Step 1: Complete prerequisites and gain healthcare experience - Application to PA school is competitive. Look into PA programs you want to apply to as early as your first year in college. You’ll typically need to complete at least two or more years of college coursework in basic and behavioral sciences before applying to a PA program, which is very similar to premedical studies.
Learn more about getting into a PA program using the PAEA Program Directory:
Full list of PA programs with requirements (healthcare experience hours, standardized exams, prerequisite coursework, GPA, etc.)
UVA Pre-Health Advising: Physician Assistant
5 Tips for Getting Into PA School by Kimberly Mackey, MPAS, PA-C
Step 2: Attend an accredited PA program - Most programs are approximately 26 months (3 academic years) and award master’s degrees. They include classroom instruction and clinical rotations. You’ll also complete more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations, with an emphasis on primary care in ambulatory clinics, physician offices and acute or long-term care facilities.
Step 3: Become Certified - Once you’ve graduated from an accredited PA program, you’re eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).If you pass the PANCE and maintain your certification, may use the title Physician Assistant-Certified or PA-C.
Step 4: Obtain a State License - Before you can practice, you need to get licensed in your state. All states require that PAs graduate from an accredited PA program and pass the PANCE.
Step 5: Maintain your Certification - To maintain national certification, you need to complete 100 hours of continuing medical education (CME) credits every two years and take a recertification exam (the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam, or PANRE) every 10 years. New requirements for CME went into effect in 2014.