How to Become a Physician Assistant in Mississippi
Mississippi physician assistants have their work cut out for them in the Magnolia State, whose adult population is more overweight, smokes more cigarettes, has higher blood pressure, and exercises less than the average American. Not surprisingly the three leading causes of death in the state – heart disease, cancer and stroke – are also well above the national average. That is where physician assistants come in. PAs help to counsel Mississippians on healthy lifestyle choices, disease prevention, and treat the maladies from which citizens suffer. Students who would like to learn more about how to become a physician assistant in Mississippi can proceed through the following steps:
- Find Accredited Mississippi Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Become Certified by the NCCPA
- Apply with the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure
- Maintain the Mississippi PA License
Step 1. Find Accredited Mississippi Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
Before searching for a PA graduate program in Mississippi students should already have their bachelor degree. These can be in any subject, and undergraduates in the following programs will have already completed a number of PA prerequisite courses:
- Medical Assistant
Most PA graduate programs also require students to have prior clinical experience and to have passed the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) with an acceptable score. Besides checking the admission requirements, it is essential that students choose a graduate program that is accredited by both of the following agencies:
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or its successors
- Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) or its successors
Step 2. National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Exam
Anyone wanting to practice as a physician assistant in Mississippi will need to pass the exam sponsored by the NCCPA: the PANCE or Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. This computer-based exam covers more than just the basics of the human organ system, comprised of 300 multiple-choice questions on subjects such as:
- Musculoskeletal system
- Health Maintenance
- Performance of physical exams
- Cardiovascular system
- Clinical intervention
Students can register for the five-hour PANCE for a fee of $475 and the NCCPA offers practice exams for $35. After passing the PANCE students will earn the Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) credential.
Step 3. Apply with the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure
Applicants can apply for a PA License online and should make sure they are able to provide the following:
- Proof of good moral character and at least 21 years old
- The NCCPA and the candidate’s PA graduate program must send proof of candidate’s credentials to the Board
- Two references from physicians with which the candidate has trained
- An explanation of any gaps in work or education history
- $550 application fee
Upon receipt of all application materials and a successful review, the candidate will be invited for an interview with the Board, must pass a background check, and must complete a jurisprudence exam that covers the basic laws and regulations of medical practice in the state.
Step 4. Maintain Licensure in Mississippi
PA Licenses must be renewed every year before June 30th when they expire. This can be accomplished online, and PAs must submit a renewal fee and proof of 50 hours of continuing medical education (CME). Producing proof of a current NCCPA certification will also satisfy the 50 hours of CME requirement. Mississippi PAs who are over the age of 70 are not obligated to pay a renewal fee.
As PAs become more established they may find it helpful to network through professional organizations such as the Mississippi Academy of Physician Assistants or the American Academy of Physician Assistants.