How To Become a Physician Assistant in Nevada
Nearly 1,000 physician assistants are employed in Nevada and joining their ranks would put you in the midst of a nationwide industry boom. The physician assistant industry is expected to grow 38 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nevada’s physician assistants are generally divided between the two population centers in the state. About two-thirds are employed in the southern Las Vegas-Henderson area; the rest are in the northwestern Reno-Sparks area.
Nearly half of Nevada’s physician assistants are employed in primary care in physicians’ offices and another nearly 20 percent work in hospitals. Others work in surgical, emergency and internal medicine. Small percentages work in rural clinics, community health centers and emergency rooms.
Physician Assistant Job Duties
In Nevada, physician assistants, also called PAs, can attend to nearly 80 patients each week, about a quarter of whom are Medicaid beneficiaries. Physician assistants may perform any duties delegated by a supervising physician, including diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering lab work and therapeutic devices and providing preventative care. PAs also may prescribe and dispense the same medications as their supervising physicians.
Nevada law specifically restricts physicians and physician assistants from performing functions restricted by law to dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists and optometrists.
Physician Assistant Salary in Nevada
The average physician assistant salary in Nevada is $106,470, which is among the highest in the nation and well above the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013. Salaries in Las Vegas are slightly higher than in Reno. The median salary of physician assistants nationwide is $92,970.
Physician Assistant Programs in Nevada
Physician assistant schools in Nevada are sparse. Only one program is currently available at Touro University Nevada. A second physician assistant program is being developed by the University of Nevada’s School of Medicine; the program is tentatively slated to start in 2017 at the university’s Reno campus.
Touro University Nevada in Henderson offers a 28-month program through the College of Osteopathic Medicine. Completion of the program earns a Master of Physician Assistant Studies, or MPAS, degree upon completion. The program is nationally accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, or ARC-PA.
The first 16 months of the program consist of academic instruction in a classroom setting. The next 12 months are filled with clinical rotations, including pediatrics and family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency, surgery, behavioral health and inpatient care. Two months of elective clinical rotations offer students a chance to delve into specialties.
Prerequisites courses, which must have been completed within the previous five years, include human anatomy and physiology, inorganic and organic chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology. Psychology and statistics are encouraged. A special program is offered to help veteran candidates for PA school gain upper-level prerequisites.
Physician Assistant Certification
In Nevada, physician assistants are licensed by the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners and the Nevada State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.
Requirements for licensure include completing an accredited physician assistance course, ability to communicate and write in English, being of good moral character, being certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and holding malpractice insurance. The license application seeks information about previous healthcare experience and education as well as convictions involving the sale of controlled substances.
License renewal requires 40 hours of continuing education every two years, including two in ethics and 20 in the PA’s specialty or scope of practice.