If you have decided to pursue a lucrative career as an occupational health PA, then the first and perhaps most important thing you need to do is to choose your major and to make sure that you have all the pre-requisites necessary for admission. Remember that admission to such a school is often very competitive, and you must have better grades – generally, a GPA of at least 2.5 on a scale of 4.0, although this varies greatly from one PA training school to another. After deciding on your major, it is of utmost importance to look only for ARC-PA approved training schools where you can get all the theoretical and the practical training that will benefit you later. There are several specific majors (such as the biology major) that will particularly fit students who want to pursue a career in physical therapy or occupational therapy.
These training programs typically last for your years and they will result in a Bachelor’s Degree – some accelerated programs may also be available, which will allow you to get your Bachelor’s within two years or even less. Depending on the university of your choice, you may also get a combination of a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree within five to six years. The basic curriculum of the most popular majors for pre-health studies include sport sciences (kinesiology), neuroscience, bioengineering and biochemistry, cell biology, genetics,basic medical sciences, microbiology and so forth. Every occupational health PA training program will emphasize on the core courses that are the most important for this profession, such as general biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, introductory biochemistry, microbiology lecture and laboratory, introductory genetics and cell biology, human anatomy, comparative anatomy, physiology, biomedical ethics, human sexuality and plenty of other similar fields.
At the end of the physician assistant training program, it is important to sit for the PANCE examination which will result in a certification that is recognized all over the nation. The Physician Assistant National Certification Examination represents the final frontier between you and your career as a certified physician assistant – if you have decided to pursue a career in a subspecialty such as physical therapy or occupational health, then in addition to becoming a certified physician assistant you will also need to apply for the CAQ, or the Certificate of Added Qualifications. Both the PANCE and the CAQ examination are administered by the same institution, which is the NCCPA.
Occupational Health Physician Assistant Certification
In order to be able to practice legally as a physician assistant that specializes in occupational health an physical therapy, you will need to become a certified PA and to earn your CAQ credentials from the NCCPA. Both examinations are thorough and aim to test your skills and knowledge, in order to make sure that all occupational health PAs in the United States of America can provide medical services of the highest quality, in an affordable manner.
Before you can sit for the CAQ credential, it is important to undergo some degree of training in the area of occupational health – after you get your master’s degree in the field of your choice, you can enroll in a one-year specialty training program where you will do some clinical rotations, with emphasis on the field in which you wish to specialize (in this case, occupational health). This short period of training can truly make a difference in your life later on.
The qualification requirements for the CAQ examination are rather basic – you must firstly hold an active certification (be a certified physician assistant) and you must also possess a valid, active and unrestricted license that allows you to practice your profession as a physician assistant in at least 1 jurisdiction in the United States of America or its territories. You must also enjoy full and unrestricted privileges to practice your profession as a physician assistant for a government agency. In addition to this, if you managed to obtain a license to practice in more than one state, then it is important to make sure that all your PA licenses are unrestricted.
The process of receiving your CAQ credentials include four important requirements: you must achieve the category 1 specialty continuing medical education classes, you must have 12 to 24 months of practical experience in the field, you must have performed some basic occupational health-related procedures and have some core patient case experience and the final requirements is to pass the specialty exam. If you manage to pass it, you will receive your Certificate of Added Qualifications and you will be able to work legally as an occupational health PA in the USA.