Learn How to Become a Physician's Assistant
In hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, there is a greater demand for physicians than are currently available. To address this issue, an increasing number of physician's assistants are being hired to take on the duties of assisting physicians.
Although technically they will act as the right hand to the physician, some assistants actually work full time in an office where the head physicians only spends one or two days a week. Essentially, they are independent medical experts who confer with their head physicians when necessary.
If you want to enjoy the challenges and daily work of being a doctor but want to spend less time pursuing a formal education, then consider earning a degree to become a physician's assistant. Read on to learn more about what it takes to succeed in this career, employment opportunities, educational requirements and studying online.
Educational Requirements to Become a Physician Assistant
Physician assistants will typically need a bachelor's degree before they can be admitted to a physician assistant program. Your bachelor's degree should be in a related field such as medicine, nursing or science. In some cases, it is possible to pursue a combined bachelor's and physician assistant course that can be completed within four years. This is ideal for those who know exactly what they want to do in life and simply want to become a physician's assistant faster.
Whether you are coming straight from high school or have a bachelor's degree, you will need a grade point average of at least 3.5 and great scores on your science and math based classes. Regardless of your certificates and degrees, you will need to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam, or PANCE, before you can begin applying for positions in the medical field.
Types of Degrees Available to Help You Become a Physician’s Assistant
There are several different degrees offered in the field of physician assisting. The most popular for students who are sure that they want to become a physician's assistant is the BA-PA, or the Physician Assistant Bachelor's Degree. This is a four year program that consists of two years of classroom study and theory and two years of clinical experience. The first two years can be completed online if desired.
An MA-PA, or Physician Assistant Master's Degree, takes two years to complete and can be added on to any other bachelor's degree in a related healthcare or science field.
Characteristics of a Physician's Assistant
To work as a successful physician's assistant, you should have a flexible schedule, a friendly disposition, a hardworking attitude, the ability to pay close attention to details and an extensive background in medical knowledge and patient care. It is recommended that those who pursue a career as a physician's assistant have at least two years of clinical experience in a medical or healthcare related field first. You should be able to make independent decisions when necessary, but also have the humility to ask for a physician's recommendation in areas where you are less familiar with.
Opting to Study Online
Online physician assistant degrees are not very common, but their popularity is steadily increasing in the United States. The MA-PA is typically not offered online, as most of the work is done in an internship setting at a doctor's office or a hospital. However, the first section of the BA-PA can be done online with no difficulty. Earning this degree online will allow you to work and study at the same time, will save you time and money on your commute and give you greater flexibility in your life.
Studying to become a physician's assistant is no easy task, but earning your degree online will help make it more convenient and affordable.
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