Louisiana Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

How to Become a Physician Assistant in Louisiana

Physician assistants working in Louisiana face some grim statistics when it comes to improving the lives and health of Bayou State residents. According to recent statistics, compared with the rest of the United States Louisiana ranked first in the nation for kidney disease mortality and had the highest percentage of babies born by cesarean section. It ranked second in the country for the percentage of babies born with a low birth rate, fourth for heart disease mortality and fifth for cancer mortality. As projections and these numbers indicate, there is and will be an obvious demand for more physician assistants in the state, who last year numbered 600 and earned an average salary of $75,890. Those planning for careers as a PA who are looking for more information on how to become a physician assistant in Louisiana can consult the following steps:

  1. Select Accredited Louisiana Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
  2. Take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
  3. Apply for a License to Practice in Louisiana
  4. Renew the Louisiana Physician Assistant License

Step 1. Choose Accredited Louisiana Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

Students should be aware that PA degree programs for licensure in Louisiana are at the graduate level and therefore require a bachelor degree. This can be in any subject, although science majors in biology, chemistry, and anatomy will find they have already fulfilled many key PA graduate program prerequisites. Other undergraduate programs that fulfill PA prereqs include:

  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Medical Assistant
  • Health
  • Pre-Medicine

Common admission requirements to PA programs include having previous clinical experience with direct patient contact and having taken the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). When searching for a qualified PA graduate program, students must ensure it is approved by two agencies. Without accreditation by these it is not possible to be licensed in Louisiana:

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

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

The PANCE is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) and evaluates students on their knowledge of the human body and its major organ systems. Topics covered include:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Making most-likely diagnoses
  • Clinical intervention
  • Health maintenance
  • Musculoskeletal system

There is a $475 registration fee to take the PANCE and applicants can register starting 90 days before the end of their graduate program. The test is five hours long and made up of 300 multiple-choice questions. After passing the PANCE, students will receive a nationally recognized Physician Assistant-Certified credential and should arrange for their test scores to be sent directly to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.

Step 3. Apply to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners

An application to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners will include the following:

  • Diploma from an accredited PA graduate degree program
  • Profile description
  • Notarized Oath of Affirmation and Third Party Authorization
  • $275 licensure fee
  • Character Reference by a physician known for at least six months
  • Criminal Background Check

Candidates must arrange for their PA degree program and PANCE scores to be sent by the appropriate agencies directly to the Board. From the time off successful application it takes about 90 days to receive licensure. Finally, successful candidates must be of good moral character and at least 20 years old.

Step 4. Renew the State License

PA Licenses expire at the end of every year. PAs can renew their Louisiana license by submitting:

Renewal Form
$175 renewal fee
Oath of Affirmation
Proof of current NCCPA certification (PA-C)

Maintaining NCCPA certification, also known as the PA-C credential, requires PAs to complete at least 100 credits of continuing medical education (CME) every two years and to take the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) every tenth year.

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