How to Become a Physician Assistant in Ohio
The physician assistant occupational field in Ohio is projected to grow by 33 percent in the decade between 2008 and 2018. As of 2012 there were 2,070 licensed PAs working in the state earning an average salary of $89,800 and their numbers are expected to continue to expand as the Buckeye State’s over-65 population – currently 14.8 percent of the total population – increases. Those interested in pursuing a career in the field are invited to study this step-by-step guide on how to become a physician assistant in Ohio:
- Qualify for Admissions to Ohio Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Obtain the Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) Credential
- Gain Ohio State Licensure
- Renew the state PA License
Step 1. Qualify for Admissions to Ohio Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
To begin with, there are some general admission requirements for the majority of PA graduate degree programs in Ohio. These can vary from school to school, but typically include:
- Meeting a certain number of hours of direct clinical experience with patients
- Obtaining a qualifying score on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
- Having a bachelor degree in any subject. The following majors will additionally fulfill PA prerequisites:
- Medical Assistant
- Organic Chemistry
When applying for licensure with the State Medical Board of Ohio, candidates can produce either a PA graduate degree program transcript or a transcript of graduate-level courses in a field related to being physician assistant. In both cases the programs must be certified by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
Step 2. Obtain the Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) Credential
The official PA-C credential is maintained and awarded by one organization: the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). To become certified, students will have to take and successfully pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), an evaluation of the student’s knowledge of the human body’s major organ systems. Registering with the NCCPA for the PANCE costs $475 and may be done beginning 90 days from the graduation date of a student’s PA program. The PANCE is offered four times each year, and the NCCPA additionally provides practice exams for a $35 fee. On the day of the exam the student will answer 300 multiple-choice questions over the course of five hours on a computer.
Step 3. Gain Ohio State Licensure
To become registered to legally practice as a PA in Ohio, candidates will need to send an application to the State Medical Board of Ohio. A complete application packet will include:
- Application for Certificate to Practice
- One of the following:
- PA education program transcript
- PA-related graduate level coursework
- Evidence of being licensed as a PA in a different state or federal jurisdiction
- Evidence of qualifying military or other federal experience
- Evidence provided directly to the Board by the NCCPA of a PA-C credential
- Complete resume (form included with application)
- $200 application fee
- Two character references, one of whom is a physician (forms provided with application)
From the time the Board receives a complete application it usually requires 10-12 weeks for processing.
Step 4. Renew the Ohio PA License
An Ohio PA License must be renewed biannually by the 31st of January in even-numbered years. To renew his or her license, the PA must fill out a renewal application, pay a $100 renewal fee, and maintain at least 100 hours of continuing medical education (CME). The Board recognizes CME credits required to maintain NCCPA certification, which is mandated for PAs to keep if they wish to renew their Ohio license. As part of their NCCPA certification maintenance PAs must take the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) every tenth year.