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Fully-online bachelor's degree programs in physician assisting are rare to nonexistent, although some on-campus programs may permit some requirements to be completed online. Bachelor's programs in the healthcare field are rarely offered entirely online, with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences being one of the few exceptions. Clinical experience is a major component of most bachelor's programs. Some programs may have specific undergraduate coursework prerequisites.
Fully-online programs in this field of study are more readily available at the master's degree level. Most accredited physician assistant programs are, in fact, offered at the master's degree level.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physician assistants are required to be licensed in all states and must follow a specific course of education. After earning a bachelor's degree and, typically, some work experience, physician assistants complete an accredited, 2-year educational program that typically leads to a master's degree.
Physician Assistant Bachelor's Degree
Physician assistant bachelor's degree programs provide the scientific and administrative skills required to assist physicians in the clinical setting. Students explore the communication, problem-solving and critical reasoning necessary to address issues affecting patients of all ages. The challenges of working with the sick, as well as current issues affecting the practice of physician assistants are also explored.
Information and Requirements
Most institutions require bachelor's candidates to complete prerequisite coursework in the life sciences. Some schools may require students to have previous health care experience. Students also participate in internships in a clinical setting to gain practical experience in the field.
Online elective courses require reliable access to a computer with up-to-date software and hardware, as well as an Internet connection. Word processing software, such as Microsoft Word, is typically recommended, but not required.
Bachelor's students examine current issues that affect the physician assistant. They gain practical knowledge of the scientific and administrative theories that guide the discipline. Core coursework covers topics such as microbiology, biochemistry and life span development; however, bachelor's degree programs for physician assistants generally only allow for some prerequisite or elective coursework to be completed online.
Anatomy and Physiology
Students explore the organization and basic functionality of the human body through study of the 11 organ systems. The curriculum focus includes overviews of the nervous system, circulatory and respiratory systems, tissue structure, brain functionality and cellular metabolism. A detailed examination of the human life span is also included.
Principles of Chemistry
In this online course, students are provided with a top-line overview of the theoretical and practical principles of inorganic chemistry. The material in this course serves as a foundation for further study in the subject.
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program are qualified to seek a position as a licensed physician assistant under supervision of a physician. The BLS projected job growth of 30%, much faster than the average for all occupations, for physician assistants from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the BLS reported, the median annual salary of physician assistants was $98,180.
Continuing Education Information
Opportunities for further study exist in fully online and hybrid program formats. Master's degree programs provide advanced theoretical and clinical instruction, as well as prepare students to sit for the certification exam offered through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and apply for state licensure. Students are required to complete a field experience to satisfy degree requirements. Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses are available in both online and hybrid formats covering topics such as prescribing of controlled substances and pain management.
Bachelor's degree programs for physician assistants cannot be found entirely online as they typically require extensive in-person training. Students study human anatomy, physiology and the basics of chemistry, preparing them to work as licensed physician assistants.