Iowa Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

How to Become a Physician Assistant in Iowa

Iowa physician assistants make diagnoses and prescribe treatment plans to combat traditional ailments like cancer and heart disease, while at the same time being on the lookout for new health menaces like Avian or Swine Flu strains and West Nile virus. Besides intervening against diseases, PAs also play an important role in preventative treatments. As Iowa’s population ages the demand for healthcare professionals is projected to increase. Last year there were 830 licensed PAs practicing in Iowa earning an average salary of $87,820 per year. Those interested in careers in the field can learn more about how to become a physician assistant in Iowa in the following steps:

  1. Find an Accredited PA Degree Program
  2. Take the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Exam
  3. Apply for Licensure in Iowa
  4. Stay Certified

Step 1. Find Accredited Iowa Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

When researching Iowa physician assistant programs for licensure students should be aware of some common admission requirements. As PA degree programs are at the graduate level, most require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and prior clinical experience with direct patient interaction. Already having a bachelor degree is essential, and an undergraduate study in the organic sciences helps to reduce PA prerequisites. Bachelor degrees in the following majors allow for a smoother transition into PA programs:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Nursing
  • Health
  • Chemistry
  • Biology

Students need to consider another important factor when shopping for a PA program, and that is whether it meets the accreditation standards set by the Iowa Board of Physician Assistants. All programs must be approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) in order for the State Board to grant a license.

Step 2. Pass the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Exam

The NCCPA sponsors the exam which gives students the national certification credit of Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C). The Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) is a 300-question multiple-choice test held over the course of five hours that tests students on their knowledge of organ systems and their disorders. This includes areas such as:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Pulmonary system

Students can register for the exam 90 days before their PA degree program ends and will also need to pay a $475 registration fee. Once the PANCE has been successfully passed students have earned their PA-credential, they should arrange for an official copy of this to be sent directly to the Iowa Board of Physician Assistants as part of an application.

Step 3. Apply to Practice as a PA with the Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure

Finally students can apply for their PA License by sending the following documents to the Board of Physician Assistants, Professional Licensure Division in Des Moines:

  • Application Form
  • $120 application fee
  • PA degree program official transcript copies, sent directly from the institution
  • Copy of NCCPA certification (PA-C) sent directly from the agency
  • Documentation from the Federation Credentials Verification Service (FCVS) may be substituted for official copies of the PA degree program and NCCPA certification
  • Notification of the identity of a supervising physician

Step 4. Maintain Certification

Practicing physician assistants can renew their license online or by submitting a paper renewal form. Renewing costs $120 and a PA license expires on September 30th every two years. Besides the renewal application, PAs need to submit proof of 100 continuing medical education (CME) credits. These can be obtained through approved courses in Iowa and this requirements may also be fulfilled if PAs keep their NCCPA PA-C credential up to date which involves a similar process. PAs may find that as their career develops, networking is both fulfilling and helpful to their practice. There are several Iowa professional associations in the field, such as:

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