How to Become a Physician Assistant in New Jersey
A recent United Health Foundation study found New Jersey had high rates of preventable hospitalizations and its residents had a higher prevalence of sedentary lives than most Americans. These are statistics that Garden State physician assistants would no doubt agree with, as the majority of them work in hospitals and private physician practices across the state where they see these statistics manifested. New Jersey’s PAs are on the front line of confronting statewide health issues and play an active role in educating their patients about the benefits of exercise and preventative care. PAs additionally conduct physical exams, assist in operations, and make preliminary diagnoses. Candidates interested to know more about how to become a physician assistant in New Jersey can review the following step-by-step process:
- Research Accredited New Jersey Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
- Apply for a New Jersey Physician Assistant License
- Maintain the PA License
Step 1. Research Accredited New Jersey Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
When researching PA programs for licensure in New Jersey students should already have a bachelor degree in any subject area. This is because most PA programs across the state are at the graduate level and require an undergraduate education. Having a background in the organic sciences or any of the following subjects can additionally save students time taking PA prerequisite classes:
- Medical Assistant
- Public Health
Students should additionally have obtained a suitable score on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), have clinical experience working directly with patients, and choose a PA program that is approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Graduation from a program with this accreditation is required for anyone who wants to work as a licensed PA in New Jersey.
Step 2. Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) sponsors its flagship PANCE, a nationally certifying exam. Upon passing the PANCE students will have earned the title Physician Assistant-Certified, or PA-C. This will allow students to make a complete application for licensure to the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners. Students can register for the PANCE starting 90 days from the end of their PA degree program and can start preparing with practice exams offered on the NCCPA’s website for $35. The exam itself covers the major organ systems of the body and their afflictions. It is formatted as a multiple-choice computer-based test comprised of 300 questions spanning five hours. There is a $475 registration fee for the PANCE.
Step 3. Apply for PA Licensure with the State Board of Medical Examiners
It is essential that PAs submit complete applications to the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners in Newark. A complete application packet will include:
- Explanation of any CV gaps
- Notarized copy of original citizenship documents
- Official copy of PA degree program diploma and transcripts sent directly to the Board by the education institution
- Transcripts from any additional colleges or universities attended
- High school diploma and transcripts
- $125 application fee
- Authorization for a criminal background check
- PANCE scores should be sent directly to the Board by the NCCPA
Applicants should note that before they request any documents to be sent to the Board by third parties they should first confirm their initial application packet and fee have been accepted. From the time a complete application has been received candidates can expect to wait between 8-12 weeks for their PA License.
Step 4. Maintain the New Jersey PA License
A New Jersey PA License must be renewed every 24 months. PAs are required to obtain 50 continuing medical education (CME) credits every two years when they renew their licenses. Although proof of this is not required to be submitted to the board with a license renewal application, CMEs are checked by random audit and if requested, PAs must submit proof of these.
Last year in New Jersey licensed PAs made an average annual salary of $99,940. As they expand their practice and become established, physician assistants may find support and networking advantages by joining a professional organization such as the New Jersey State Society of Physician Assistants (NJSSPA).