How to Become a Physician Assistant in Texas
In 2012 there were 4,820 physician assistants working in Texas earning an average annual salary of $99,040. Both these figures are projected to grow in the coming decade as the Lone Star State’s baby boomers continue to age and both rural and urban demand for PAs broadens. When they are not saving lives PAs are educating their patients on healthy living, ordering preventative and diagnostic tests, and performing physical examinations or assisting with surgery. Citizens and students interested in working hard to make a lasting contribution to their local communities can learn from this guide about how to become a physician assistant in Texas:
- Meet the Admissions Requirements for Texas Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Take the PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam)
- Apply for Licensure to the Texas Physician Assistant Board
- Maintain Texas Licensure
Step 1. Admission Requirements for Texas Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
Choosing a qualified Texas physician assistant program for licensure can seem like a daunting task but in reality students need only to make sure the program has the proper accreditation and that they can meet the its admission standards. The typical student in a Texas PA degree program has:
- Years of experience in the healthcare field
- Acceptable GPA and GRE (Graduate Record Examination) test scores
- Bachelor’s degree in any subject; the following will fulfill several PA prerequisites:
- Medical Assistant
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), must accredit all PA programs in Texas in order for their graduates to be eligible to be licensed in the state.
Step 2. Take the PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam)
The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is in charge of the PANCE, the national exam all Texas PAs must pass to be able to apply for licensure in the state. The PANCE is taken on a computer in a testing center over the course of five hours. Subjects covered include the major organ systems and the diagnosis of their associated problems, and knowledge of these is evaluated through 300 multiple-choice questions. Starting 90 days before their PA degree program ends, students can pay a $475 fee and register for the PANCE on the NCCPA’s website. Upon passing the exam the NCCPA will issue a Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) credential to successful students.
Step 3. Apply to the Texas Physician Assistant Board
To become legally able to practice as a physician assistant in Texas, candidates will need to apply to the State Medical Board’s Physician Assistant Board. A complete application can be made online where candidates can also pay a $205 fee. Supporting documents that will need to be mailed to the PA Board include:
- Copy of passport or birth certificate
- Copy of PA diploma
- Dean’s Certificate to be sent from the applicant’s PA program as verification of graduation
- Any government-issued official documents showing alternate names, if applicable
- Copy of DD 214 if applicants have served in the military
Applicants will also need to complete a $61 Texas PA Jurisprudence Examination, for which the PA Board provides a helpful study guide. Applications will be reviewed once they are judged to be complete. If successful, applicants will receive a temporary license until the PA Board meets – which happens three times a year – and determines the applicant is eligible for a permanent PA License.
Step 4. Maintain the PA License in Texas
PA Licenses need to be re-registered on an annual basis in Texas. This can be accomplished online or through a paper form for an extra $50 charge. The first registration is prorated and ranges between $133.75 and $319.38. Subsequent registrations are currently $253.50. When paying online there is a 2.4 percent surcharge added to the total.
PAs must also maintain at least 40 hours of continuing medical education every year. The Texas Academy of Physician Assistants (TAPA) provides information about continuing education, networking opportunities, and the latest advancements in the field. PAs often find these types of professional organizations to be both informative and beneficial.