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Physician Assistant Course In USA: A Comprehensive Guide

Physician assistant course In USA

Physician assistants work under the direct supervision of physicians, providing crucial support to healthcare teams. They undergo rigorous advanced education and intensive training in a medical setting. Through comprehensive coursework and clinical experience, aspiring physician assistants acquire the skills needed to assist in surgeries, devise treatment strategies, and operate effectively in dynamic healthcare environments. Pursuing a physician assistant course in the USA opens up numerous opportunities for realising your medical aspirations!

The United States offers a top-tier medical education system. As mentioned earlier, completing a physician assistant course in the USA is globally recognized and respected, eliminating the need for additional examinations. U.S. universities are renowned for their high-quality curriculum and distinguished faculties. This blog aims to be a valuable reference for those considering a career as a physician assistant.

What Does A Physician Assistant Do? 

Physician assistants operate similarly to physicians. They conduct patient examinations, make disease diagnoses, prescribe medications, and issue referrals to specialists. It’s essential to note that these professionals must work under the supervision of a licensed medical doctor

They can specialise in various medical fields, taking on roles such as anaesthesiologist assistant, orthopaedic physician assistant, pediatric physician assistant, radiology practitioner assistant, and surgical physician assistant. Regardless of their chosen specialisation, physician assistants dedicate themselves to patient interactions, conveying essential healthcare information, and making crucial decisions about patient healthcare.

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Steps To Become A Physician Assitant In The US

Physician assistant course In USA

A physician assistant course in USA for international students involves the completion of the below-mentioned steps:

Get a Bachelor’s Degree

  • Obtain a qualifying bachelor’s degree for PA graduate programmes.
  • Consider a relevant field like health science or nursing.
  • Take prerequisite undergraduate courses in subjects like biochemistry, organic chemistry, immunology, and genetics.
  • Some schools offer combined BS/MS programmes for time and cost savings.

Master’s Degree

  • Achieve a bachelor’s degree for admission to an ARC-PA-accredited PA master’s programme.
  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 3.25, both overall and in science-related courses.
  • Score at least 300 on the GRE.
  • Complete a 147-credit-hour master’s programme in seven semesters.
  • Study didactic science courses and engage in clinical rotations.

PANCE: Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination

The PANCE or Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination is a standardised and comprehensive examination that aspiring physician assistants (PAs) in the United States must pass in order to become certified and practice as PAs. It is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

  • Graduate from an ARC-PA-accredited master’s programme to be eligible for the PANCE.
  • Take the PANCE which covers organ systems, diseases, and assessments.
  • Up to six attempts are allowed within six years.
  • Obtain a state license to practice, adhering to state-specific requirements.

Step 4: Consider Certification

  • Pursue speciality or board certification to enhance skills and career prospects.
  • Specialize in areas such as cardiovascular surgery, paediatrics or psychiatry.
  • Meet experience, education and examination requirements for speciality certification.
  • Pay a fee (as of early 2020, $350).

Step 5: Maintain Certification

  • Accumulate 100 continuing education credits every two years.
  • Pass the PANCE again during the 10-year recertification cycle.
  • Up to three additional attempts are permitted for a PANCE retake.

Physician Assistant Course In USA Curriculum

A physician assistant course in USA for Indian students can be highly competitive which often necessitates prior work experience as a prerequisite. Common choices for accumulating this experience include roles like EMT, paramedic, medical assistant, or emergency room technician. Once accepted into the programme, students engage in a curriculum covering a range of subjects similar to those typically found in pre-medical programmes. These are some of the areas which you will be studying while pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in PA in the US: 

Bachelor’s Degree

  • Professionalism and Ethics in Physician Assistant Practice
  • Principals of Clinical Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Community and Public Health
  • Principles of Emergency Medicine and Surgery

Master’s Degree

  • Introduction to the Physician Assistant Profession
  • Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine
  • Pharmacotherapeutics
  • Pathophysiology
  • Research Methods for Health Professionals

Universities Offering A Physician Assistant Course In USA

To embark on this path, the first step is finding the right university or college that offers a Physician Assistant programme. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some reputable institutions in the USA that provide this sought-after course:

Name Of The UniversityQS Ranking 2023Average Tuition Fees
Harvard University1$19,140
John Hopkins University3$62,850
Stanford University5Nor specified
University of California, San Francisco9$151,515
University of Pennsylvania 18$13,369
Yale University13$111,784
Columbia University22$32,784
University of Chicago54$17,979
Washington University16$17,478
Duke University23$46,843

Eligibility Criteria For A Physician Assistant Course In USA

To apply to the above universities, you should have the following documents:

High School Degree60% or above
Bachelor’s Degree80% or above in a relevant field of medicine
GRE 320 or higher
English ProficiencyIELTS: 7.0TOEFL: 100
Other Needed DocumentsResumeLORsSOPFinancial Documents

Cost Of Living In The USA

The average physician assistant course in the USA fees range between $80,000, with higher-ranking schools costing well over $100,000. Moreover, in addition to tuition fees, students are responsible for covering their living expenses in various cities across the country. Therefore, it is crucial for international students to thoroughly examine the cost of studying in the USA before making a university selection. The table below highlights the costs which students will have to incur while studying in the US:

ParticularsCost (Monthly)
Off-Campus Accommodation $525
On-Campus Accommodation$871
Food Cost$527
Utility Cost$180
Health Insurance$80
Total Cost of Living with Off Campus Accommodation $1,504
Total Cost of Living with On Campus Accommodation $1,850
Annual Cost of Living$18,048


If you’re passionate about healthcare and looking for a career that combines your love for medicine with a shorter educational path than traditional physicians, consider embarking on the journey to become a Physician Assistant in the USA. It’s a challenging yet rewarding path that can lead to a fulfilling career dedicated to improving the health and well-being of others.


1. Are there online physician assistant programmes available in the USA?

The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences provides a fully online physician assistant programme. This programme offers two options: a complete three-year program and an accelerated two-year programme. 

2. Are there any scholarships or financial aid options available for physician assistant students in the USA?

The U.S. Public Health Service has several initiatives that provide scholarships, stipends, and loan repayment assistance to Physician Assistant students who commit to working in medically underserved areas for specific durations. For more details on these programmes, you can inquire through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) or visit their website.

3. Can Indian physician assistants work in the USA?

Physician Assistants trained in India may not meet the eligibility criteria to sit for licensing exams in countries such as the US and UK; nevertheless, they have the opportunity to work in other countries after successfully passing the respective licensing examinations.

4. What is a physician assistant’s course duration in USA?

A physician assistant course in USA typically has a duration of around two years. 

5. What is the difference between a physician assistant and a nurse practitioner?

Physician assistants follow the medical model, concentrating on disease testing, diagnosis, and treatment. In contrast, nurse practitioners adhere to the nursing model, emphasising patient testing, diagnosis, and treatment within the context of their disease.

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Physician assistant course In USA

Physician Assistant Course In USA: A Comprehensive Guide

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