How to Become a Physician Assistant in Maryland
Physician assistants working in Maryland strive every day to help their patients lead healthy and productive lives. Through early detection methods, encouraging exercise, and discouraging unhealthy eating habits and smoking, PAs in the Old Line State do everything they can to prevent the four leading causes of mortality in the state: heart disease, cancer, stroke and respiratory diseases. In 2012 there were 2,230 PAs employed in Maryland, who earned an average yearly salary of $88,040. As growth in the field is projected through the future, students wanting to know more about how to become a physician assistant in Maryland can consult the following step-by-step process:
- Choose Accredited Maryland Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
- Become Licensed to Practice in Maryland
- Keep Maryland License Up-to-date
Step 1. Choose Accredited Maryland Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
Students researching potential PA degree programs can begin by ensuring they are certified by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Programs without this accreditation will not be considered by the Maryland Board of Physicians as meeting adequate requirements for licensure. Students applying for PA programs in Maryland should also already have a bachelor’s degree in any subject area. This is recommended by the Board of Physicians as well as most PA degree programs which are offered at the graduate level. Students can save time on required PA prerequisite courses by having an undergraduate major in any of the following subjects:
- Medical Assistant
Most PA programs also have admission requirements that mandate prior experience working or volunteering in a clinical setting and taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).
Step 2. Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
The $475 PANCE is available through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), and students will need to answer 300 multiple-choice questions on the human body’s major organ systems and their associated problems, evenly divided over the course of five hours. Students can register and also take practice exams for $35 on the NCCPA’s website. After passing the PANCE the NCCPA will award the credential of Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) and students should arrange to have their scores sent directly to the Maryland Board of Physicians.
Step 3. Apply to the Maryland Board of Physicians for Licensure
When applying for state licensure with the Maryland Board of Physicians, candidates must be of good moral character and at least 18 years old with the demonstrated ability to speak English. The following must also be submitted to the Board:
- Initial license fee of $225
- Application for Certification
- Demonstration of the completion of a PA degree program
- PA-C certification
- Proof of PA degree program graduation and PA-C certification may be demonstrated through the Federation Credential
- Verification Service (FCVS)
If everything goes accordingly, the process of becoming licensed takes between 2-4 weeks. However before being able to legally practice in Maryland, PAs will need to file a Delegation Agreement Form with the Board.
Step 4. Maintain the Maryland PA License
All PA Licenses expire on June 30th of odd-numbered years. Renewal forms will be mailed out 30-60 days before this date and must be returned along with a renewal fee of $196 and evidence of the completion of the required amount of continuing education (CME) requirements. PAs must have at least 50 credits of CME at the time of renewal or submit proof of a maintained NCCPA PA-C certification. Finally, before a renewal license will be issued the Maryland Office of the Comptroller must verify the PA has made all required tax and insurance payments.