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Finding Quality PA Programs

For those interested in becoming a PA, or physician assistant, getting the right education is going to be the most important component to your success. While having the drive to be successful and the desire to help patients are both vital, the key to advancing in this career path is to choose the right PA program.

How do you tell the best PA programs from those that should be left alone? Here are a few of the more important factors for you to consider prior to enrolling in a physician assistant program.

  • Program reputation: All students need to consider the reputation of their education provider. For instance, those choosing a college for academic study need to ensure that the school they choose has a reputation for academic excellence, rather than being a “party” school. The same is true with PA programs. You need to ensure that the program you choose is reputable and has a history of graduates going on to be successful in their chosen career.
  • Number of programs offered: One of the better ways to ensure that you are choosing from among PA programs that offer quality education is to consider the number of other medical courses they offer. A quality education provider will offer a range of medical courses, from registered nursing programs to medical assisting and everything in between. A provider that offers only one or two won't be the best choice for your needs, and you should think twice before enrolling.
  • Meeting state requirements: You also need to ensure that any PA programs you are considering adhere to your state’s specific requirements. You will have to pass your state’s licensing examination after graduating from the course before you can become a practicing physician assistant, so make sure that the program follows your state’s guidelines. While most states have similar requirements for physician assistants, they are not identical, and you might find that the program you are considering is based on another state’s licensing requirements and is not specific to yours.
  • Consider the cost: Finally, you need to consider the cost of attending any PA programs you are considering. Tuition costs vary drastically from one program to another here. However, choosing the lowest priced school might not be the best solution. You need to make sure that the tuition is reasonable, but that the education provided is on par with the rest of the industry.

NEXT IN SERIES >>> Physician's assistant schools

References and resources

The Mayo School of Health Sciences offers a popular physician assistant program.

University of Alabama at Birmingham provides a physician's assistant path.

Medical University of South Carolina offers a MS in physician assistant studies.

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