Ace Your Exam! Physician Assistant Certification Requirements

Physician Assistant Certification Requirements

After spending countless hours in the classroom, medical facility or hospital, you are finally prepared to obtain your national certification as a Physician Assistant. All the hard work and time away from loved ones has finally paid off. You are nearly ready to join your PA peers!

Physician Assistant certification requires a new graduate to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). This 300 question, multiple choice exam is taken in five blocks of 60 questions, taken 60 minutes at a time. These questions will test you on basic and surgical knowledge across various medical areas including the organ system and clinical tasks. 

There are several requirements to the exam in order to qualify to participate in this certification process. There are time and educational requirements and of course necessary paperwork to complete this process. The preliminary step is to ensure that you have completed a qualifying educational program. So long as you have graduated from a program accredited by ARC-PA prior to July 1994, you are allowed to sit for this exam. Regardless of where you may have earned your medical degree, the program must be accredited by ARC-PA. If it was prior to the 1994 time period there is different eligibility criteria for your educational program based on historical accreditation programs. Additionally, if you are taking this exam no more than six years after completing your medical program, then you are eligible to participate. 

Registration requires further steps and there are time constraints to be mindful of. An application for the Physician Assistant certification exam along with a $475 fee must be sent in advance. The fee along with your application must be sent no more than 180 days after your graduation and the submission of all the requested paperwork. This time frame will be provided to you in writing after submission of the materials in an e-mail of acknowledgement of receipt of your application. Another items to be mindful of is that you are only able to take the test once every 90 days and not less than than 7 days after completion of your school program. The exam is scheduled at a location of your choice and there are sites all over the United States with Pearson VUE testing centers

Things to consider in order to ace your exam:

  • Use the available resources for study materials, it is integral that you utilize these to study, review and prepare over time. 
  • Take practice exams that require you to test oneself using the same method as the examiners will require. 
  • You have breaks allotted to you during the exam after each block of 60 questions. Use these to eat, drink and refresh. Be careful though, the breaks last only 45 minutes. 
  • Get to the site early, better to be prepared! Plus if you arrive late you are not permitted to take your exam at all. 

Have hope, according to the NCCPA, in 2015 96% were successful in passing the physician assistant certification exam the first try!

Did you just pass your PANCE? Consider a career with Elliot Health System!

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