Becoming a Physician Assistant in Washington

Step #1: Physician Assistant State License in Washington

Like most states, Washington demands that all physician assistants be licensed by the state. The Washington State Department of Health is responsible for handling all new licensure requests, as well as all licensing renewal requests and procedures.

All states appear to have some sort of school accreditation requirement for licensee applicants; however, this differs in Washington because they allow accreditation to be from one of the three following agencies: the Accreditation Review Committee for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), or the Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation (CAHEA).

In order to eligible to work physician assistant jobs in Washington, the next portion of the state application requires a physician assistant student to successfully pass the national examination given by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, or NCCPA. The fee for the application is $125 and there is a supplemental fee of $225; which allows the license to be valid for a two-year period.

After the application has been completed, the accreditation requirements met and the national exam completed and passed, the Washington Department of Health will review the credentials of the candidate and make a determination regarding state licensure.  Only when licensure is granted can a graduate pursue physician assistant jobs in Washington State.

Step #2: Getting Certified

Those interested in how to become a physician assistant in Washington should understand that all graduates will have to be certified and pass the examination by the NCCPA, or National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. The purpose behind this specific test is to test the knowledge and comprehension of every recently graduated physician assistant student. In doing so, this examination helps to ensure that students are competent of what is required of them in this career field and that they are ready to act and work as a physician assistant. The test that is monitored by the NCCPA is called the PANCE test, meaning the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.

What this test does, in addition to ensuring certain standards are maintained, is effectively allows a physician assistant to use the title “PA-C” after their name while they are in practice. This designation recognizes the professional for having passed the examination and lets the industry know that they are an actively participating physician assistant.
This test is independent from the state of Washington and can be taken at any of the national locations of the NCCPA, but is required to become a physician assistant in Washington.

This certification does have biannual renewal requirements. In order to be recertified after two years, the physician assistant is expected to have completed 100 hours of additional continuing education during that time. There is also an associated test given by the NCCPA in order to have the certification renewed – the PANRE test, or Physician Assistant National Recertifying Examination.

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