How to Become a Physician Assistant in Ohio
If you want to become a physician assistant, or PA, in Ohio, you are in good company because thousands of young people aspire to have a career in this field. The profession offers employment in emergency medicine, family medicine, and a wide range of medical specialties. The PA profession tends to be stable, resistant to poor economic cycles and can be pretty financially rewarding, not to mention that it is one of the fastest-growing professions in the U.S. with plenty of jobs available.
What are the Duties a Physician Assistant?
A physician assistant practices medicine usually on a team that is supervised by physicians and surgeons. The PA examines patients, diagnoses injuries and performs simple medical procedures such as setting simple fractures. In some cases, the PA is allowed to prescribe medication. Physician assistants normally work in offices, hospitals and other types of healthcare settings.
Physician Assistant Requirements
All states in the U.S. require physician assistants to be licensed. To become a PA in Ohio, you are required to have a Masters’ Degree from an accredited education institution. Even though the academic qualifications vary from state to state, in Ohio you are required to have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA as well as a Bachelor’s Degree. But, it’s usually recommended to try and exceed the minimum requirements to enhance your chances of landing the program. Many applicants usually have prior work experience in health care work; so that might help too.
There are certain extra requirements that you might need depending on the kind of program you have applied to. These can include volunteer activities, previous health care experience, and shadowing. The kind of experience that is required includes hands-on patient care and interaction or health care-related volunteer work. Many applicants have prior experience as nurses, paramedics or EMTs.
If you would be interested in shadowing a PA, you can visit the OAPA website to check the available PA volunteers by region. There is usually a high demand for shadow opportunities and these opportunities are mostly reserved for undergraduate students.
Armed with these qualifications, you can apply to one or several of the top physician assistant schools in Ohio such as Kettering College, Lake Erie College, Baldwin Wallace University, Mount Union College, University of Toledo, Marietta College, University of Findlay, Cleveland State University, University of Dayton, and Ohio Dominican University. The Master’s Degree program takes 2 years of full-time postgraduate study.
Letters of Reference
You should select a reference that can outline your involvement in patient care or your volunteer activities. The letters of reference act as important components that are used by the programs to evaluate your background and experience.
Other Important Qualities
There are several other important qualities that you should possess if you want to train as a PA. These include:
- Good Communication Skills: PAs are required to explain complex medical issues to patients in a simple and easy-to-grasp language that the patient can understand. They must also effectively communicate with physicians and other health care workers to ensure the patient gets the best possible care.
- Compassion: Many PAs are drawn to the profession by a genuine desire to help people, with the money being a secondary concern. Being compassionate with people will go a long way to enhancing your career.
- Detail oriented. You should have a good eye for details as a PA. A good PA should be focused and observant.
- Emotional Stability: PAs often work in sensitive and demanding situations such as surgery or emergency rooms. The PA should be able to remain calm even when working under stressful conditions.
- Problem-solving Skills: PAs are constantly called upon to evaluate patients’ symptoms and conditions and administer treatment. They should be diligent enough when dealing with complicated medical issues.
What Should You Expect Once You Are Accepted Into the PA Program?
Physician assistant programs in Ohio typically last 26-28 months and the curriculum is usually rigorous. The program does not, unfortunately, offer part-time, weekend or evening classes.
Once you get accepted into the PA program, expect to take courses such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, clinical medicine, patient evaluations and medical ethics. You will also practice rotations. PA education involves classroom as well as laboratory instructions. The programs involves hundreds of hours of supervised clinical training in areas such as family medicine, emergency medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics.
Students sometimes serve in the areas mentioned above under the supervision of a physician looking to hire a PA. The rotation in this case might lead to permanent employment.
Licenses, Registrations and Certification
All states in the U.S. including Ohio require PAs to be licensed. To become a licensed PA, you will be required to pass PANCE, or the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. This is an exam administered by NCCPA. Once you pass the examination, you will now be entitled to use the PA-C credential (Physician Assistant-Certified).
To keep their certification valid, PAs in all states in the U.S. are required to complete 100 hours of continuing education every 2 years. The PA must also sit for and pass a recertification exam once every 10 years.
How Much Can You Expect To Be Paid As A PA Practicing In Ohio?
Working as PA can be quite financially rewarding. The average annual physician assistant salary Ohio clocks in at around $85,000 ($40.86 per hour), just slightly lower than the national average of $86,400 ($41.54 per hour). The available positions for PAs in the country are growing at about 30% per annum–much higher than the national average for other types of jobs.
Many physician assistants pursue additional education in different specialties. There are a number of postgraduate educational programs that are available such as emergency medicine, surgery and psychiatry. To enroll into one of these programs, a PA is required to be a graduate of an NCCPA-certified program.
As PAs gain greater experience and clinical knowledge, they can take on new responsibilities and be rewarded with higher wages. Experienced PAs can supervise other health care staff as well as PA students.