How to Become a Physician Assistant in Idaho
Physician assistants (PAs) play an important role in healthcare because their knowledge and skill allow them to assist physicians in diagnosing and treating patients thus allowing for better health care and lower medical costs for patients. Learn about the various physician assistant schools in Idaho as well as state requirements.
Physician Assistant Requirements
Physician assistants must meet specific requirements regarding training; this can usually be accomplished by attending accredited physician assistant programs in Idaho. The candidate should have letters of reference, be a resident of the U.S. ,speak fluent English and pass a criminal background check. The training program must provide a blended curriculum of healthcare-related classroom courses, internships and clinical rotations.
The clinical rotations provide the student the opportunity to gain experience working in various areas of a medical facility. Students can expect to work in areas such as outpatient medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, psychiatry and emergency. Aspiring PAs may also be required to obtain some work experience in addition to the training.
Is Any Prior Education or Training Required?
Students interested in becoming physician assistants must find physician assistant programs in Idaho that are approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the United States Secretary of Education or a board-approved agency such as the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Physician assistants must have at least a bachelor’s degree, although many PAs extend their training and earn master’s degrees.
Prior to starting the PA program, the student must complete certain prerequisite courses such as biology, English, humanities, chemistry, college math and psychology. In fact, many colleges require the student to complete at least 60 semester hours of required courses before even enrolling in the PA program. Once in the PA program, the student will take courses like abnormal psychology, microbiology, biochemistry, statistics, pharmacology, neurology and emergency medicine. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are only two physician assistant schools in Idaho: Idaho State University and College of Southern Idaho.
Are Physician Assistants Required to be Certified?
Idaho regulates their physician assistants and requires that they be licensed and certified. Before they can practice as physician assistants, they must pass a certification exam through the National Commission of Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) or any equivalent exam approved by the board, which may be practical, oral or written. Typically, the certification exam is a computer-based multiple choice test. Once the candidate has passed the exam, he or she can apply for a license, which is valid for two years.
Is Continuing Education Necessary?
Continuing education is required to maintain licensure and certification, although these are independent of each other. In other words, maintaining licensure requires completing 100 hours of CE every two years. To maintain the national certification, the PA must complete the same 100 hours of CE but must also take a recertification exam every ten years.
Physician Assistant Salary in Idaho
Physician assistants earn a wide range of salaries throughout the state. The physician assistant salary in Idaho typically offers is slightly below the national average. As of a February 2015, physician assistants working in Twin Falls earned an average annual wage of $79,893 while those in Idaho Falls and Boise earned $88,298 and $91,197. This information comes from Salary.com. Place of employment, location, years of experience and skill level can all play a role in determining a physician assistant’s earnings.
Physician Assistant Job Duties
Physician assistants are allowed to perform many job duties throughout the course of the day. They can see and speak with patients regarding their health and any medical problems they may be experiencing. They may also examine the patient; request and read diagnostic tests like x-rays and blood tests; order medication; speak with patients and family members and answer any questions they may have; assess patient medical histories and provide immunizations. The physician assistant may also order medical supplies and assist in most medical procedures. One of the main reasons PAs are being used more and more is because their assistance allows physicians to see more patients throughout the day.
What Tasks is a Physician Assistant Legally Allowed to Perform?
Physician assistants can generally do almost anything a licensed physician can do providing they are working under the supervision of the physician. The licensed supervising physician must be available either in person or by phone and must conduct an on-site visit at least once a month. If the physician assistant wants to prescribe non-controlled and Schedules II-V medications, the individual must apply for this privilege with the Idaho Board of Pharmacy. Once the PA obtains authorization to prescribe, he or she must register with both the Idaho Board of Pharmacy and the DEA.