How to Become a Physician Assistant in Connecticut
Physician assistants in Connecticut work every day to improve the lives of everyone from newborn babies to the elderly. An untold number of lives are improved and saved every year thanks to their dedication, and the residents of the Constitution State can rest assured knowing the number of PAs is projected to grow as baby boomers age. In 2012 there were 1,911 active and licensed PAs in the state earning an average salary of $104,540. Students interested in a career and how to become a physician assistant in Connecticut can follow these four steps:
- Qualify for Accredited Connecticut Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- After Graduating, Take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
- Apply for Licensure in Connecticut
- Maintain Qualifications for Renewal
Step 1. Qualify for an Accredited Connecticut Physician Assistant Program for Licensure
The first step for prospective PAs is to choose an educational program that meets the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s accreditation requirements. This is fairly straightforward, as the department only recognizes programs approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
Students should also be aware that physician assistant programs are usually at the graduate level, and it is therefore required in Connecticut for all prospective PAs to have a bachelor degree in any subject. Additionally, PA programs have prerequisite classes in the subjects of biology, chemistry, and psychology. Therefore if students have an undergraduate background in these areas it can save time on taking additional PA-program prereqs. These include bachelor degrees in:
- Medical Assistant
- Public Health
Candidates for PA programs should check with individual institutions to determine the exact admission requirements, that often include previous clinical experience and having taken the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). After graduating in about two years students can then sign up to take the PANCE.
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 successful completion of this exam will earn the credential of Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C), required for licensure in Connecticut. The NCCPA offers practice exams for a $35 fee, and the PANCE itself is a five-hour exam made up of 300 multiple-choice questions. Students can find their nearest testing location and register online, a process that includes a $475 fee. Having passed the PANCE, PAs will receive a certificate and be ready to apply for state licensure.
Step 3. Apply for Licensure in Connecticut
Applying to the Connecticut Department of Health for a Physician Assistant License will require the following:
- Complete Physician Assistant License Application
- Proof of graduation from an ARC-PA accredited program
- Proof of NCCPA certification (PA-C)
- Proof of completion of at least 60 hours of instruction in pharmacology for PAs
- Application fee of $190
Applicants can send their required materials to the Connecticut Department of Public Health Physician Assistant Licensure in Hartford and need to arrange for proof of their PA-C and ARC-PA program credits to be sent directly to the department.
Step 4. Maintain Qualifications for License Renewal
Renewing a Connecticut PA License costs $150 and an alert will be sent out 60 days before a license expires. As a requirement for renewal, PAs must keep their NCCPA (PA-C) certification current and this includes:
- Completing 100 credits of continuing medical education (CME) every two years
- Passing the $350 Physician Assistant National Recertification Exam (PANRE) every tenth year
As physician assistants become more established they will have the option of participating in review boards, medical societies and training programs. These include:
- Connecticut Academy of Physician Assistants
- Connecticut State Medical Society
- Connecticut Medical Examining Board