How to Become a Physician Assistant in South Dakota
The demand for physician assistants across the country is increasing almost exponentially, and the State of South Dakota is no exception. Physician assistants are highly trained in the field of medicine and they perform many of the duties and responsibilities commonly performed by doctors. Although a physician assistant must work under the supervision of a licensed doctor or surgeon, in many instances, they are able to diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatment.
The Requirements for Becoming a Physician Assistant in South Dakota
Although there are some basic or pre-physician assistant programs currently available, it is expected that all PA programs will eventually be Master’s degree programs in the very near future. For this reason, it is recommended that anyone seeking a career as a physician assistant to earn a baccalaureate degree while they are completing their course requisites for any accredited schools that offer PA programs.
Generally speaking, anyone pursuing a degree in physician assistant studies will have a number of basic course requirements, such as a minimum of one year of general chemistry, general biology, animal anatomy, human anatomy, microbiology, general developmental and abnormal psychology, physiology and statistics.
Most academic counselors are also recommending a broader general education course schedule, which would include humanities, communication and social science. Many of the schools that offer these PA programs require a minimum of three months experience in health care.
Physician Assistant Salary in South Dakota
Despite the rural makeup of South Dakota, there are more than 500 actively filled positions and a number of openings for physician assistants in the state. The median hourly salary for a physician assistant in South Dakota is $43.49 per hour. There is a significant amount of variance in the salaries of physician assistants in the state of South Dakota, with the primary factors being the size of the hiring facility and the direct role that the physician will be taking with the company.
Physician Assistant Programs in South Dakota
The most prominent PA program in South Dakota is offered at the University of South Dakota. The program offers a Master’s degree from a fully ARC-PA accredited program. The program does not require a GRE and it also offers TOEFL for nonnative English speakers.
South Dakota State also offers a physician assistant program; however, these courses are more on the pre-requisite course level, meaning that a student can take these courses in order to qualify to be accepted into schools such as the University of South Dakota, which as a fully accredited program. As far as accredited programs are concerned, these are the only physician assistant schools in South Dakota.
Meeting the Minimum Requirement to Become a Physician Assistant
As stated earlier, it will be important to make sure that you meet all of the academic requirements to be accepted into an accredited program. One thing that most students miss is getting the minimum amount of health care experience hours or months. This is why it is important for students to identify the programs that they will want to apply to as early as their freshman year. This will give them ample time to acquire the minimum health experience needed to be accepted into the desired program.
Once the student completes the PA course, they will have to complete the process of becoming certified and licensed in their respective state.
Upon graduating from an accredited PA program, the student will be eligible and qualified to take the “PANCE” — the National Physician Assistant Certifying Exam. This exam is administered through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Those who pass the exam are now qualified to use the title of PA-C or Physician Assistant-Certified
Once the student becomes certified, they will be required to go through the licensing process in the state in which they will be practicing. All 50 states require that PAs graduate from a PA program that is fully accredited, they also require that the applicant pass the PANCE and be nationally certified.
Once a PA becomes licensed, they will be required to maintain their certification in order to remain their licensed status. In order to remain certified, a PA is required to complete a minimum of 100 hours of continuing education credits every two years from the original date of certification.
It will be important for licensed PAs to remain abreast of any changes and updates to the CME requirements to ensure that their certifications don’t lapse. According to many experts, job opportunities in the medical field, including positions as PAs will continue to rise over the next five to seven years, making this the ideal time to begin the process to become a physician assistant.