How to Become a Physician's Assistant

Being a physician's assistant is a good way to get a head start in the medical field. To be successful you must have a true desire to help patients, have a good bedside manner and be willing to invest the time needed for training. Think you fit the bill? Here's what you need to do:

  1. Check out medical schools and colleges for accredited courses. Bear in mind that a course may take at least two years to finish. Some schools require a college degree and/or some medical experience as a prerequisite to enrollment [source: Physician Assistants].
  2. Take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination upon completing your coursework. Passing this test, which is administered by the NCCPA, is necessary in order to become a certified physician's assistant [source: Physician Assistant Standards].
  3. Apply for a license, if required by your state (you must already be a certified physician's assistant to apply for a license).
  4. Seek employment. It may be preferable to begin your career at a clinic or hospital before joining a private practice.
  5. Consider working in more than one place, especially if the work is part time. This will help you gain more experience faster. It will also expose you to different methods of patient care.
  6. Maintain your certification by completing 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years, and passing a recertification exam every six years.
  7. Keep yourself up to date, or even expand your knowledge and skills, by taking new courses.