Colorado Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

How to Become a Physician Assistant in Colorado

Physician assistants in Colorado are gradually stepping in to fill the void created by a diminishing number of doctors. According to Colorado Department of Labor and Employment figures, there will be a 29.7 percent growth in the physician assistant field through the year 2019. There were 1,898 practicing PAs working in the state in 2010, with 134 of these being newly licensed that year. In 2012 the average yearly wage for a PA was $89,790. As the employment indicators in this field continue to be optimistic, students may be interested in the process of how to become a physician assistant in Colorado. Once a bachelor’s degree program has been completed, candidates are only about two years away from potentially being licensed to practice in the Centennial State. Becoming a PA in Colorado proceeds along these steps:

  1. Qualify for Colorado Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
  2. Take and Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
  3. Apply for a Colorado PA License
  4. Maintain a License and Certification

Step 1. Qualify for Colorado Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

When choosing a PA program in Colorado, students should keep in mind that the state licensing board only recognizes degrees from an Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)-accredited program. In Colorado there are two institutions with ARC-PA accreditation: a university offering a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies and a community college offering a Certificate of Physician Assistant Studies with an option to continue into a master’s program with a partner university. To obtain a PA Master’s Degree most schools require students to have already completed a bachelor’s degree in any field, plus:

  • Meet required PA program prerequisite courses in psychology, biology, and chemistry
  • Take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
  • Have some clinical experience

Students can save time by majoring in an undergraduate degree that includes PA prerequisites, such as:

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

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

Administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), the PANCE is a $475 exam that consists of 300 multiple-choice questions spread over a course of five hours. Candidates can find the nearest testing center location, register, and take practice exams for $35 online. Upon passing the PANCE, a title and certificate of Physician Assistant-Certified will be bestowed on successful candidates, which they can then include in their licensure application packet to the Colorado Medical Board.

Step 3. Apply for a Colorado Physician Assistant License

To make a complete application to the Colorado Medical Board for a PA License candidates must take the following actions:

  • Fill out an application
  • Pay a $304 application fee
  • Prove legal ability to work in the U.S. with a passport, birth certificate, or permanent residence card
  • Request candidate’s PA academic program to provide the Medical Board with a graduation certificate
  • Request the NCCPA to provide the Medical Board with candidate’s PA-C
  • Submit a Primary Physician Supervisor Registration Form (included in application)
  • Submit a PA work history and explanation of any disciplinary actions or problems that may interfere with job performance, if applicable
  • Create an online Healthcare Professions Profile

Step 4. Keep Licenses and Certifications Current

All Colorado physician assistant licenses expire on January 31 of even numbered years and need to be renewed before this time. PAs must meet a required level of continuing medical education (CME) credits each time they renew their licenses. One way to accomplish this is to maintain the NCCPA PA-C credential. PAs can renew their licenses online approximately six weeks before they expire, at which time they will find more information available on the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Professions and Occupations’ website.

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