How to Become a Physician Assistant in Tennessee
Physician assistant positions in Tennessee are projected to increase in the near future as the state’s population over 65 will soon top one million. Coupled with the increasing demand for rural healthcare, these two circumstances are some of the principal driving forces behind the rise in PAs over the last decade, who in 2012 earned an average salary of $87,550. Those who would like more information on how to become a physician assistant in Tennessee can consult the following step-by-step guide:
- Choose Tennessee Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Become Certified by the NCCPA
- Apply for Licensure with the Tennessee Committee on Physicians Assistants
- Renew Tennessee License as Needed
Step 1. Choose Tennessee Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
As students search through the various physician assistant programs for licensure in Tennessee they will find there are some general admission requirements such as:
- Completion of the GRE (Graduate Record Exam)
- Direct patient care experience
- Prerequisite courses in:
- Any bachelor’s degree
Bachelor degrees are usually required because PA degree programs are offered at the graduate level. Recommended undergraduate majors include the following, which will help to eliminate future PA prerequisites:
- Medical Assistant
- Public Health
- Organic Sciences
Additionally, to be licensed in Tennessee, PAs need to have graduated from a degree program that is certified by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) as well as the American Medical Association’s Council on Medical Education to its Committee on Allied Education and Accreditation (CAHEA) or its successor.
Step 2. Gain Certification by the NCCPA
The NCCPA, short for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, is the agency in charge of the national test known as the PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam). Students can register for the $475 PANCE starting 90 days before they graduate from their PA degree program. The exam will cover the human body and its organ systems and is given via computer in a multiple-choice format. Students have five hours to complete 300 questions, and can take practice exams for $35 on the NCCPA’s website. Once the PANCE has been successfully passed the NCCPA will award students with the Physician Assistant-Certified credential.
Step 3. Apply for Licensure with the Tennessee Committee on Physicians Assistants
There is a $335 application fee charged to candidates who would like to be considered for licensure with the Tennessee Committee of Physician Assistants. A complete application packet will include:
- Application for Licensure
- Primary source verification of graduation from an accredited PA degree program and certification by the NCCPA
- Supervising Physician form
- Two letters of recommendation received by the Committee from medical professionals
- Practitioner Profile Questionnaire
- Criminal background check
- If authorized to prescribe, PAs should include a Controlled Substance Registration
- Declaration of Citizenship
Once all materials have been received the Committee takes an average of six weeks to issue a license.
Step 4. Renew the Tennessee PA License
Renewal is required for the Tennessee PA License every two years. The process is fairly straightforward: PAs fill out a renewal form and pay the $235 renewal fee. Renewing a license can also be completed online. As a requirement for renewal, PAs must complete 100 credits of continuing education for each two-year renewal period. This must be consistent with the NCCPA requirements for continuing medical education. Maintaining the NCCPA certification will also fulfill the continuing education requirement set forth by the State.
The Tennessee Academy of Physician Assistants (TAPA) is a resource PAs may wish to consider for obtaining information about the PA career field, networking with colleagues, and expanding a PA’s scope of practice. The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) can also be of benefit to PAs, especially for more information regarding continuing medical education.