Aspiring physician assistants in Florida can earn a 2-year (approximate) master's degree from four universities and a 2-year associate's degree from one community college. Graduates from any of these programs are eligible to take the certification licensure examination to become a physician assistant. Those enrolled in the master's degree programs also earn a physician assistant certificate. The curricula include extensive clinical rotations and laboratory work.
Admission to these programs is usually competitive. Some of the criteria sought include healthcare or research work experience, letters of reference, prerequisite coursework in general education and natural sciences and minimum GPA of 2.5. A bachelor's degree is required for the master's degree programs.
Miami-based students can apply to the physician assistant program at this university in order to earn a master's degree. Some of the admission requirements include having a bachelor's degree, completing prerequisite coursework and taking the GRE. Admitted students can expect to spend about 2 years completing the curriculum.
From the start of the program, students are required to have laptops in order to keep up with the program's technical standards. The first year consists mainly of classes like patient evaluations, pharmacology and pathophysiology. The second year is made up of rotations in medical specialties that include geriatrics, women's health and surgery. Students also complete an elective rotation that allows them to choose a medical specialty they're most interested in. They also must complete a research paper.
Keiser University - Fort Lauderdale
In Fort Lauderdale, students can enroll at this school to earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree. The program admits 40 students each year. To be considered for admission, applicants must earn bachelor's degrees, achieve minimum GPAs, complete prerequisite classes and take the GRE. Additionally, candidates should have healthcare experience that includes volunteering and job shadowing of a physician assistant.
The 2-year program starts out with a year of lectures and labs where students may study medical journals and specific medical cases. Courses may cover microbiology, patient diagnosis and healthcare promotion. The remaining year is spent performing clinical rotations in urban and rural settings. While conducting their rotations, students may work in medical areas like family medicine and emergency care. A research project is also required.
Miami Dade College
Individuals who want to earn an associate's degree in the physician assisting field can find one at this college in Miami. However, admission to this program is competitive; more than 600 people apply each year, and 45-50 applicants are accepted. To be considered, applicants must first complete all general education classes and science-based classes with a sufficient GPA and submit 3 reference letters. Additionally, having recent healthcare experience is encouraged, and preference is given to Florida residents.
Due to the intense, full-time commitment required, students are dissuaded from maintaining employment during the 2 years it takes to complete this program. The curriculum is divided into a year of coursework and a year of clinical work. First-year students take classes covering pharmacology, human disease and surgical procedures. During the second year, students participate in clerkships that focus on a different area of medicine, such as pediatrics and surgery. The school also offers an Associate in Arts in Pre-Physician Assistant.
Nova Southeastern University
In addition to its Fort Lauderdale location, Nova Southeastern University also offers its physician assistant program at 3 other Florida locations: Fort Myers, Orlando and Jacksonville. While the physician assistant program at each location is ARC-PA-accredited, some variations among the programs may exist. To apply to the Ft. Lauderdale program, applicants must earn bachelor's degrees, complete prerequisite classes satisfactorily, take the GRE and submit recommendation letters. The program may also give priority to applicants with direct patient care experience, though this experience is optional.
Students accepted to the Fort Lauderdale program must commit 27 months to completing the program. The first 15 months are spent completing courses like microbiology and pharmacology. The clinical portion takes 1 year to complete; students may work in various healthcare facilities to learn about medical specialties like surgery and internal medicine. After each rotation, students may participate in coursework, seminars and testing relating to the medical specialty.
University of Florida
Gainesville's University of Florida offers a master's program in physician assistant studies. Admission into the program requires that applicants first earn bachelor's degrees and take prerequisite classes, including chemistry and medical vocabulary. Applicants can give themselves a competitive edge by completing additional science-based classes and obtaining at least 1 year of hands-on patient care experience.
It takes a full 2 years to complete the program. The first year is the didactic phase and requires students to participate in lectures and laboratory classes. Coursework may cover topics like patient diagnosis and medical problem-solving. The second year consists of 12 rotations in pediatrics, intensive care and more.
Before a physician assistant can obtain employment, he or she must obtain licensure. The Florida Council on Physician Assistants (FCPA) regulates licensure for physician assistants practicing in the state. Among the eligibility requirements for licensure are completing a physician assistant degree program and passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), which is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.
To sit for the exam, individuals must first complete a physician assistant program or surgeon assistant program that is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Continuing education is required to recertify. All of these programs are ARC-PA-accredited.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Physician Assistant Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)|
|Barry University||4-year university; private; nonprofit; large suburb||Master of Clinical Medical Science||$17,820*|
|Keiser University - Fort Lauderdale||4-year university; primarily associate's; private; nonprofit; midsized city||Master of Science in Physician Assistant||$22,820*|
|Miami Dade College||4-year college; primarily associate's; public; large city|| Associate in Arts in Pre-Physician Assistant,
Associate in Science in Physician Assistant
|$2,834 in-state, $9,661 out-of-state*|
|Nova Southeastern University||4-year university; private; nonprofit; large suburb||Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies||$17,454*|
|University of Florida||4-year university; public; midsized city||Master of Physician Assistant Studies||$12,737 in-state; $29,302 out-of-state (graduate)*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.