How to Become a Physician Assistant in Nebraska
Physician assistants working in Nebraska last year made an average salary of $87,760. Across the state and the nation the occupational outlook for PAs is expected to increase over the following decade as Americans age and need more medical attention. PAs play a key role in Nebraska’s healthcare system and lend their skills to:
- Perform physical exams and take detailed medical histories
- Make initial diagnoses
- Assist in surgery
- Coordinate assistants
- Counsel patients and their families
Citizens who are interested in how to become a physician assistant in Nebraska can follow these steps:
- Research Nebraska Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Take the NCCPA Certifying Exam
- Apply with the State of Nebraska for Licensure
- Maintain PA License
Step 1. Research Nebraska Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
As a candidate researches which physician assistant programs for licensure in Nebraska are a good fit there are a few things to keep in mind. First, candidates should realize that most PA degree programs are offered at the graduate level and therefore require a bachelor’s degree in any subject and a good score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). It is also normal for these programs to require some previous clinical experience. Each PA program has its own admission requirements so it is important to examine these on an individual basis, however students who have an undergraduate degree in any of the following subjects will have already fulfilled several PA program prerequisites:
- Organic Chemistry
- Medical Assistant
It is also important for candidates to confirm that the PA degree program they choose is approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
Step 2. Take the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Exam
The NCCPA administers the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) at a variety of testing locations across the country. This exam is designed to measure a student’s knowledge of common PA practices and required skills. Students can register for the PANCE starting three months before their graduate PA program ends for a fee of $475. The test itself is computer-based, lasts five hours, and made up of 300 multiple-choice questions. The NCCPA offers practice exams on its website for a $35 fee. Once a student has successfully completed the PANCE, he or she will become a Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C).
Step 3. Apply with Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services for Licensure
As PAs prepare to apply with the Department of Health and Human Services for their license, they can begin by requesting the NCCPA to send certified proof of their PA-C to the Department. A complete application for licensure will include:
- Proof of PA degree program graduation, submitted by the applicant’s education institution
- Criminal Background Check
- Application fee of $150 ($37.50 if applying April-September in an odd-numbered year)
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence and being at least 19 years old
Step 4. Maintain the PA License
Physician Assistant Licenses expire on October 1st of odd-numbered years and may be renewed before that time for a fee of $110. PAs must also accumulate at least 50 category I continuing medical education (CME) credits approved by the Department of Health and Human Services before they can renew their license. The Department additionally requires PAs to meet the NCCPA’s re-registration requirements two years after they have completed the PANCE.
PAs will find that organizations such as the Nebraska Academy of Physician Assistants offer networking opportunities and insights into the field, and can act as a means of support and advice for career professionals.