How to Become a Physician Assistant in North Carolina
Anyone considering a career as a physician assistant should know that a PA is someone that practices medicine while under the supervision of a surgeon or senior physician. Before earning the ability to practice as a PA in North Carolina, there are a number of requirements you must first complete. The following will provide in-depth details for everything you need to know in order to start a career as a physician assistant.
Physician Assistant Requirements
There are a lot of things required of a PA. Those that wish to begin a career as a physician assistant should know that, upon graduating from high school, a large amount of education is required. This education tends to last around 6-7 years in total. Once you have finally become a PA, there are a number of things you will be required to do while on the job, including everything from handling stress well and possessing strong communication skills to diagnosing and treating patients.
Is Any Prior Education or Training Required?
There are two periods of education that any aspiring PA will need apply to in order to start a career as one. The first of these is a simple Bachelor’s degree, which can be in Health Science, Medical Science or Physician Assistant Studies. However, the only requirement for your Bachelor’s degree is that it’s a Bachelor of Science. You might also want to consider working as a nurse or EMT for a period of time after earning a Bachelor’s degree, as work experience can go a long ways in ensuring that you are accepted to the Physician Assistant program you apply for.
A Physician Assistant program is the next step in prior education required for those looking to become a PA. Physician Assistant programs in NC tend to range anywhere from 2-3 years and are the equivalent to a Master’s degree. During these programs, you will get a lot of hands-on training that will help once you start a career. The basic curriculum at these Physician Assistant schools in North Carolina consist of courses on pharmacology, diagnosis, pediatrics, surgical technique, pathology and research methods. Before applying for one of these programs, you must make sure that it has been accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. Once you have graduated, you can start taking the necessary steps towards a career as a PA.
Are Physician Assistant Required to Be Certified?
Physician Assistants must obtain certification in order to practice medicine in any state, including North Carolina. The only way for this certification to be earned is by taking specific exams after finishing a Physician Assistant program. The designation a PA receives upon being certified is known as the PA-C.
How Can a Physician Assistant Become Certified?
In order to become a certified physician assistant, you will need to pass what is known as the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. This exam is provided by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and will test you on your medical and surgical knowledge. Once you have passed, you will be fully certified and can begin your job search.
Is Continuing Education Necessary?
Continuing education is a requirement for all PA’s. Every PA with the PA-C certification must earn 100 credit hours of continuing education every two years. You will also need to Pass the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam once every six years in order to remain certified.
Physician Assistant Salary
In regards to physician assistant salary North Carolina comes in at just below the national average. The salary you earn all depends on where you work and how much experience you have. The median annual salary for a PA in North Carolina is just above $94,000. However, it’s possible to earn anywhere from $79,000 to $112,000.
Physician Assistant Job Duties
A PA can be tasked with a wide range of job duties, as they work in practically all areas of medicine. In general, a PA can do everything a standard physician does. However, the most common of these job duties includes reviewing the medical histories of patients, conducting physical exams, ordering diagnostic tests, giving treatment, making diagnosis, Educating patients and their families, prescribing medicine and participating in health-related outreach programs.
What Tasks is a Physician Assistant Legally Allowed to Perform?
A PA in North Carolina is allowed to perform all tasks designated by a supervising physician. These tasks need to be specifically outlined by the supervising physician. A PA cannot practice medicine without a supervising physician or surgeon in place. However, this does not mean that the supervising physician must be on-site at all times, just that they have properly designated all tasks that the PA must do.