Montana Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

How to Become a Physician Assistant in Montana

In Montana the healthcare industry employs about 15 percent of the entire population of the Treasure State, and is one of the few industries that had no significant setbacks during the recent economic recession. Physician assistants are an essential part of this equation, who are rising to perform many of the duties traditionally allotted to regular physicians. Last year in Montana the average salary of a PA was $88,590 and these positions are projected to increase at a rate of 11 percent through the year 2021, four percent above the rate of replacement. Career-minded individuals who are interested in learning more about how to become a physician assistant in Montana can evaluate the following process:

  1. Decide on Montana Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
  2. Take the Nationally Qualifying PANCE Exam
  3. Apply for Licensure in Montana
  4. Renew the PA License

Step 1. Decide on a Montana Physician Assistant Program for Licensure

When browsing through physician assistant programs for licensure in Montana it is important to make sure the candidate can meet the admission requirements. It is also essential to confirm the PA program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Although admission requirements differ from program to program, there are some common requirements that include:

  • Having previous experience in a clinical setting
  • Passing the GRE or Graduate Record Examination
  • Possession of a bachelor degree

Having a bachelor degree in any subject is usually required by all PA graduate programs. An undergraduate subject that is science-intensive will have already covered many PA prerequisite courses, and therefore the following bachelor degree majors help to provide a smooth transition into a PA program:

  • Medical Assistant
  • Nursing
  • Health
  • Cellular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry

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

The PANCE is the culminating test students take after they graduate from their PA degree program. The exam is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), and successfully passing the PANCE means becoming certified by the NCCPA in the form of a Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) credential. The exam itself is five hours long and comprised of 300 multiple-choice questions on subjects including:

  • Task areas of:
    • Pharmaceutical therapy
    • Performing physical exams
    • Laboratory and diagnostic studies
  • Organ systems including:
    • Hematologic
    • Endocrine
    • Ear, eyes, nose, and throat
    • Cardiovascular

Students can register online and there is a fee of $475.

Step 3. Apply for Licensure in Montana

The first thing candidates should do when applying for licensure to the Montana Board of Medical Examiners is request their PA education program to send official copies of a candidate’s PA diploma directly to the Board. Next the applicant should complete an application packet, including:

  • $325 application fee
  • $25 Supervising Agreement application fee
  • National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) self-query form
  • Supervision Agreement
  • Application

Before making a judgment the Board will conduct a short interview either in-person or by phone with the PA candidate for licensure to ensure he or she is aware of the laws and regulations in the profession. It can take up to a month for a complete application to be reviewed, however once this is complete a license will usually be issued within 7-14 days.

Step 4. Renew the PA License

PAs in Montana can renew their license online. The PA License expires every two years and costs $200 to update. Along with the online renewal application, PAs will need to submit proof of a current NCCPA certification. The PA-C credential is maintained by completing 100 hours of continuing medical education (CME) ever two years, and taking the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) every tenth year.
As PAs progress in their careers they can expand their reputation and network with fellow PAs through professional organizations such as the Montana Academy of Physician Assistants (MTAPA).

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