Physician Assistant Programs in California with Degree Options
Research physician assistant programs in California, which currently has about 8 schools offering programs. Read an overview of degree programs, tuition info and program options for these schools, and decide which program is right for you.
Physician Assistant Programs in California
To practice as a physician assistant in California, individuals must first obtain licensure from the Medical Board of California's Physician Assistant Board. Meeting the eligibility requirements for this licensure means that applicants must first pass the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants' (NCCPA) certifying exam - the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). And to be eligible for the PANCE, applicants must first complete a degree program approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). About 8 schools in California offer physician assistant degree programs; however, not all programs qualify graduates to sit for the PANCE.
Individuals in Los Altos Hills can enroll in a physician assistant program called the Primary Care Associate Program. Admission requires applicants to complete specific coursework like anatomy, physiology, microbiology and psychology in addition to general education requirements. Additionally, applicants must have at least 3,000 hours of hands-on patient care experience.
The 21-month program is offered in cooperation with Stanford University. In addition to coursework, students gain practical training through preceptorships. Graduates may be awarded a Certificate of Clinical Proficiency by Stanford University and either a certificate or associate's degree from Foothill College. Graduates may also be prepared for the PANCE. The program has an articulation agreement with the physician assistant master's program at St. Francis University.
Loma Linda University
The Master of Physician Assistant program at this Christian-based university in Loma Linda accepts students who completed specific coursework and earned bachelor's degrees. The 2-year program requires students to spend the first year completing classes like medical ethics, patient diagnosis, anatomy and pathophysiology. Second-year students learn about profession-related concerns, and they also complete a series of clinical rotations in various medical specialties. Graduates should be eligible for the PANCE.
Moreno Valley College
Before enrolling at this college in Moreno Valley, individuals should keep in mind that the physician assistant program's accreditation has been placed on probation until 2014. Those who do apply can meet admission requirements by having at least 2,000 hours of suitable healthcare experience and completing prerequisite classes.
Once accepted into the 2-year Associate in Science program, students may learn about patient evaluations, nutrition, pharmacology and clinical applications. Students spend the second year completing 10 rotations that last 5 weeks each. The rotations may be completed in areas of family care, pediatrics, surgery, women's health and emergency medicine, among others. Students can choose a medical specialty that interests for 1 of the rotations.
Samuel Merritt University
Those looking for an ARC-PA-accredited degree program in the Oakland area can find a physician assistant master's program at SMU. To be 1 of the 36 students accepted into the program each year, applicants must earn bachelor's degrees with suitable GPAs; complete sufficient undergraduate coursework in biology, chemistry and statistics; submit recommendation letters; and acquire hands-on patient care experience.
Once accepted, students spend 27 months completing the program's requirements. The pre-clinical portion takes up the first 15 months and may teach students about clinical and behavioral science, how to perform patient evaluations and how to carry out clinical duties. The remaining 12 months make up the clinical training portion of the program; students complete several clerkships in areas of pediatrics, geriatrics, internal medicine, family care and surgery.
Touro University California
A dual degree program that leads to a Master in Public Health and a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies is offered at this university in Vallejo. The physician assistant portion is ARC-PA-accredited, and students can complete the program in fewer than 3 years. To be considered a competitive candidate, applicants need bachelor's degrees with at least 3.0 GPAs, more than 20 hours of job shadowing experience and at least 1,000 hours of healthcare experience.
Students in the program spend the first 4 months completing lecture- and lab-based classes that may include anatomy, biostatistics, pharmacology, epidemiology, medical skills, healthcare administration and environmental health. The remaining portion of the program is spent acquiring clinical training in primary care, emergency care and surgery. Additionally, students may complete a public health fieldwork experience and capstone course.
University of California - Davis
To be considered for the physician track of UC's Master of Health Services program in Davis, applicants must hold relevant bachelor's degrees and complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of healthcare experience, among meeting other requirements. This program is set to begin in June 2013. Accepted students can expect to complete clinical training in inner-city and rural areas. Throughout the program, students may spend about 1,950 hours obtaining clinical training, 160 of which are earned in medically-needy areas.
University of Southern California
Los Angeles is home to USC where an ARC-PA-accredited physician assistant master's program is available to eligible students. Admission requirements include earning a bachelor's degree, completing prerequisite classes, submitting GRE scores and obtaining professional clinical experience and community service experience. Students are accepted into the program once a year.
The program's curriculum focuses mainly on providing medical care to areas that are medically under-served. In the first year, the program requires students to complete classes in medical science, clinical procedures, behavioral science and medical topics. The first semester of the second year continues with coursework, while the following semester begins the clinical training portion, which resumes for the remainder of the program.
Western University of Health Sciences
In order to apply to this Pomona school's ARC-PA physician assistant master's program, individuals should have bachelor's degrees in any field and completed prerequisite coursework or be working toward the criteria. Unlike many other physician assistant programs, applicants aren't required to have previous healthcare experience; however, applicants may need to exhibit community involvement.
The first year of this 2-year program is mainly spent in the classroom and laboratory completing coursework. First-year students may also have the chance to gain clinical training through volunteer work. Majority of the second year is spent performing clinical rotations in healthcare settings. Students also work together to compile a research project during this year.
School Comparison Table
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Physician Assistant Programs Offered||Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)|
|Foothill College||2-year; public; large suburb||Certificate of Clinical Proficiency/Certificate of Achievement or Associate in Science||$1,536 in-state, $6,351 out-of-state (undergraduate)*|
|Loma Linda University||University; private; nonprofit; large suburb||Master of Physician Assistant||$24,888 (graduate)*|
|Moreno Valley College||2-year; public; rural||Associate in Science in Physician Assistant||$1,413 in-state, $6,813 out-of-state (undergraduate)*|
|Samuel Merritt University||University; private; nonprofit; large city||Master of Physician Assistant||$38,819 (graduate)*|
|Touro University California||University; private; nonprofit; rural||Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies/Master of Public Health||$28,620 (graduate)*|
|University of California - Davis Campus||University; public; small suburb||Master of Health Services--physician assistant track||$13,107 in-state, $28,209 out-of-state (graduate)*|
|University of Southern California||University; private; nonprofit; large city||Master of Physician Assistant Practice||$37,500 (graduate)*|
|Western University of Health Sciences||University; private; nonprofit; midsized city||Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies||$21,190 (graduate)*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator
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