How to Become a Physician Assistant in Michigan
Michigan physician assistants stand on a firm line of defense between their patients and diseases or disorders which threaten them. Working as PAs in the Great Lakes State entails activities such as:
- Ordering tests and x-rays
- Assisting in surgery and removing casts
- Counseling patients on the use of drugs, prevention and treatment
- Updating charts and ordering therapy
- Performing physical exams
The range of skills involved in performing these tasks requires physician assistants to be intelligent, capable and empathetic. Last year PAs licensed in the state made an average salary of $90,050. Candidates who are interested in how to become a physician assistant in Michigan can note the following steps:
- Find Qualifying Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Gain NCCPA Certification
- Apply to the Michigan Task Force on Physician’s Assistants
- Renew PA License in Michigan
Step 1. Find the Right Michigan Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
Candidates shopping for the right Michigan physician assistant program for licensure should begin by ensuring two things: the program has the proper accreditation and the candidate can fulfill the program’s entry requirements. Typical admission criteria include passing the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) and having a specified number of clinical hours with direct patient interaction. All PA degree programs will have their own unique admission standards so students should research these individually. Students should also make sure they already have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, and they can avoid taking many PA program prerequisites by having an undergraduate degree in the following majors:
- Medical Assistant
- Public Health
PA degree programs must be approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Other national accreditation organizations may also be approved at the discretion of the Task Force.
Step 2. National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)
Gaining NCCPA certification is accomplished by passing the association’s Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). This is a five-hour 300 multiple-choice question exam that covers the major organ systems of the human body and their associated maladies. Registration costs $475 and the NCCPA also offers $35 practice exams to help students prepare. Once students have passed the PANCE they will become Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) and should arrange to have their scores sent directly to the Task Force.
Step 3. Licensure with the Michigan Task Force on Physician’s Assistants
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Task Force on Physician’s Assistants is in charge of reviewing the application for PA licensure. In the license application packet PAs will find an application and instructions along with a criminal background check and fingerprint request form. Applicants will also need to have their PA institution of education and NCCPA send official transcripts to the Task Force. PAs must also include a $90 application fee. Once the application is complete the licensing process usually takes between 6-8 weeks.
Step 4. Renew the Physician Assistant License
The PA’s initial license is valid for one year, and will be valid for two years with each subsequent renewal. These must be made online. Michigan recommends PAs to maintain awareness of the latest medical practices and procedures through continuing medical education or studying peer-reviewed academic material, especially for PAs working in rapidly developing fields. It can also be beneficial for PAs to maintain their NCCPA certification, especially if they ever plan to work outside the state. However, Michigan law does not requires PAs to maintain any official levels of continuing medical education for license renewal.
As PAs develop their profession and reputation they may wish to network in professional organizations such as the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA).