Florida Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

How to Become a Physician Assistant in Florida

Just as the occupational outlook for physician assistants is projected to grow across the country in the coming future, potential in Florida is all the more greater due to the fact that the state counts 18.2 percent of its population over the age of 65, the highest percentage in the nation. Although older Americans go to the doctor more often than other demographics, physician assistants serve all ages of patients who are in medical need. Last year there were 3,870 PAs practicing in the Sunshine State, earning an average yearly salary of $95,650. Citizens who are interested in how to become a physician assistant in Florida can follow this guide for step-by-step instructions:

  1. Choose the Right Florida Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
  2. Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
  3. Apply for a Florida Physician Assistant License
  4. Keep the License Current

Step 1. Choose the Right Florida Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

Students need to be aware of two things when selecting physician assistant degree programs for licensure in Florida: admission requirements and accreditation. Although admission requirements vary from program to program, there are some general guidelines students should know:

  • Most PA programs require previous clinical experience involving interaction with patients
  • Students should plan to take the GRE (Graduate Records Examinations) before admission
  • Prerequisite courses for admission almost always include psychology, biology, and chemistry
  • Since PA programs are graduate-level, most require applicants to already possess a bachelor degree. Undergraduate majors in the following areas can reduce the need for taking extra prerequisite courses for admission to a PA program:
    • Sciences, especially biology and chemistry
    • Nursing
    • Public Health
    • Behavior Sciences, especially psychology
    • Medical Assistant

PA degree programs in Florida must be accredited by two agencies for students to be eligible to later obtain a Physician Assistant License:

  • The Committee on Allied Health, Education, and Accreditation (CAHEA)
  • Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)

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

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is responsible for administering the PANCE, which is a computer-based test covering a range of knowledge in skill areas relating to the major organ systems and their diseases/disorders. Details about the PANCE include:

  • Five hour time limit
  • A total of 300 multiple-choice questions
  • $475 registration fee
  • Offered at a variety of testing locations

The NCCPA offers sample questions and students can register for the PANCE beginning 90 days before graduation from their PA degree program. Once students pass the PANCE they will be awarded a Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) certificate.

Step 3. Apply for Licensure with the Florida Board of Medicine

To apply for a license to practice as a PA in Florida, candidates will need to submit the following to the Department of Health:

  • Application Packet for Licensure
  • Physician Supervision Data Form
  • $100 application fee and $205 license fee
  • Arrange for the following to be sent from the appropriate agency to the Department of Health
  • Proof of graduation from an accredited PA degree program
  • Proof of PA-C certification from the NCCPA

Step 4. Maintain the PA License

PAs must renew their licenses by midnight Eastern Standard Time on January 31, 2014 and every subsequent second year thereafter. This can be accomplished by obtaining 100 hours of continuing medical education (CME), submitting a License Renewal Application, and paying a $280 renewal fee. PAs can substitute a current NCCPA PA-C certification for 98 hours of CME. As PAs become more established they can benefit by networking with professional medical associations, including:

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