Best Physician Assistant (PA) Schools In Alaska, 2021

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Best Physician Assistant (PA) Schools In Alaska, 2021

Physician assistants are essential members of the health care team in many hospitals and clinical practices. And a career as a physician assistant is definitely a promising one in the USA. So, if you’ve made up your mind to pursue a career in the PA profession especially in Alaska, here is what you need to know about physician assistant programs and schools there.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of physician assistants is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

This is because as the demand for healthcare services grows, physician assistants will be needed to provide care to patients.

In the same vein, as the need for PAs continues to increase, more programs and schools keep opening up across the country (both on-campus and online). 

So, this article will give the necessary information you need about the PA profession in Alaska – from the programs, to salaries to job outlooks. You will also get to know more about the physician assistants, what the do and how to become one.

Here is a breakdown of what to expect:

Who is a Physician Assistant?

In very simple terms, a physician assistant is a medical professional who operates under a doctor’s supervision. Also known as PAs, they practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers.

Generally, physician assistants are integral members of the health care team in many hospitals and clinical practices.

What Does A Physician Assistant Do?

Below are the major duties of a PA as outlined by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Taking or reviewing patients’ medical histories.
  • Examining patients.
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, such as x rays or blood tests.
  • Diagnosing a patient’s injury or illness
  • Giving treatment, such as setting broken bones and immunizing patients
  • Educating and counseling patients and their families—for example, answering questions about how to care for a child with asthma
  • Prescribing medicine.
  • Assessing and recording a patient’s progress.
  • Researching the latest treatments to ensure the quality of patient care.
  • Conducting or participating in outreach programs, talking to groups about managing diseases, and promoting wellness.

How to Become a Physician Assistant – PA?

Typically to become a physician assistant, you need a master’s degree from an accredited educational program. And earning that degree usually takes at least 2 years of full-time postgraduate study.

With this, physician assistant graduate school applicants typically have experience caring directly for patients.

Furthermore, all states require physician assistants to be licensed. To become licensed, you must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Basically, a physician assistant who passes the exam may use the credential “Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C).”

However, it is important to note that to keep their certification, physician assistants must complete 100 hours of continuing education every 2 years. The recertification exam is required every 10 years.

Below is a step by step procedure you must follow to become a Physician Assistant:

  • Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Earn a Master’s Degree
  • Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
  • Consider Additional Certification or Board Certification
  • Maintaining Certification

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Basically, to gain admission to a graduate program, aspiring PAs need to have a qualifying bachelor’s degree. Although some graduate schools accept a bachelor’s degree in any subject, the degree must be in a relevant area. For instance, degrees in health science or nursing provides ideal preparation for a PA graduate program.

Also, students typically need undergraduate coursework in biochemistry, organic chemistry, immunology, pathophysiology, genetics, and molecular or cellular biology for admission to a PA master’s program.

Earn a Master’s Degree

As said earlier, a bachelor’s degree is a basic requirement for an ARC-PA-accredited physician assistant master of science in medicine program.

Typically, a master’s degree in a PA program usually requires 147 credit hours and takes seven semesters of full-time study to complete.

Here, students typically take 15 weeks of didactic science courses on topics like medical ethics, clinical radiology, and introduction to obstetrics and gynecology.

Also, after completing coursework, learners finish eight, six-week clinical rotations in areas such as family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral and mental health, and general surgery.

Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)

Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)

On graduation, prospective PAs qualify to take the PANCE. Basically, the exam covers organ systems and disorders, diseases, and assessments. In fact, medical content comprises 95% of the exam.

As an examinee, you have just six attempts to pass the PANCE in six years. And upon passing the exam as a PA, you must secure a state license to practice.

Consider Additional Certification or Board Certification

Consider Additional Certification or Board Certification

After obtaining licensure as a PA, you may decide to earn specialty or board certification to improve your knowledge and skills as well as advance your careers.

Basically, PAs can specialize in areas like cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, hospital medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, and orthopedic surgery.

However, to earn a specialty certification as a PA, you must meet continuing education requirements in their specialty, and receive support from a physician in addition to your licensure and specialty experience.

Maintaining Certification

Maintaining Certification

In order to maintain your certification as a physician assistant, you have to earn at least 100 continuing education credits every two years.

You must also pass the PANCE during year 10 of their recertification cycle.

However, it is important to note that PAs who do not pass the PANCE on their first attempt may take the exam up to three more times.

Why Study Physician Assistant PA In Alaska?

Studying your PA program in Alaska will be a good opportunity for you to start your career in the state. In terms of employment, Alaska has an employment RSE of 11.4% for Physician assistants.

To be more precise, Alaska has the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients and is also among the top-paying states in the USA for the PA profession.

How Much Does a Physician Assistant (PA) In Alaska Earn?

According to the US BLS, the annual mean wage of a physician assistant in Alaska is $128,530. That is to say, a PA in Alaska earns an hourly mean wage of $61.79.

What Is the Job Outlook Of Physician Assistant In Alaska?

From the US BLS, there are about 470 employed Physicians in Alaska with 1.49 employment per 1000 jobs. In fact, according to the statistics, Alaska has the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in this occupation.

What are the Requirements for PA Programs in Alaska?

To enroll for a PA program in an accredited school, applicants are to meet the following requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree in a relevant area such as health science or nursing.
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a minimum 3.25 GPA in science-related courses.
  • Also, a minimum score of 300 on the GRE.

Aside from the following requirement, prospective PA students are to meet up with some subject prerequisites.

PA School Prerequisites

PA school requirements vary with every program, so it can be overwhelming to decide what classes to take.

However, here is a list of science prerequisites almost guaranteed to be required by all PA programs:

  • General Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology

In addition, most PA schools require you to take the following non-science prereqs as well:

  • English
  • Statistics
  • Psychology

How Long Does it Take to Complete a PA Program in Alaska?

Just like in other states in the USA, it takes about 2 years to complete a master’s degree in a PA program in Alaska.

Which Body is in Charge of the Accreditation Physician Assistant – PA Programs?

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) is an independent accrediting body authorized to accredit qualified PA educational programs leading to the professional credential, Physician Assistant (PA). 

Basically, ARC-PA protects the interests of the public and PA profession by defining the standards for PA education and evaluating PA educational programs within the territorial United States to ensure their compliance with those standards.

Note that the ARC-PA does not accredit any academic degree awarded by the sponsoring institution of the PA program.

Schools that offer the Best Physician Assistant – PA Programs in Alaska

Currently, there are no campus locations in Alaska that offer ARC-PA-accredited physician assistant programs. However, students can select from accredited online programs.

In addition to this, some accredited PA schools partner universities in Alaska to train physician assistants (PAs) for Alaska’s communities.

Some of the schools in Alaska that offer these PA programs are:

  • University of Alaska Anchorage

The University of Alaska Anchorage – UAA

The University of Alaska in partnership with the University of Washington MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant Program has developed this two-year program in response to the need for practitioners in rural and underserved communities.

In fact, the MEDEX Northwest has been training physician assistants (PAs) for Alaska’s communities since 1972.

Basically, the MEDEX training model creates opportunities for second-career students with prior health care experience (e.g. community health aides and practitioners, etc) to move up into the health care practitioner role.

In line with this, to enroll for the MEDEX program, you are required to have significant health care experience prior to application.

The MEDEX PA program consists of a first-year classroom lecture and clinical rotations throughout Alaska and the Northwest region in the second year.

On completion of the MEDEX PA program, students are eligible to sit for the National Certifying Examination for Physician Assistants.

It is also important to note that the University of Washington School of Medicine also grants a Physician Assistant Certificate upon successful completion of this PA program.

In addition, students accepted into the MEDEX PA program, also have the option of getting a bachelor’s degree through UAA or UW. 

Some Physician Assistant Association

Here are some physician assistant association you can join as a PA in the USA. Do well to click on each of them to learn more about them.

FAQs On Best Physician Assistant (PA) Schools In Alaska, 2021Who is a Physician Assistant?

A physician assistant is a medical professional who operates under a doctor’s supervision. Also known as PAs, they basically practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers.

How can I become a Physician Assistant?

Typically to become a physician assistant, you need a master’s degree from an accredited educational program.

Upon graduation, from an ARC-PA-accredited physician assistant master’s program, future PAs qualify to take the PANCE as well as earn licensure from their state to practice.

Which body accredits Physician Assistant (PA) programs In Alaska?

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) is an independent accrediting body authorized to accredit qualified PA educational programs leading to the professional credential, Physician Assistant (PA). 

How Long Does it Take to Complete a PA Program in Alaska?

Just like in other states in the USA, it takes about 2 years to complete a master’s degree in a PA program in Alaska.

How Much do Physician Assistants in Alaska Earn?

The annual mean wage of a physician assistant in Alaska is $128,530. That is to say, a PA in Alaska earns an hourly mean wage of $61.79.

What is the Job Outlook of Physician Assistant in Alaska?

From the US BLS, there are about 470 employed Physicians in Alaska with 1.49 employment per 1000 jobs. In fact, according to the statistics, Alaska has the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in this occupation.

What are the Requirements for PA School in Alaska?

1. A bachelor’s degree in a relevant area such as health science or nursing.
2. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a minimum 3.25 GPA in science-related courses.
3. A minimum score of 300 on the GRE.

Conclusion

The importance of the physician assistant in the medical team cannot be overemphasized. This is evident in the job outlook for the profession.

To become a PA, you need a master’s degree from an accredited educational program and also obtain licensure on graduation.

Although there are no campus locations in Alaska that offer ARC-PA-accredited physician assistant programs, there is is an affiliate PA program at the University of Alaska. Also, students can select from accredited online PA programs.

On the other hand, despite the absence of PA schools in Alaska, a career as a physician assistant there is definitely a promising one.

I hope this article helps you in your decision making.

Good Luck And Success!!!

References

  • US BLS – Occupational Outlook Handbook For Physician Assistants
  • Learnhowtobecome – How to Become a Physician Assistant: PhSysician Assistant Programs and Careers
  • ARC-PA – About the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant

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