reporting a graduation rate of 92% and a PANCE pass rate of 96%.
Tuition: $171,836 (Residents and non)
14). University of Washington
With its five campuses, the University of Washington offers a 27-credit PA program, and
graduation rates among PA students are in the 90% range and above. The most recent statistics, for the class of 2020, show an attrition rate of 92%, but for 2018 and 2019, the school reported graduation rates of 98% and 94%, respectively.
And to the U.S. News & World Report, the institution topped 14th in the nation among physician assistant programs.
Tuition: $73,861 (Residents and non)
15). Quinnipiac University
Quinnipiac University’s physician assisting class of 2021 reported a PANCE pass rate of 92% and a graduation rate of 92.6% and on U.S. News & World Report’s list, the institution was ranked 15th in the nation.
The completion of the 27-month, 94-credit physician assistant Master of Health Science program at Quinnipiac University follows the issuing of the Physician Assistant Certificate/Master of Health Science degree which signifies that the holder is prepared for entry into the practice of medicine.
One unique aspect of this program is that the first-year students spend half a day each week working with licensed providers in clinical practice. Students at this university work with actual patients from the start.
This builds up their impressive PANCE pass rate.
Tuition: $95,000 (Residents and non)
16). Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
The PA program at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago is a 24-month program with the traditional curriculum of one year of didactic coursework followed by a year of clinical rotations in the specialties of internal medicine, surgery, family practice, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and Women’s Health. Students also choose two electives to customize their education to fit their clinical interests.
The class of 2021 reported a 97% PANCE pass rate and a 98.5% graduation rate.
Tuition: $76,058 (Residents and non)
17). Stony Brook University – SUNY
The PA program at the Stony Brook School of Health Professions in Southeastern New York is one to reckon with.
The impressive performance of the class of 2018 with a 100% PANCE pass rate, 2019/2020 a 98% and the class of 2021 a 91% pass rate led the U.S. News & World Report to rank the program as tied for 15th place.
The PA program follows a 24-month curriculum.
Tuition: $46,000 / $114,600
18). Midwestern University
At Midwestern University, students can pursue a Master of Medical Science (MMS) in the Physician Assistant Program. This 27-month program begins with 12 months of basic science classes as part of the didactic phase of the study, followed by 15 months of clinical rotations that students complete primarily in the Chicago metropolitan area.
The class of 2021 reported a graduation rate of 94.3% and a PANCE pass rate of 96%. Midwestern University ranked 21st on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking.
Tuition: $99,032 (Residents and non)
19). Marquette University
Getting into the physician assistant studies program at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, isn’t easy. Between 850 and 1,000 prospective students submit an application each cycle, but the school only accepts 75 students per year.
Despite the program’s selectivity, Marquette University is tied for 26th place on U.S. News & World Report’s list. Marquette’s class of 2021 reported a PANCE pass rate of 100%, in keeping with most of the graduating classes over the past five years. The class of 2019, the exception to Marquette’s pattern of 100% pass rates, still achieved a pass rate of 98%. And the class of 2021, the graduation rate was 97.34%.
In addition to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree, the institution offers a postgraduate physician assistant emergency medicine program for PAs looking to specialize in this branch of medicine.
Tuition: $114,000 (Residents and non)
20). University of Wisconsin- Madison
Most physician assistant programs are full-time programs, but the University of Wisconsin offers two part-time distance tracks for students who want to move forward with their PA education but can’t commit to it full-time.
This program offers five program tracks that include in-person studies at different campus locations, part-time distance-learning options, and a dual-degree option. This program also earns the distinction of being unusually affordable – at least for in-state students.
The traditional 24-month in-person PA program at the University of Wisconsin is called the campus track, and it is offered on the school’s Madison, WI, campus. A second campus-based program is offered at UW-Stevens Point at Wausau.
Students within driving distance of the Madison campus are considered part of the regional distance education track, while students living in medically underserved areas are part of the traditional distance education track. Either distance track will include 24 months of didactic learning completed on a part-time basis before a 12-month, full-time year of clinical rotations.
Over the course of a 33-month curriculum, the MPH-MPAS track is also a dual-degree program for students interested in both the physician assistant career path and studies in public health.
The University of Wisconsin’s Class of 2021 reported a 100% graduation rate and a 92% PANCE pass rate. U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Wisconsin among the top 15 physician assistant programs in the nation.
Tuition: $32,594 / $72,000
21). Yale University in New Haven
The school has one of the best physician assistant programs in the country. The first-time PANCE pass rate for Yale University physician assistant graduates has been 100% every year for the past half a decade. Even with the exception to this 100% pass rate, the class of 2019, still achieved a remarkable 95% pass rate. For both the class of 2020 and the class of 2021, the PA program graduation rate was 100%.
Yale University’s PA program curriculum spans 28 months, with a 12-month didactic phase and a 16-month clinical phase. During both phases, students also have opportunities to be involved in research efforts.
Tuition: $83,162 (Residents and non)
Physician Assistant Jobs
Physician assistants practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons and other health workers.
They work in all areas of medicine, including primary care and family medicine, emergency medicine, and psychiatry.
Typically, they do the following:
- Diagnose patients,
- Prescribe drugs,
- Interpret x-rays,
- Give treatment,
- Educate and counsel patients,
- conduct or participate in outreach programs,
- Talking to groups about managing diseases and promoting wellness
- Research the latest treatments to ensure the quality of patient care
Physician Assistant Job Description
The physician assistant has no specific duty and the extent to which they must be supervised by physicians or surgeons differ from state to state.
The totality of the job description of a physician assistant depends largely in part, on their specialty or the type of medical practice where they work. For example, a physician assistant working in pediatrics may examine a child and even give routine vaccinations while another working in surgery may close incisions and provide care before, during, and after the operation.
But in areas, especially rural and medically underserved communities, physician assistants may serve as the primary care providers at clinics where a physician is present only 1 or 2 days per week. In these locations, physician assistants collaborate with the physician as needed and as required by law.
Depending on the area of interest, physician assistants can specialize in areas such as dermatology, cardiology, obstetrics, and gynecology, and pathology.
Note: A physician assistant is different from a medical assistant.
A medical assistant does the routine clinical and clerical task and do not practice medicine while some physician assistants make house calls or visit nursing homes to treat patients.
Physician Assistant Salary
The median physician assistant salary varies from state to state.
But on average, Physician Assistants made a median salary of $115,390 in 2020. The best-paid 25 percent made $135,220 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $95,730. (U.S.News).
Also, another source has it that, in the United States, the average Physician Assistant – Medical salary is $113,689 as of August, 2022, but the range typically falls between $104,648 and $125,344. (Salary.com).
While in Nigeria the PA typically earns around 552,000 NGN per month. Salaries range from 287,000 NGN (minimum ) to 845,000 NGN (maximum).
Top-paying Places Of Employment For Physician Assistants
In addition to region and education, factors such as specialty, industry, and employer have an effect on a physician assistant’s salary. The top-paying places of employment with the highest average annual salaries for this career are
- Personal care services ($144,260);
- Outpatient care centers ($128,820);
- Scientific research and development services ($124,400);
- Employment services ($120,400);
- Residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities ($119,970).
The majority of physician assistants (53%) work in physicians’ offices. Most physician assistants work full-time.
Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including but not limited to education, certifications, additional skills, and not to forget.. experience.
Best-paying States For Physician Assistants
Below are the best-paying States for Physician Assistants
The states and districts that pay Physician Assistants the highest mean salary are:
- Alaska ($150,430),
- Connecticut ($146,110),
- Rhode Island ($135,800),
- California ($135,180), and
- Nevada ($134,710).
Physician Assistant Job Outlook
For those looking to have a future as a PA, you’re in luck as the outlook is bright.
According to U.S. News: The Physician Assistant job overall score is 8.3/10. Besides, it’s #2 in Best Health Care Jobs, #3 in 100 Best Jobs and #3 in Best STEM Jobs.
Furthermore, The profession is thriving, from 2010 to 2017, the PA field grew by 53.8% and by the end of 2017, there were 123,089 Certified PAs in the United States, according to the 2017 Statistical Profile of Certified Physicians Assistants.
Also, the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) projects a 31% job growth for PAs between 2020 and 2030, with 40,100 jobs added by that time. This is compared with an estimated 12% growth for those in the health diagnosing and treating practitioner positions.
The BLS notes that another factor driving this strong growth is the aging population and its need for healthcare over the coming years. As more people are being diagnosed with chronic diseases, there will be an increased need for preventive care and treatments. In addition, health insurance reform will allow more people to get healthcare, and physician assistants will be needed to provide these services.
A Physician Assistant is a rapidly growing profession and offers a lot of flexibility in the world of medicine. PAs are able to work directly with their patients and form connections.
While the process of becoming a PA is fairly extensive, these steps are important for PAs to provide the best care to their patients possible.
Physician assistants (PAs) are essential members of the healthcare profession who care for millions of patients every week, providing primary care as well as a broad range of specialty care to people of all ages.
FAQs On Best Physician Assistant Programs
The number of years spent in a PA program varies as has been shown in the top 21 programs above.
On average, it ranges from 24 months to 36 months.
Though criteria and statistics change from time to time currently based on acceptance rate, the easiest PA schools to get into are:
Barry University 85%
Faulkner University 76%
Alvernia University of Physician Assistant program 70%
Clarkson University Department of Physician Assistant Studies 72%
Alderson Broaddus University 53%
Brenau University 64.5%
Florida gulf coast university 91%
Johnson & Wales University 87%
George Washington University 41%
Frostburg state university 74%
Quinnipiac university 72%
Wingate university 93%
The state of California has about 15 active PA programs. And they are one of the states with the highest mean PA salary.