How To Become A Physician Assistant In California 2023

how to become a physician assistant after high school
how to become a physician assistant after high school

How To Become A Physician Assistant In California: After high school, most students who want to become assistant physicians can go on to enroll in PA schools as long as they have the right requirements for such education or training and patience to finish up regardless of how long it will take. 

With an increasing shortage of primary care workers, the need for physician assistants has skyrocketed and is expected to grow by ⅓ in the next 10 years. This makes it a very lucrative profession in this age and time.

As a physician assistant in California, helps to address California’s acute primary care crisis and earn about $136,920 a year on average. 

Being one of the most applied courses today, students who enroll in a physician assistant education program take about 23 and 28 weeks to complete their program. Upon completion, you can start a career in the field effortlessly.

However, you need adequate knowledge before you venture into the field. In this guide, we have put together this piece on all you need to know to become a physician assistant in California.

Also, we have answered the question of how long it will take you to become a professional physician assistant and the schools that can train you in such. 

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ALSO READ: How to Become a Physician Assistant in 7 Easy Steps

Content Summary

Who Is A Physician Assistant?

A physician assistant literally assists the medical practitioner during any medical procedure. Physician Assistants practice medicine under the direct supervision of medical doctors and surgeons. 

What this means is that a physician assistant is not capable of independent medical practice, rather their duties and tasks are directed by a medical physician.

Generally, they are licensed to work with doctors and carry out most of the tasks which were the sole responsibility of the doctors. 

Hence why many people go on to become a physician assistants after high school because no prior training is needed at first. 

What Are The Duties of Physician Assistants?

In one word the major task of a physician assistant is to assist the medical practitioner. And depending on the supervising doctor, the duties of the physician assistant may vary daily. 

For instance, if the physician assistant is supervised by a surgeon, the physician assistant may carry out regular immunizations, perform a physical examination of patients, close incisions after surgery and monitor the patient’s condition during and after the procedure.

On the other hand, a physician assistant in a rural community healthcare center will serve as a primary healthcare provider because of the absence of or less number of licensed doctors in the community. 

Therefore, it’s safe to say that the level and extent of duties carried out by the physician assistant in California after high school will be dependent on the supervising doctor, the medical unit he/she is working in, and the location of the medical center. 

From records, assistant work may come in various forms such as;

  • Taking vital signs.
  • Performing physical exams
  • Reviewing patient medical histories
  • Prescribing appropriate medications
  • Completing insurance paperwork for patients.
  • Making a preliminary diagnosis of the patient’s condition.
  • Ordering diagnostic tests and procedures such as blood work or X-rays.
  • Conferring with doctors regarding the appropriate course of treatment
  • Providing direct care, bandaging wounds, giving immunizations, setting broken bones, and assisting in surgery.
  • Monitoring patient progress and making entries into medical charts.
  • Making house calls to those unable to leave their home or visit nursing homes to care for residents.
  • Counseling patients and their families to maintain a healthy lifestyle through nutrition, exercise, and preventative care programs.

Where Can I Physician Assistant Work After High School?

As the name implies, a physician assistant in California will find work in a hospital, public or private clinics, healthcare centers, outpatient centers,  private medical centers, and military, and government healthcare centers.

If working in a hospital, a physician assistant can work in almost all the departments of the hospital such as family medicine, pediatrics, oncology, geriatrics, and psychiatry. 

What Are The Education and Training Requirements For Assistant Physicians In California?

To become a physician assistant in California, you have to complete the necessary education requirements and possess the right skills and expertise of physicians to thrive in the profession.

A PA in California must undergo the required education for an assistant physician in an accredited school and get a license to practice as a physician assistant in California.

If you want to become a physician assistant in California after high school, you have to complete the educational requirements.  Here are the educational requirements to become a PA in California;

#1. Have A Two-Year Foundational Background In Basic Science.

One of the requirements to become a physician assistant in California is to have a foundation in basic science subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and behavioral science.

Two years of foundational coursework is the least required of all applicants. If you have a bachelor’s degree or three years of healthcare experience as a nurse or paramedic you can also enroll in the PA program in California.

#2. Complete A Two Year Physician Assistant Training Program 

A foundational two-year basic science knowledge will help you transit into the physician assistant training program easily. 

For those who want to know how long it will take to become a physician assistant, physician assistant training programs take two years to complete. To become a PA in California, you have to complete this two-year full-time study. 

#3. Earn Your Physician Assistant Certificate

On completion of your Physician Assistant training program from an accredited school, you will earn a certificate that endorses your claim of training. 

Currently, about 165 physician assistant programs are accredited. Some schools in California offer either an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s program for assistant physicians in training.

ALSO READ: Top Medical Schools in British Columbia 2023

What Courses Do Physician Assistants Study?

Physician Assistant programs are offered majorly in colleges, universities, health centers, medical schools, and hospitals. 

To become a professional physician assistant, you will have to study some medical courses some of which include;

  • Pathology
  • Pediatrics
  • Geriatrics 
  • Cardiology.
  • Family medicine
  • Human Anatomy 
  • Clinical medicine
  • Health care ethics. 
  • Human physiology
  • Emergency medicine

While studying as a physician assistant, you will have to go for hands-on training and clinical teaching in medical schools if your school has such provisions. 

Clinical training comes in rotation across many departments in the hospital so that you will be better equipped in different areas of the medical profession.

What Degrees Can I Earn To Become A Physician Assistant In California?

One of the requirements for a physician assistant to practice in California is to have a degree from an accredited university, college, or medical center.

Following the 2011 report made by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education, there are currently about 165 accredited physician assistant programs across California. 

Most of these programs focus on a particular specialization of medicine while others are general education programs for assistant physicians. 

Major education programs for assistant physicians in colleges are master’s degree programs. Some schools also offer a bachelor’s degree program for physician assistants and only a few offer an associate’s degree or certificate programs. 

You will need at least a bachelor’s degree to become a PA in California. Most entry-level jobs in California for assistant physicians are competitive, if you possess a bachelor’s degree, you stand a better chance to get the job.

However, for promotions to other high positions, you will need to increase your knowledge in the field and that is judged by the number of additional degrees you have. Therefore a master’s degree is frequently necessary for promotional opportunities and increased pay.

List Of Schools For Assistant  Education Training

Here are the best schools to enroll in to be trained to become a professional physician assistant in California;

#1. University of Southern California 

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Course Duration: 3 Years 
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0
  • PA Degree Program Offered: Not Specified

When considering the best schools for assistant physicians, you should look at the University of Southern California. The University of Southern California has produced professional physician assistants since 1972.

While studying to become a PA, the University of Southern California ensures you have accurate knowledge in family medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, inpatient internal medicine, general surgery, orthopedics, emergency medicine, and other courses. 

Also, there are clinical sessions scheduled to be taken either in the evening or during the day. 

#2. Stanford University 

  • Location: Stanford
  • Course Duration: 3.5 Years 
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: Not Specified
  • PA Degree Program Offered: Master of Science in Physician Assistant

Stanford University’s physician assistant program is regarded as one of the best PA programs in California. 

Assistant physicians at Stanford undertake courses in clinical medicine & neurosciences, histology, embryology, clinical anatomy, principles of clinical medicine, the practice of medicine, and clinical therapeutics for the first 20 months.

Following this is a 12-month clinical clerkship program in any of Stanford University’s affiliated clinical sites across California. 

To apply you must have a bachelor’s degree in any field,  CASPer test results, and at least 500 hours of clinical experience.

#3. University of California-Davis 

  • Location: Davis
  • Course Duration: 27 Months
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0
  • PA Degree Program Offered: Master of Health Services Degree

One of the physician assistant requirements in California is to undergo a series of training or education required of physicians. The University of California-Davis offers such training. 

The University of California-Davis has a 35 years track record of producing PA graduates. Training requires you to be in class from Monday to Friday and carry out clinical during the weekend.

Courses covered to become a PA in California at the University of California, Davis includes; behavioral health, pharmacology, health status & care systems, primary health care, pharmacology, applied health informatics, and advanced clinical skills. 

#4. Touro University California

  • Location: Vallejo
  • Course Duration: 3 Years 
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.9
  • PA Degree Program Offered: MSPAS/MPH

Enrolling in the Touro University California physician assistant education program will mean you will graduate with a dual degree: A master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, and a Master of Public Health.

The physician assistant program is structured with 8 semesters of coursework, 54 weeks of clinical training, and 8 weeks to complete a capstone in both PA and public health. 

Most of the courses covered include clinical medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, behavioral & social aspects of public health, epidemiology, program evaluation, etc.

#5. Western University of Health Sciences 

  • Location: Pomona
  • Course Duration: 2 Years 
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0 
  • PA Degree Program Offered: Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies 

Western University of Health Sciences is one of the best schools to train to become a physician assistant in California. 

The master’s program is a well-rounded program that requires full-time two years of study of 102-credit coursework. 

Courses covered include; medical terminology, patient-centered care, physical assessment, pathophysiology, and healthcare delivery system. 

how to become a pa in California
how to become a pa in California

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#6. California Baptist University 

  • Location: Riverside
  • Course Duration: 2 Years 
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.2
  • PA Degree Program Offered: Master of Science in Physician Assistant

California Baptist University is a faith-based school ideal for those who want to attend a religious-affiliated school. The 120 credits master’s program offered at California Baptist University is counted among the best physician assistant programs in California.

Most of the courses in the curriculum include; human anatomy, research methodology, medical microbiology, pharmacology, emergency medicine, general medicine, pediatrics, mental health, women’s health, and urgent care. 

#7. Dominican University of California 

  • Location: San Rafael
  • Course Duration: 28 months 
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0
  • PA Degree Program Offered: Master of Science in Physician Assistant 

If you are seeking outstanding education studies for Assistant physicians then you need to enroll in the Dominican University of California. 

The PA program at the Dominican University of California is structured to have 16 months of learning and 12 months of practical training through rotations.

Most of the courses offered during the program include courses focused on medical knowledge,patient-centered care, professionalism, practice-based learning & improvement, and systems-based practice. 

Graduation requires you to have completed 102 credits and to take a national PA certification exam.

#8. Southern California University of Health Sciences 

  • Location: Whittier
  • Course Duration: 2 Years 
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: Not Specified
  • PA Degree Program Offered: Master of Science in Physician Assistant 

One of the best schools that will train you to become a professional physician assistant in California is the Southern California University of Health Sciences.

In two years you will be trained to become a PA in California after taking the following courses: clinical medicine, anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology, internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, gynecology, general surgery, behavioral medicine, emergency medicine, and integrative medicine.

#9. Charles R. Drew University 

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Course Duration: 27 Months
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: Not Specified
  • PA Degree Program Offered: Master of Science in Physician Assistant 

Next on our list of schools for assisting physicians in California is Charles R. Drew University. The PA program at Charles R. Drew University is not only the state’s first physician assistant program but also one of the best. 

Most of the courses covered include pathophysiology, human anatomy, principles of emergency medicine, surgery and gynecology, surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, and behavioral medicine. 

To enroll you must have completed prerequisite courses and preferably have at least one year of direct patient-care experience.

#10. Loma Linda University

  • Location: Loma Linda
  • Course Duration: 24 Months 
  • Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0
  • PA Degree Program Offered: Master of Science in Physician Assistant

Loma Linda University offers assistant physicians quality education to start a career as a PA in California. The program trains students on the demands of the state’s healthcare delivery system.

In 24 months the physician assistant program will take students across various domains of healthcare. The first 12 months require you to complete 76 credits and the second 12 months are scheduled for 52 credits of clinical training.

To enroll, you must have completed at least 2000 hours of direct patient-care experience.

Other schools Include:

  • Samuel Merritt University – Oakland
  • University of La Verne – La Verne
  • University of the Pacific – Stockton
  • Chapman University – Orange
  • Marshall B. Ketchum University – Fullerton
  • California State University – Monterey Bay – Seaside

ALSO READ: 15+ Medical Schools That Don’t Require MCAT in Canada 2023

Do I Need a License To Become A Physician Assistant In California?

Yes, you will need a license to become a PA in California. Without a license, assistant physicians cannot practice in California as well as other states, including the District of Columbia. 

To gain a license to practice as PA in California, you must

What Is The Physician Assistant National Certification Examination?

The Physician Assistant National Certification Examination PANCE is a license examination required of all assistant physicians who want to practice in California as well as other states of the USA. 

Usually, the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination is a multiple-choice exam that tests a student’s basic medical and surgical knowledge. 

To write the exam you must submit an application to write exam, pay in advance and choose Pearson-Vue testing sites.

How Much Do PA in California Earn?

Below is a chart that shows the median salary range of Physician Assistants in select California cities:

  • Fresno    $106,324
  • Los Angeles    $119,450
  • Sacramento    $114,696
  • San Diego    $114,088
  • San Francisco    $132,958

Conclusion

We hope you found this piece enlightening and helpful on your journey to become a physician assistant. We implore you to visit the website of these schools for details on the requirements to study and become a physician assistant in California.

Follow us on Facebook and YouTube Channel for more information about academic-related content that will help you make informed decisions on your academic journey.

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