Most physician assistant programs require applicants to have previous healthcare experience and some college education. The typical applicant already has a bachelor’s degree and more than four years of healthcare experience.
Some Physician Assistants (PAs) begin their careers as community health aides, nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics.
Earning a bachelor’s degree typically takes four to five years, and PA programs take an additional two years to complete. The typical PA program is two years post-bachelors consisting of the diagnosis and treatment of medical problems. General education consists of classroom and laboratory instruction in the basic medical and behavioral sciences such as anatomy, pharmacology, pathophysiology, clinical medicine and physical diagnosis.
Clinical rotations take place throughout the hospital environment in internal medicine, family medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine and geriatric medicine. Near the end of your training, you’ll participate in supervised work experience.
Following graduation, you must take continuing education courses to renew your PA certification. You may also pursue post-graduate work if you want to specialize in a particular field, such as surgery, pediatrics or emergency medicine.