Physician Assistant Programs In California

californiaHow To Become A Physician Assistant In California?

At the time being, there are approximately 10 accredited schools and programs that offer professional training for students who want to become physician assistants. These programs are usually offered at a master’s degree level, although there are several associate’s degree programs as well as certificate programs available as well. Having said that, the training typically combined theoretical training in the form of lectures with clinical experiences and laboratory training, although this can vary greatly from one school to another. Generally speaking, students manage to gather anywhere between one and three thousand hours of clinical experience, over the course of their training.

It is of utmost importance for physician assistants who plan to work in the state of California to pursue a licensure before they get the chance to work legally in either a private physician’s office or in a state hospital. The license is offered by the MBCPAB, or the Medical Board of California’s Physician Assistant Board, and in order to be eligible for the licensure, all the applicants must have completed a physician assistant training program that was reviewed and accredited by the ARC-PA.

Upon graduation, it is paramount for the future physician assistants to take the well-known PANCE exam, or the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam and to pass it. The PANCE exam represents the last frontier between the students and their dream job, and it is administered by the NCCPA, or the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, in the United States of America.

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Physician Assistant In California – Job Description

The specific duties of physician assistants in California depend on their specialty, the settings in whih they work as well as their overall level of experience. Nonetheless, these professionals are responsible with taking the personal medical history of the patients, diagnosing and treating various illnesses, ordering and interpreting different tests (such as MRI scans, ultrasounds, radiographs, x-rays and such), conduct thorough physical exams, prescribe medications and assist the licensed physician in surgery.

Licensure And Certification Information

As mentioned above, it is important for physician assistants to get their license followed by their certification in order to practice in California. In order to do so, all students must sit and pass the PANCE exam that aims to test the basic medical and surgical knowledge and skills of the future physician assistants, regardless of the state where they want to work. The requirements for the certification exam include a background check, fingerprinting as well as an assessment of the qualifications, the latter being performed by the licensing board of the state of California.

Salary and Career Info

The interactive chart above is a visual representation of the annual salary of California PA’s compared to the national annual salaries, all based on the latest May 2013 Occupational Employment Statistics figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Physician Assistant Programs In California

As mentioned above, there are approximately 10 different and approved physician assistant training programs in California, but there are some of them that stand out from the rest. That being said, the Foothill College in California is one of the most reputable programs, and it is basically a two-year college located in Los Altos Hills that offers Primary Care Associate’s programs, and in order to qualify for this program all applicants must firstly complete classes grounded in both math and science, as well as to obtain up to 3,000 hours of patient care experience. In some cases, the students may also be able to complete the training within 21 months, and the curriculum includes clinical training, workshops, lab classes as well as lecture-based classes.

Another very popular physician assistant program in California is offered by the Loma Linda University, which actually has a Physician Assistant Master’s Degree program designed to prepare its students to take the PANCE exam. The requirements include 2,000 hours of practical patient care experience. On the other hand, the Moreno Valley College which is a part of the Riverside Community College District also offers Physician Assistant Associate’s Degree programs, and it requires 2,000 hours of direct patient clinical experience. In order to be eligible for this PA training program offered by the Moreno Valley College, all students must complete some pre-requisite courses in general chemistry, algebra, physics, sociology, psychology as well as physiology and general chemistry.

The Samuel Merritt University as well as the Touro University in California also offer ARC-PA Accredited training programs for those who want to work as certified physician assistants in the state.

List of All 8 Accredited PA Programs

As of November 2014, the accrediting agency is ARC-PA and they have 8 fully accredited AL programs.

1. Loma Linda University

Initial Accreditation Date: October 1, 2000

Next ARC-PA Review: March 2017


2. Marshall B. Ketchum University

Marschall B. Ketchum PA Program

Initial Accreditation Date: March 7, 2014 (Provisional)

Next ARC-PA Review: March 2017


3. Samuel Merritt University

Initial Accreditation Date: April 1, 1999

Next ARC-PA Review: September 2018


4. Stanford University

Initial Accreditation Date: March 1, 1976

Next ARC-PA Review: September 2019



5. Touro University – California

Initial Accreditation Date: September 2, 2002

Next ARC-PA Review: September 2018



6. University of California-Davis

Initial Accreditation Date: March 1, 1974

Next ARC-PA Review: March 2017


7. University of Southern California (LA)

Initial Accreditation Date: October 1, 1975

Next ARC-PA Review: September 2018



8. Western University of Health Sciences

Initial Accreditation Date: May 1, 1990

Next ARC-PA Review: March 2020