How to Become a Physician Assistant in Missouri
If you’ve recently had a medical appointment, chances are you may be been treated by a physician assistant. Doctors today are utilizing the services of physician assistants more and more as an attempt to provide better medical treatment, see more patients and keep overhead costs down. Learn what it takes to become a physician assistant in Missouri, and learn about the various physician assistant programs in Missouri.
Physician Assistant Requirements
To work as a physician assistant (PA) in Missouri, you must complete an accredited training program and obtain certification. Most physician assistants have at least a bachelor’s degree, although physician assistant programs can be completed in about two years. Missouri often prefers their PAs have master degrees. Before a physician assistant can practice, he or she must be registered with a licensed physician to indicate that he or she is under supervision. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, AT Stills University of Health Sciences, Missouri State University and Saint Louis University are the only accredited physician assistant schools in Missouri.
Is Any Prior Education or Training Required?
Physician assistants must complete a rigorous training program that includes medical classes, lab courses and internships. In addition the PA student must complete several clinical rotations to gain practical experience working with and treating patients. In many cases, the student must complete at least 2,000 hours of clinical rotations. Physician assistant programs often have strict admission requirements that may include proof of citizenship and social security number, health insurance, criminal background check clearance, current immunizations and good physical health. In addition, the student must have already completed a group of prerequisite courses, which include math and science courses.
Are Physician Assistants Required to be Certified?
Missouri is one of many states that require their physician assistants be licensed. To obtain licensure, the PA must pass an exam administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. The test, which consists of multiple-choice medical and surgical questions, is administered at various testing sites throughout the United States. PAs must pay a fee for the license.
Is Continuing Education Necessary?
Continuing education is necessary for the purpose of maintaining both licensure and certification. Although certification is good for two years, the PA must complete at least 100 hours of continuing education biannually to keep the certification. A recertification exam must also be taken every ten years.
Physician Assistant Salary in Missouri
Although Missouri ranks among the top states in terms of employment level for this profession, with 1,260 employed as of May 2013, the physician assistant salary Missouri offers puts them among the lowest states in terms of annual wages according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to a February 2015 report by Salary.com, physician assistants in St. Joseph earned an average annual wage of $85,588 while PAs in Kansas City and Colombia earned $92,944 and $85,030, respectively. Physician assistants in St. Louis earned $92,585.
Physician Assistant Job Duties
The job duties of a physician may vary from one medical facility to another, but are similar to those of a licensed doctor. The one difference is that the PA must be working under a doctor’s supervision. The duties a physician assistant performs throughout the day may include the following.
• Diagnosing injury or illness
• Treating patients
• Ordering test or exams
• Performing physical examinations
• Reading and interpreting diagnostic tests
• Counseling patients and family members
• Scheduling appointments
• Giving immunizations
• Prescribing certain medications
Although Missouri law allows medical school graduates to work independently as “assistant physicians”, their capacity is different than that of a physician assistant, which has to work under supervision. Although the PA must work under the supervision of a licensed doctor, the doctor doesn’t need to be present at all times but cannot be more than 30 miles away.
What Tasks is a Physician Assistant Legally Allowed to Perform?
There are some restrictions and requirements that must be met regarding some physician assistant job duties. In order to prescribe Schedule III, IV and V controlled substances, the PA must provide proof of the following.
• Completion of an approved advanced pharmacology course
• Completion of at least 120 hours under the supervision of a licensed physician
• Completion of at least 300 clock hours with a licensed physician working with controlled substance prescriptions and therapeutic devices
• Completion of at least one year of supervised clinical training or rotations in an ARC-PA-approved setting
One the individual has met these requirements, he or she can apply for controlled substance prescriptive authority. Physician assistants cannot have their own office and cannot bill patients. Physician assistants working under licensed physician’s supervision can also enroll with the Missouri Department of Social Services to work as a Missouri HealthNet provider.