How to Become a Physician Assistant in Wyoming
Although in 2002 the number of physician assistants working in Wyoming was projected to grow 49 percent through the decade ending in 2012, actual growth in the profession turned out to be nearly 200 percent. The rapid expansion of Wyoming’s PA sector can be attributed to two main factors: baby boomers getting older and placing a greater demand on the state’s healthcare system and the growing role PAs are playing in the medical field as they assume many of the roles traditionally filled by doctors, especially in response to the demand for rural healthcare. Students interested in learning more about how to become a physician assistant in Wyoming can browse through the following steps:
- Select Wyoming Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
- Apply for a PA License with the Wyoming Board of Medicine
- Maintain the Wyoming PA License
Step 1. Select Wyoming Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
Candidates applying to PA degree programs in Wyoming should take care they apply to the properly accredited institutions. To be able to legally practice in the Cowboy State students will need to have graduated from a PA program that is approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or its successor.
Candidates should also ensure they can meet the admission requirements for the degree program they choose. Although these differ from institution to institution, some common standards are:
- Previous clinical experience
- Acceptable GPA, especially in prerequisites
- Bachelor’s degree in any field
Having a bachelor’s degree is generally required by PA degree programs because these are offered at the graduate level. Undergraduate degrees in the following majors will additionally fulfill several PA prerequisite courses:
- Public Health
- Organic Chemistry
- Medical Assistant
Step 2. Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
After a few years studying in their PA degree programs students will be ready for the PANCE. They can register for this starting 90 days before their program ends, and can prepare by studying the human body and diagnosing the afflictions of its major organ systems. Registration costs $475 and the PANCE itself is a multiple-choice test taken on a computer at a nearby testing location. The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) administers the exam which is comprised of 300 questions over the course of five hours. Upon successful completion students are awarded NCCPA certification in the form of the credential Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C).
Step 3. Apply for a PA License with the Wyoming Board of Medicine
Obtaining a state PA License involves making an application to the Wyoming Board of Medicine. A complete application packet includes:
- $200 application fee
- The candidate needs to arrange for the following to be sent by the appropriate source directly to the Board:
- Proof of graduation from an approved PA degree program
- Verification of NCCPA (PA-C) certification
- Two letters of reference, at least one from a physician familiar with the candidate’s work
Before being able to practice PAs will need to submit an Application for Supervising Physician.
Step 4. Maintain the Wyoming PA License
PAs will need to renew their Wyoming PA License every year by December 31st for a $100 fee. As a condition for renewal, PAs need to maintain their NCCPA certification which means having at least 100 continuing medical education credits every two years, and on the tenth year passing a test similar to the PANCE, the PANRE or Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam.
Professional information, news, advice and support are all available with the state’s local league of fellow practitioners, the Wyoming Association of Physician Assistants (WAPA). Last year PAs in Wyoming averaged an annual salary of $94,850.