Doctor's Assistant Education and Degree Program Information

Doctor's assistant, aka physician assistant, programs are typically offered in Master of Science programs. They train candidates to practice medicine under the indirect supervision of an attending physician.

Essential Information

Students in a Master of Medical Science in Physician Assisting degree program refine their observation, communication, behavioral, social and intellectual skills. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a significant emphasis on upper-level biology, one semester of chemistry, microbiology, statistics, one or more semesters of organic chemistry or biochemistry and a full year of physiology and anatomy. Other requirements for admission include letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, and a completed personal interview.

These master's programs takes about two years to complete. Most programs are split between classroom learning and clinical rotations in medical specialties. About 1,000 hours of hands-on clinical experience are generally required. After graduating, prospective physician assistants must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), which is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). A passing score qualifies the candidate for the title of Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C).

Master's Degree Programs in Physician Assisting

The classroom portion of this degree program covers theories and science of anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, clinical skills, disease studies and preventative medicine. During clinical rotations, students spend time in each medical specialty, including surgery, family medicine, internal medicine and in-patient medicine. Students observe and participate in a role similar to medical school interns.

  • Genetics
  • Geriatrics
  • Infection and immunology
  • Clinical history-taking
  • Cardiology and pulmonary medicine
  • Emergency medicine

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that employment opportunities will be exceptionally good for physician assistants during the 2014 to 2024 decade, with the number of available jobs expected to increase by 30% during this period. The median annual salary of physician assistants as of May 2015 was $98,180, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

In order to remain licensed, physician assistants must complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and pass a recertification examination or alternative training program every six years. The Master of Medical Science is this field's terminal degree.

To become a PA-C students need to complete a Master's of Medical Science in Physician Assisting degree and pass the PANCE. This master's degree program uses in-class and hands-on training to prepare students for the PANCE and certification through the NCCPA.

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