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Becoming a Physician Assistant in Arkansas

Arkansas Physician Assistants, also known as (PA), perform a variety of tasks and duties associated with helping a surgeon or physician.  The physician assistant will work with a licensed surgeon or doctor by performing work associated with their particular needs and will provide an array of services depending on the type of medical practice or the particular facility the physician assistant chooses to work with. 

Physician assistants may provide assistance by administering casts, splints, suturing, therapeutic, diagnostic or preventative.  Arkansas physician assistants will also examine patients, diagnose and treat patients, gather medical history, order x-rays, counsel patients, order medical supplies and equipment and prescribe medications, all while under direct supervision from the licensed doctor or surgeon. 

Ultimately, for Arkansas physician assistants the responsibilities are governed and determined by Arkansas state law and the licensed and supervising physician.  

Steps to Become a Physician Assistant in Arkansas

For those interested in knowing how to become a Physician Assistant in Arkansas there are a variety of ways to obtain proper training and education.  Arkansas requirements are to complete an accredited formal training or education program and ultimately pass the licensing national exam.  Some prerequisites may vary for admission into such programs but in most cases student’s posses a college degree or experience in a health care related field. 

Step 1:  Research the Physician Assistant career path options
It is imperative that aspiring Physician Assistants understand exactly what is involved in this career choice.  There are many paths one may choose and typically require full-time attendance and rigorous training. 

Step 2:  Obtain as much medical experience you can.
Before you apply to a physician assistant program it is recommended that you gain as much hands-on medical experience as possible.  Most programs prefer that aspiring physician assistants have a broad understanding and in-depth medical knowledge.  Typically having about two years of hands-on patient care is sufficient and enough to meet their requirements.   

Step 3:  Prior professions to consider.
Those most apt to enroll in a physician assistant program are professionals already in the industry and have acquired the needed hands-on experience.  Occupations and professionals such as surgical assistants or surgical technologists, nursing assistants, medical assistants, athletic trainers, licensed practical or vocational nurses, emergency medical technicians, military medics and physical therapy technicians.  All of which would make the transition into a physician assistant training program much easier. 

Step 4:  Earn a Bachelors Degree.
In Arkansas, you are required to earn at least a Bachelors Degree in Biology or Chemistry, also known as a hard science.  This typically takes about four years to complete.  The main thing to consider here is that you enter a school that is accredited so that all that work and education will be recognized when you enter the actual physician assistant training program.

Step 5:  Consult with Central Application Service for Physician Assistants.
You will find as you start applying to the PA programs of your choice, you will be asked to apply through the CASPA or better known as the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants.  Due to the lack of a central standardization for the application process most physician assistant programs require you to apply through the CASPA who provides a service similar to medical school admissions.  This way you only have to complete one application and have the ability to apply to as many PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT programs as desired. 

Step 6:  Take the certifying exam.
Once a student has successfully completed the physician assistant program, they must then pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination in order to obtain certification.  The organization that is responsible for administering this particular exam is called the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).  Arkansas residents are also required to register with their state before they can begin practicing under a supervising physician. 

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