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Home » How Do I Become a Physicians Assistant? – Career, Salary and Skills 2022

How Do I Become a Physicians Assistant? – Career, Salary and Skills 2022

Physician Assistant

How Do I Become a Physicians Assistant? – Career, Salary and Skills 2022

The journey of a medical assistant is not off the air, there are processes that lead to obtaining a license. In this article by The World Scholarship Forum, we will look at the details that answer queries, how can I become a medical assistant, how much PA schools cost, the nature of the work, how long does it take to become a PA, and much more.

According to, the United States has about 118,800 medical assistants. The BLS predicts this number will grow by 31% between 2018 and 2028, following an increase of 37,000 jobs. The growth rate of the profession far exceeds the average growth of all occupations by 5%. 

In this article, we will talk about the processes involved in becoming a PA, the nature of the job, the salary outlook and career prospects, the cost of PA schools, and where you can get a degree in Medical Assistant Read carefully!

Who Is A Medical Assistant?

Medical assistants operate under medical supervision and provide assistance to teams in the healthcare field. In a medical setting, they require specialized education and comprehensive preparation.

Additionally, courses and clinical hours train assistant physicians to provide support during surgical procedures, create treatment plans, assess a patient’s health status, and much more.

What Does A Medical Assistant Do?

Physician Assistants (PAs) provide first-line medical care under the supervision of physicians as part of a team of healthcare professionals.

Medical assistants work as doctors. They screen patients, diagnose illnesses, prescribe medications, and write referrals to specialists. However, PAs are required to work under the supervision of a physician.

Additionally, APs may work in speciality medical positions in roles such as anesthesiologist assistant, orthopaedic physician assistant, pediatric physician assistant, radiology assistant practitioner, and surgical physician assistant.

Regardless of their speciality, medical assistants spend their time meeting with patients, sharing vital knowledge about health care, and making conscious decisions about patient management.

It is also worth noting that the duty of a medical assistant differs by speciality and state. For example, in some local areas, a physician assistant can serve as a primary healthcare provider, examining patients, prescribing medications, and even correcting bone disorders. 

Whereas, in a more developed setting, a PA may have a narrower function, such as exclusively closing incisions after surgery or administering vaccinations to pediatric patients.

How can I become a medical assistant?

The path to becoming a PA requires hard work, commitment, and a genuine desire to help others. That is, to become a medical assistant, you need the proper formal training and experience. In addition to formal training, it is important to know how much Pennsylvania schools cost.

Medical assistants require a master’s degree and experience. Upon graduation with a master’s degree, prospective medical assistants must pass the National Physician Assistant Certification Exam (PANCE) and meet applicable state-specific licensing criteria.

Admission requirements to the master’s program will vary, but you can expect to need two to four years of undergraduate course work with a specific focus on a related science. Basically, you are looking for six years of intensive education in total to become a medical assistant.

Therefore, to become an AP, you must follow the following steps;

  • Get prerequisites and experience in healthcare
  • Get a PA master’s degree
  • Pass the National Physician Assistant Certification Exam (PANCE) and obtain a state license
  • Get certified
  • Maintain your certification

Get prerequisites and experience in healthcare

Potential PAs need a qualified bachelor’s degree in order to enter a graduate program. Some graduate schools admit a bachelor’s degree in any subject, but a degree in a related area, such as health science or nursing, provides a suitable background for a PA graduate program.

Ideally, students require undergraduate courses in biochemistry, organic chemistry, immunology, pathophysiology, genetics, and molecular or cellular biology for admission to a PA master’s program. 

In addition, it is also pertinent that master’s applicants have prior experience in healthcare. You can get that experience by being a medical assistant, paramedic, corpsman, peace corps volunteer, surgical test registered nurse, and much more.

It is also pertinent to note that some schools offer dual BS / MS medical assistant programs, which allow students to save time and money.

Get a PA master’s degree

To gain entry to an  ARC-PA Accredited  Medical Assistant Master of Science in Medicine program, proposed students need a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, applicants generally need a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a minimum GPA of 3.25 in science-related courses. They also need a minimum score of 300 on the GRE.

The masters degree generally requires 147 credit hours and requires seven semesters of full-time study to complete.

Students typically take 15 weeks of instructional science courses in subjects such as; medical ethics, clinical radiology and introduction to gynaecology and obstetrics. At the end of the course, students complete eight and six weeks of clinical rotations in fields such as; family medicine, paediatrics, behavioural and mental health, and general surgery.

Pass the National Physician Assistant Certification Exam (PANCE)

After graduation, prospective PAs move on to take the PANCE. This exam covers organ systems and disorders, diseases, and evaluations. The medical content represents 95% of the exam.

Candidates can make up to six attempts to pass the PANCE in six years. Upon passing the exam, medical assistants must obtain a state license to practice. Since licensing requirements vary by state, APs should contact their state licensing board for more information.

Get Certified

After being licensed, APs may choose to pursue board certification or specialization to enhance their knowledge and skills and advance their careers in a particular area. Physician assistants can focus on areas such as cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, hospital medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry, and orthopaedic surgery.

To acquire speciality certification, PAs must be licensed and experienced in a speciality, meet continuing education requirements in their speciality, and be endorsed by a physician. After meeting these terms, they must pass a speciality exam. In early 2020, APs wishing to specialize must pay $350, which covers a $100 administration fee and a $ 250 exam registration fee.

Maintain Your Certification

To maintain certification, medical assistants must earn at least 100 continuing education credits every two years. They must also pass the PANCE during year 10 of their recertification cycle. However, keep in mind that APs that fail the PANCE on their first trial may take the exam up to three more times.

Can I enter a Pennsylvania school with a low GPA?

Most PA schools have often set GPA score requirements. However, the truth is that in order to scare him, you have to get at least a 3.0 GPA. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be a PA, but PA schools must believe that you have the academic competence to get through an intense program.

In some cases, some AP programs consider a separate prerequisite GPA for candidates. If your target programs do this, retaking entry-level courses might be a good option.

Lastly, to balance a 3.0 GPA score, you have to be excellent in the other application areas. Experience is also important for all Pennsylvania school applicants, but it is definitely more crucial if you have a low GPA. Research what the common hours of health care, community service, and observation experience are for the average student admitted to your target PA programs.

Can I get a medical assistant program online?

Although most curricular credits for Physician Assistants include practical instruction and clinical experience, some courses can also be completed online. Since many students are employed, the versatility that online education offers is an attractive benefit.

Before considering an online AP program, the following factors should be considered;

  • Accreditation
  • Laboratory requirements
  • Faculty with experience

Accreditation – Accreditation guarantees that the training offered by an organization meets strict quality requirements. However, receiving a diploma from an accredited university is another essential reason for aspiring medical assistants. Students must complete their training at an approved medical assistant college or university to receive a medical assistant license upon graduation.

Laboratory Requirements – Medical Assistants require extensive real-world experience to be successful in their professions, including opportunities to work directly with patients and as a team in a healthcare setting. All online accredited PA programs allow students to complete a combination of courses and lab instruction. Throughout clinical rotations, students are expected to complete a certain number of hours at a medical facility.

Faculty with a great experience. – The consistency of the educational experience is directly reflected in the teaching style of the teachers and the courses of the program. Therefore, determine whether faculty members have worked in the field during their critical careers. This will aid in the perfect training and mentoring of PA students.

Do medical assistant schools require GRE or MCAT?

According to the PAEA Report, more than half of Pennsylvania schools require the GRE. A handful of schools offer you the option of GRE or MCAT, but none explicitly require the MCAT. Considering that you want to offer yourself as many alternatives as possible, it would be a great advantage to take the GRE test and do it well.

As one of your PA school’s requirements, the GRE is a more rewarding aspect of your application than others. You can take the GRE up to five times in twelve months, and you only need to wait twenty-one days between trial tests. 

You can also afford to retake the GRE test as much as you can until you reach your perfect score.

Many Pennsylvania schools will not establish a defined minimum GRE score. Programs generally set the minimum score around 295, but again, some will be higher and some will be lower.

How much does a medical assistant earn?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the salary for a physician assistant is $ 108,610 per year. APS employed in educational facilities tend to earn less, earning about $ 102,870 a year. On the other hand, those who work in emergency centres earn some of the highest salaries, around $ 115,560.

It’s also important to note that salaries vary from state to industry. Take a look at the top five highest paying states:

  • Connecticut –  Median Annual Salary: $ 126,320
  • Washington  Median Annual Salary: $ 122,710
  • Alaska –  Median Annual Salary: $ 120,990
  • New Jersey –  Median annual salary: $ 120,700
  • Nevada –  Median Annual Salary: $ 119,570

What are the necessary skills required of a medical assistant?

Aside from schooling and tech skills, there is more to being a PA. Employers will seek you out to display a variety of social skills, including:

  • Clinical competence
  • Compassion
  • Ability to listen actively
  • Effective communication skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Work ethic and service oriented
  • Sensitivity
  • Confidentiality
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Operational management

Clinical competence

PA graduates will be in a position to serve the needs of patients in hospitals, emergency care centres, and other medical settings. Therefore, they must learn to handle the needs and situations of all types of patients quickly and effectively.


A physician assistant must be compassionate in his dealings with patients. Compassion goes a long way in the healing process.

Ability to listen actively

As a PA, you must be able to understand what your patients are saying to you. This will help you respond appropriately.

Effective communication skills

Medical assistants are responsible for communicating directly with patients and colleagues in a variety of settings, often under high-stress conditions. Therefore, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively is a key part of success in this field. PA graduates will receive the skills necessary to address the needs of their patients and their teams and ensure that relevant information is provided in an appropriate and timely manner.

Critical thinking

When caring for a patient, you will need to recognize the patient’s illness or injury and develop a treatment plan. The ability to think critically will allow you to evaluate all possible treatment alternatives before deciding which one will have the best result.

Work ethic and service oriented

As a PA, you must be reliable, hard-working, diligent, and willing to work long hours. Medical assistants are qualified to provide exemplary care, both to their patients and to supervising medical professionals. With a service-oriented mindset, they need to get closer to their days and be able to carry out their tasks both individually and as part of a team.


As a medical assistant, you will need to use intelligence and diplomacy to effectively handle a wide range of sensitive personal situations.


What this means is that you must strictly follow patient privacy laws. You will also need to detect when it is best to speak with a patient in private rather than in the presence of a family member or caregiver.

Adaptability and flexibility

During the course of the day, medical assistants are expected to wear various hats. This tends to be challenging, however, as a personal assistant, you must deal with unpredictable circumstances. Simply put, they are expected to be versatile, adaptable, and able to function effectively in any environment.

Operational management

In addition to providing assistance during a procedure or treatment, medical assistants are also responsible for taking care of administrative tasks and supervisory operations. During the degree program, these vital organizational and operational elements sterilization processes will develop skills to ensure that graduates can handle administrative and clinical tasks.

How much do PA schools cost?

Like most college and advanced degree programs in the United States, the cost of PA school is on the rise.

Based on existing data presented by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the Association for Physician Assistants Education (PAEA), and the most recent statistical report from NCCPA, PA schools are ranked in the following price categories;

  • The average cost of public resident tuition for a 27-month medical assistant program is: $79,941
  • The average cost of non-resident tuition for a 27-month medical assistant program is: $90,659
  • Average duration of the program is 27 months

Frequently Asked Questions: How Do I Become a Physicians Assistant?

What does it take to become a physicians assistant?

In most cases, a physician assistant will need a master’s degree from an accredited institution (two years of post-graduate education after completing a four-year degree). … Apply to ARC-PA accredited programs; Complete a 2-3 year, master’s level program; Pass the PANCE licensing exam.

What do physicians assistants do?

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine in teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients.

Is a physicians assistant above a nurse practitioner?

Is NP higher than PA? Neither profession ranks “higher” than the other. Both occupations work in the healthcare field, but with different qualifications, educational backgrounds, and responsibilities. They also work in different speciality categories.

Is a physicians assistant still a doctor?

PAs are “done with school” and will never “be a doctor”. … PAs receive a Bachelor’s degree prior to attending PA school: Most PAs will have 2 Bachelor’s degrees and 1 Master’s degree upon completion of their program. We go through approximately 8 years of post-high school education.

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