How to Become a Physician Assistant in Massachusetts
Last year the average physician assistant salary in Massachusetts was $86,440- a number that is expected to increase along with the statewide demand for qualified applicants to fill a growing number of positions. Physician assistants are an important part of the state’s healthcare system who are there at the beginning and end of life. Recent statistics show that 70 percent of the state’s mortalities occurred in an environment where a PA was present- either a hospital or nursing home. Those interested in making a positive difference in the quality of life for others can follow this informative guide on how to become a physician assistant in Massachusetts:
- Discover Accredited Massachusetts Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Become Nationally Certified
- Apply for a License with the State
- Stay Current on the License
Step 1. Discover Accredited Massachusetts Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
The first important thing to look for when searching for a PA degree program in the Bay State is its accreditation. To be licensed in the State of Massachusetts students need graduate from a PA program that is approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). This is a requirement set by the state Physician Assistant Board and the agency responsible for national accreditation.
The second important consideration is program admission requirements. Generally PA programs will require previous clinical experience and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Any bachelor degree is also required by most PA degree programs – and is required for state licensing – and having one in the following subjects will also help to eliminate PA prerequisite courses:
- Public Health
- Medical Assistant
Step 2. Become Nationally Certified
Required by Massachusetts and most all other states, the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) is offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) to students starting three months before graduation from their PA degree program. The exam covers the diseases and disorders associated with the body’s major organ systems, and the NCCPA offers practice exams for $35. Details about the PANCE include:
- Online registration
- $475 application fee
- 300 multiple-choice questions
- Five-hour time limit
Upon successful completion of the PANCE students will gain the PA-C or Physician Assistant-Certified credential.
Step 3. Apply for a State License
The full Application Packet for Licensure as a PA in Massachusetts is 13 pages long and should be submitted to the Board of Registration of Physician Assistant in Boston. In addition to the application itself, a complete package will include:
Official signed and sealed transcripts from a student’s PA degree program
- Proof of a bachelor’s degree
- Authorization for the NCCPA to release to the Board official PANCE scores
- Criminal Record form
- $225 application fee
Though not required for licensure, before beginning their practice PAs must also submit to the Board a Supervising Physician form and Work Setting Information form, both of which are included in the application packet. Once all materials have been received PAs should receive their license in about 2-3 weeks.
Step 4. Renew the Massachusetts PA License
PA Licenses in Massachusetts can be renewed online here and cost $150. They are good for two years and should be renewed by March 1st to avoid late fees. PAs must also have completed 100 credits of continuing medical education (CME) by the time of their renewal. It is important to review the exact CME requirements long before it is time to renew. PAs may choose to keep their NCCPA certification maintained and doing this can fulfill most of the state-required CME credits.
As their careers progress, PAs may find it beneficial to network with professional physician assistant organizations in the state, such as the Massachusetts Association of Physician Assistants (MAPA).