How to Become a Physician Assistant in Georgia
A Physician Assistant, also known as a PA, practices medicine on a team comprised of other medical professionals under the supervision of licensed medical doctors and surgeons. PAs examine patients, diagnose injuries, and ailments and provide treatment.
Like most professions, PAs have general requirements that must be completed in addition to state-based requirements in order to be licensed. In order to become a PA in the state of Georgia the following preliminaries must be met:
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Although prospective PAs may major in any field they choose, it is recommended that students major in an area of mathematics or science to not only be competitive against other students vying for admission into a prestigious PA program but also to ensure they have the background they need to be successful in the field.
Earn your Physician Assistant Certificate
Once you’ve earned your Bachelor’s Degree, your next step is to complete a PA program one of two ways. The first way is to earn a Master’s degree through an accredited two-year physician assistant program. The second option is to complete a challenging undergraduate curriculum which offers a BA-PA option; this will allow you to earn your Bachelor’s degree and your PA certificate simultaneously not to mention saving you a lot of money in the long run.
Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
Once you’ve completed an accredited PA program you’ll need to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam or PANCE. It is important when choosing a PA program that you choose one accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission for Physician Assistants. Only students who have completed PA programs accredited by the ARC-PA are allowed to take the exam.
The PANCE is a five hour exam made up of 300 multiple-choice questions that are constructed to assess proficient knowledge of basic medical and surgical procedures. Each prospect is permitted six chances to take the PANCE over the course of six years. If for some reason you are unable to pass or fail to take the exam within the given time frame, prospects are required to complete another ARC-PA accredited physician assistant program in order to qualify to retake the exam.
PA Schools in GA
There are five universities in Georgia that offer PA programs to prospective students they are:
- Emory University
- Georgia Health Sciences University
- Mercer University
- South University
- Georgia Regents University
For more information reference the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants website.
Physician Assistant programs in Georgia
As mentioned above, there are five universities in Georgia offering the PA program. However, if you are a parent or other working professional looking for an option that will allow you to complete a PA program at your convenience and without the hassle of completely rearranging your schedule you may want to consider an online PA program. Please note, because many online schools are often NOT accredited it is recommended that you ensure the institution you choose has been ARC-PA certified prior to enrollment. Below you will find I have compiled a list of online schools offering PA programs.
- A.T. Still University of Health Sciences
- Drexel University
- Lock Haven University
- University of Dayton
- University of Cumberlands
Now after four years of college and two years in a certificated program is it really worth it to become a PA? Well, numbers don’t lie and the paychecks for most PAs seem to outweigh all those nights they spent burning the midnight oil to get those assignments done.
Physician Assistant Salary in Georgia
On average, a Physician Assistant’s starting salary in Georgia ranges between $79,000 – $113,000 making it a very lucrative occupation.
State of Georgia PA Requirements
Once you’ve passed the PANCE and receive the official designation of PA-C (Physician Assistant- Certified) you need to apply for a state license in order to practice. Every
state requires PAs to be licensed in order to practice. In order to maintain the PA-C credential one must earn 100 approved medical continuation education courses every two years in addition to passing the Physician Assistant Recertifying Exam (PANRE) every six years.
Once you’ve completed all the above conditions you’re ready for hire as a Physician Assistant in the state of Georgia!
After being in the profession for some time or maybe just because you’re the overachieving type you may decide to specialize in a particular area of medicine such as: pediatrics, neurology, or gynecology. In order to be declared a specialist PAs need to complete special post-graduate programs in addition to acquiring special certification through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Specialists must be a PA-C and have at least 1 year of assisting and specialty experience in order to qualify to take a given specialty examination.