Arizona Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

How to Become a Physician Assistant in Arizona

Arizona counts 1,610 physician assistants among its ranks of heath care professionals. Nationwide the outlook for physician assistant employment prospects are very good – more than double that of all other occupations outside the health care field – and because Arizona is one of the most popular states for retirement, the demand for PAs is expected to be all the more greater. The process of how to become a physician assistant in Arizona follows these steps:

  1. Qualify for an Accredited Physician Assistant Degree Program by Meeting Prerequisites
  2. Take and Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
  3. Apply for Licensure to the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants
  4. Maintain Certification

Step 1. Meet Qualified PA Degree Program Requirements

The first step on the path to employment is choosing accredited Arizona physician assistant programs for licensure. To practice medicine in the state, PAs need to have graduated from a degree program that is certified by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) . Once this can be established candidates will next need to make sure they are eligible for the physician assistant program. Because these are graduate-level courses of study, already having a bachelor’s degree in any subject is a must. Undergraduate fields that can save PA program applicants from spending additional time on prerequisites include:

  • Biology
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Chemistry
  • Anatomy
  • Public Health
  • Medical Assistant

Physician Assistant degree programs vary depending on the education institution, however some common requirements for admission include:

  • Courses in science, biology, and psychology
  • Previous healthcare experience
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Step 2. Take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)

The PANCE is offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) and is available at testing center locations across the country with some even overseas. The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) sponsors the test, which lasts five hours and is comprised of 300 multiple-choice questions. Candidates can register online and the test fee is $475. The NCCPA also offers PANCE practice exams for $35. Those who pass the exam will earn a Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) credential and certificate, which can then be submitted with an application for licensure in Arizona.

Step 3. Apply for Licensure with the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants

Completing this step is essential for PAs who would like to work legally in Arizona, and involves sending the Arizona Regulatory Board of PAs a complete Physician Assistant Application along with:

  • $125 application fee
  • List of all PA employment held in the past five years
  • Explanation of “yes” answers on PA application, if applicable
  • Evidence of legal name and eligibility for employment in the U.S.
    • Passport
    • Birth Certificate
    • Permanent Residence Card
  • The applicant must forward certain forms contained in the application to:
    • The NCCPA to confirm PA-C accreditation
    • The applicant’s PA education program to confirm graduation

Step 4. Maintain Certification and Licensure

PAs are responsible for keeping their PA-C credential and Arizona PA License up to date. Starting in 2014 PA-C recertification will move to a ten-year cycle that requires:

  • Completion of 100 credits of continuing medical education (CME) classes every two years
  • Passing the Physician Assistant National Recertification Exam (PANRE) once every ten years, for a fee of $350

Maintaining certification with the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants requires a $185 fee to be accompanied with a PA License Renewal form and can be made online. PAs must renew their license and maintain an annual CME course load totaling 20 hours each year.

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