How to Become a Physician Assistant in Wisconsin
Physician assistants play an increasingly vital role in Wisconsin’s healthcare industry, stepping more and more into roles traditionally held by doctors and filling the growing demand for medical personnel in urban and especially rural communities. 35 percent of Wisconsin physician assistants are between the ages of 25-34, and an additional 44 percent are between the ages of 35-54. As baby boomers in the Badger State continue to age the projected demand for PAs continues to increase. The leading specialties of Wisconsin PAs are:
- Primary Care: 35.7%
- Surgical Subspecialties: 22.7%
- Internal Medicine Subspecialties: 12.4%
- Emergency Medicine: 12.2%
Current and former students who are interested in a challenging and rewarding career in the medical field can follow this step-by-step guide on how to become a physician assistant in Wisconsin:
- Assess Wisconsin Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
- Take the NCCPA’s Certifying Exam
- Apply for Licensure with the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board
- Renew the Wisconsin License as Needed
Step 1. Assess Wisconsin Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure
The amount of information about available Wisconsin physician assistant programs for licensure can be helpful but also overwhelming. Two essential things potential students should consider are a program’s accreditation and admission requirements. To be eligible for licensure by the State Medical Examining Board, PA programs must be certified by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or its successor.
PA program admission requirements usually include having a good grade point average, a certain amount of hours of hands-on clinical experience, and a bachelor degree in any field. Because PA prerequisite courses are science-intensive, having a bachelor degree in any of the following majors will have already eliminated some prereqs:
- Medical Assistant
Step 2. Take the NCCPA’s Certifying Exam
The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) is the supervising agency of the exam whose passage grants the credential, Physician Assistant-Certified: the PANCE, or Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. This evaluates a student’s knowledge about diagnosing and treating ailments with the human body’s major organ systems. The PANCE is multiple-choice, given on a computer at an approved testing location, and comprised of 300 questions which must be answered within a time span of five hours. Students can register for the exam beginning three months before their PA degree program ends for a fee of $475.
Step 3. Apply for Licensure with the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board
The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board is responsible for reviewing and approving all applicants for PA licensure in the state. A complete application includes:
- Certificate of Education to be sent to the Board directly from the candidate’s PA education program
- Request for PANCE scores to be sent directly to the Board by the NCCPA
- Addendum to Application
- Application for Licensure
- $150 application fee
- 85% or better on the open-book exam over the Wisconsin Statutes and Administrative Code
Complete application packets should be sent to the Department of Safety and Professional Services in Madison. After being licensed a PA will need to submit a Change in Supervising Physician form.
Step 4. Renew the Wisconsin PA License
PA Licenses are on a biannual renewal schedule, expiring after October 31st of odd-numbered years. There is a $141 fee and licenses can be renewed through a paper application or online. Professional organizations such as the Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants (WAPA) can provide support and other resources to PAs as they become more established in their local practice. Last year PAs in Wisconsin earned an average salary of $96,360.