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Physician Assistant

Do You Enjoy Assisting Professionals in important Situations?

A physician assistant or physician associate (PA) is a health care practitioner who practices medicine in collaboration with or under the (indirect) supervision of a physician, depending on state laws (equivalent to a nurse practitioner). Physicians do not need to be on-site with PAs and collaboration or supervision often occurs via electronic means when consults are necessary. [1] Their scope of practice varies by jurisdiction and healthcare setting.

They train to work in settings such as hospitals, clinics and other types of health facilities, in academic administration, and to exercise autonomy in medical decision making. They assist physicians in the practice primary care or medical specialties, including emergency medicine, surgery, cardiology, etc. according to a legal scope of practice that may vary across jurisdictions. A period of extensive clinical training precedes obtaining a license to practice as a physician assistant, and similar to physician training but much shorter in duration, includes all systems of the human body. Renewal of licensure is necessary every few years, varying by jurisdiction. They may also complete unofficial residency training, similar to physicians' residencies but significantly shorter, in fields such as: OB/GYN, emergency medicine, critical care, orthopedics, neurology, surgery, and other medical disciplines.

The number of Physician Assistants is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2018 and 2028 with an annual job opening of 644!

39% Growth

Annual No. of Jobs Openings

Physician Assistants can earn as much as $118,000 with experience!

2017 Annual Job Wages

Job opportunities are available in a wide range of healthcare related industries and even educational institutions.
Top 5 Industries

How do you become a Physician Assitant?

Though prospective physician assistants can major in any area, a degree in health science provides the background knowledge needed when pursuing entry-level positions or advanced study. An undergraduate program may include the following courses:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Statistics
  • Healthcare Ethics
  • Quantitative Methods

Most PA programs require applicants have at least three years of healthcare experience. Popular choices for gaining this experience include working as an EMT, paramedic, or nurse before applying.

2.    EARN A MASTER'S DEGREE After earning a bachelor's degree, some students go on to complete a two-year master's physician assistant program. PA programs include classroom and clinical instruction in the following subjects:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Pathology
  • Clinical Medicine
  • Medical Laws and Ethics
  • Pharmacology

Another road to become a physician assistant includes completing a rigorous physician assistant bachelor's degree (BA-PA). This allows students to receive a bachelor's degree while simultaneously earning a graduate-level PA certificate, saving both time and money. Master's degree requirements vary by school but most mandate at least 2,000 clinical hours be completed before entering the field. Some schools offer a physician assistant shadowing program or internship opportunities to fulfill the clinical rotation requirement. Prospective students must ensure any program under consideration is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

3.    PASS THE PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT NATIONAL CERTIFYING EXAM (PANCE) After completing a program accredited by the ARC-PA, graduates must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). Only those who graduate from an ARC-PA program may sit for the exam. The test is five hours long and consists of 300 multiple-choice questions designed to assess basic medical and surgical knowledge. Candidates may take the text six times over a period of six years. If a student does not pass within this timeframe, they must complete another ARC-PA educational program before attempting the exam again.

4.    CONSIDER ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION OR BOARD CERTIFICATION Physician assistants can advance their careers by specializing in fields such as nutrition, vascular health, ambulatory care, or orthopedic care. Examples of certifications and board certifications complementing this career path include:

  • Nutrition Support
  • Vascular Access
  • Ultrasound
  • Ambulatory Surgery Technician
  • Neurofeedback

5.    MAINTAIN CERTIFICATION Certified physician assistants need to take the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) during the last two years of the six-year certification maintenance or the 10-year certification maintenance cycle. The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) offers practice exams to help PAs prepare for the PANRE

Physician Assistant Programs Accredited by CAHIIM

Community Colleges


  • Texas Southern University
  • Texas Tech University Health Science Center Department of Diagnostic and Primary Care 
  • University of Texas Medical Branch
  • University of Texas Science Center at San Antonio
  • UT Pan Am at Edinburg
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • The University of Texas South Western Medical Center at Dallas
  • University of North Texas Health Science Center at Forth Worth

Major Employers in the Gulf Coast Region

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*Includes the following counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller, and Wharton