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Physician Assistant Programs in Illinois

How to Become a Physician Assistant in Illinois

If becoming a physician assistant is a career you think you might enjoy, you’ve come to the right site. Read below and learn how to become a physician assistant in Illinois as well as what’s available in the way of physician assistant programs in Illinois.

Physician Assistant Requirements

In order to become a physician assistant in Illinois, one must complete a formal training program that’s accredited by the American Medical Association, the Committee on Allied Health Education or an equivalent agency. The program’s curriculum must meet the requirements set by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. This requirement is necessary because it determines the individual’s eligibility for certification, which is required for licensure in Illinois. Physician assistants typically have at least a bachelor’s degree and must have work-related clinical experience.

Is Any Prior Education or Training Required?

Physician assistant programs in Illinois consist of medical courses, laboratory studies and clinical internships. The student is also required to complete clinical rotations in many different areas of medicine, which may include gynecology, family medication, geriatrics, general surgery, orthopedics, emergency medicine or pediatrics to name just a few. The programs general last from 24 to 27 months, although they may be longer.

Most programs require the applicant complete a criminal background check and provide proof of a health examination. These requirements usually must be met either before entry to the program or before the clinical portion of the training. Prior to enrollment in the PA program, the applicant must have completed a certain number of science and general education courses. According to the Illinois Academy of Physician Assistants, there are at least five accredited physician assistant schools in Illinois.

Are Physician Assistants Required to be Certified?

Physician assistants must be licensed to work in Illinois. To become licensed, the PA must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). Once the candidate has passed this computer-based, multiple-choice test, he or she can apply for a state license. There are currently about 200 testing sites across the nation. Upon passing the test, the individual can use the credential of Licensed Physician Assistant. Physician assistant licenses in Illinois expire on March 1 of every even numbered year.

Is Continuing Education Necessary?

Continuing education is necessary for the purpose of maintaining both licensure and certification. PANCE certification is good for two years. The PA must complete at least 100 hours of continuing education every two years to keep the certification. After ten years or five 2-year cycles, the PA must take a recertification exam.

Physician Assistant Salary in Illinois

The physician assistant salary in Illinois provides PAs varies throughout the state. Salary.com reports that licensed physician assistants earned an average annual salary of $85,030 in Springfield and $86,220 in Peoria as of February 2015. Slightly higher wages were earned in the more northern part of the state. Physician assistants in Chicago and Des Plaines earned $99,309 while those in Aurora earned about $90,470.

Illinois ranks among the lowest-paying states in terms of annual wage, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Certain factors such as years of work experience, level of training and place of employment can also affect the PAs earnings. The BLS also reports that there were 2,470 PAs employed in Illinois as of May 2013.

Physician Assistant Job Duties

Physician assistants have many of the same job duties as licensed physicians but must work under the supervision of a licensed physician. In other words, the licensed physician must either be present or must be able to be contacted by phone if necessary. Some of the job duties of the PA include diagnosing and treating injuries and illness; scheduling appointments; performing physical examinations, requesting and reading medical tests; writing prescriptions and counseling both patients and their family members regarding diagnosis and treatment options. A physician assistant may perform research and administrative duties as well. The PA may also participate in medical educational programs such as training programs.

What Tasks is a Physician Assistant Legally Allowed to Perform?

Physician assistants can legally perform most of the same tasks as a licensed physician but must be working under the supervision of a licensed physician. According to the Physician Assistant Practice Act of 1987, a licensed physician may only have two physician assistants under his or her supervision at one time, and these individuals must be registered with the state medical board. Before a physician assistant can prescribe controlled substances, the individual must complete a Notice of Delegated Prescriptive Authority for Legend Drugs form to get a license. Once this is completed and the PA has a license number, he or she must register with the DEA. Although physician assistants cannot solely perform surgeries, they can assist in a surgical procedure.