How to Become a Physician Assistant in Hawaii
In a state with a larger-than-average percentage of the population over 65 when compared with the nation, Hawaii’s physician assistants are projected to have their hands full in at least the near future. Helping Hawaiians treat and avoid the two leading causes of death in the state – cardiovascular problems and cancer – is not the only responsibility of physician assistants, as they work in fields ranging from pre-natal care to geriatric services. In recent years there were 190 PAs employed in Hawaii earning an average salary of $77,240. Citizens and students who are interested in how to become a physician assistant in Hawaii can follow these steps:
- Select Hawaii Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- After Graduation, Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
- Apply for a Physician Assistant License to the Hawaii Board of Medicine
- Stay Current of Certification and License
Step 1. Select the Right Hawaii Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
When deciding on the right physician assistant degree program students need to remember that to become licensed in Hawaii, their PA program needs to have two accreditations: one by the American Medical Association’s Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditations and one by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
Students interested in PA programs for licensure in Hawaii should remember that these are offered at the graduate level, and therefore require candidates to already possess a bachelor’s degree in any subject. Because PA programs also require prerequisite courses for entry, bachelor degrees in the following majors can also fulfill some of these and save time:
- Public Health
- Medical Assistant
Although each PA degree program has its own set of admission requirements, these will generally include taking the GREs (Graduate Record Examinations) and having experience working or volunteering in a clinical setting with direct patient interaction.\
Step 2. Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
The PANCE is offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), whose passing is required for certification by the Hawaii Board of Medical Examiners. The exam covers areas such as:
- Performing physical exams
- Prescribing effective medicine
- Making most-likely diagnosis
- Diagnosis/disorders in:
- Cardiovascular system
- Pulmonary system
- Gastrointestinal system
The PANCE is in a multiple-choice format consisting of 300 questions and held over the course of five hours. There is a $475 fee associated with the exam, for which people can register online. Once students have passed the PANCE they will receive a certificate and the title, Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C).
Step 3. Apply for Licensure to the Hawaii Board of Medicine
Applying to the Hawaii Board of Medicine for a Physician Assistant license requires the following:
- Completing an Application for Physician Assistant Licensure
- Arranging for PANCE scores and a Federation Discipline Report to be sent to the board
- Including either a $90 or $150 application fee, depending on license dates preferred
- Attaching a copy of a graduation certificate from a PA degree program and a Verification of Supervising Physician
Complete applications and their accompanying paperwork can be sent to the Hawaii Medical Board in Honolulu.
Step 4. Maintain Certification and License in Hawaii
The Hawaii Medical Board requires all its PAs to keep their PA-C certification up to date. This requires completing 100 continuing medical education credits every two years and taking the NCCPA’s Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) every tenth year at a cost of $350. To renew their Hawaii license, PAs need to submit their current PA-C certification, a license renewal application, and a $120 renewal fee by January 31st of even-numbered years.