How to Become a Physician Assistant Online

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A physician assistant (PA) is not the same as a medical assistant (MA) or a nurse practitioner. A PA works closely with a physician and has at least four years of medical training and experience.

A PA handles cases that a doctor would usually handle, except for more difficult cases. Some of the duties include patient's medical history, exams and treatments, ordering lab tests and prescribing medications.

Gain as much medical experience as possible as a nurse, emergency medical technician or other medical-related job. The experience will be helpful to you for your physician assistant classes as well as obtaining a job after graduation.

Check out a list of online accredited physician assistant programs at the American Academy of Physician Assistant website.

Complete a 2-year masters degree program, including basic medical science courses. The second year will be mostly clinical training. Many schools, such as Drexel University Online, offer these classes online.

Graduate from a school accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Then pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) before you can practice.

Get out of the house. Although many of your courses may be completed online, clinicals should be hands-on in a medical environment.


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Jeanni Brosius is an award-winning, nationally syndicated columnist, former newspaper writer/editor, speaker, internationally known author and National Public Radio commentator. She currently freelances and does the occasional voice over.