What Are Urgent Care PAs And How Can You Become One?
Urgent care PAs are skilled and highly trained certified physician assistants who work in the urgent care field – given the high work volume and the stress these health care professionals often deal with, urgent care physician assistants are amongst the highest paid health care providers in the industry, with a median yearly salary of around $130,000. These professionals provide medical care for ailments and injuries that require urgent medical attention, although they do not pose a real life threat to the patient. These professionals can be found working in private clinics or state hospitals, and they work under the close direction of a licensed medical doctor or physician.
There are several simple paths one can take in order to become a physician assistant that specializes in urgent care, but before moving on to gaining their CAQ or Certificate of Added Qualifications, it is of utmost importance for every physician assistant to firstly gain his or her regular certification by sitting for the PANCE examination which is administered by the NCCPA. As a matter of fact, both the PANCE examination and the final CAQ examination are administered by the same institution, which is the NCCPA, or the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants.
That being said, it is important for physician assistants to firstly graduate from an advanced PA training program that has been reviewed and approved by the ARC-PA, or the Accreditation Review Commission on the Education of Physician Assistant – at the end of the training program, the physician assistant who prepares for the PANCE examination should hold either a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree in the field, and should have obtained enough practical, hands-on experience in the medical industry. There are currently more than 150 different ARC-PA physician assistant training programs in the United States of America, several in each state.
Before moving on to applying for admission to an ARC-PA approved physician assistant training program, it often happens that most students choose to get some basic practical experience in the health care industry by working as EMTs, health care workers or registered nurses. The career path one has to take in order to become an urgent care PA may vary slightly, but all PAs are required to hold at least a Bachelor’s Degree in a relevant major, which means that these health care professionals must study medicine for at least three to four years, and to get a deeper insight into life sciences, psychology, biology or chemistry.
These training programs will emphasize on both classroom teaching and laboratory training/clinical training, and the courses will include classes in medical ethics, human anatomy, pathology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, gynecology, internal medicine, prenatal care, orthopedics, internal medicine, family care and paediatrics, all of which are of utmost importance for the future career of an urgent care PA.
How To Gain Your Urgent Care CAQ
After getting all the necessary training and expertise in the urgent care field, the next step every certified physician assistant needs to take is to meet the eligibility requirements for the Certificate of Added Qualifications Program, or the CAQ.
Having said that, there are several basic and advanced pre-requisites that every currently certified physician assistant must satisfy in order to be eligible for the CAQ program. First and foremost, it is important for these skilled health care providers to currently own a PA-C certification, which can be obtained only by passing the PANCE examination, at the end of the PA training program. The second and also one of the most important requirements these professionals must meet is to possess a valid and unrestricted license to practice as a physician assistant in more than one jurisdiction in the US or all its adjacent territories.
Every professional physician assistant who wants to pursue CAQ in urgent care must also have enough category one specialty continuing medical education credits, combined with basic experience in the urgent care field of at least two years. If the physician assistant is able to accommodate all these eligibility requirements for receiving the Certificate of Added Qualification in Urgent Care, then he or she will be able to sit for the final specialty examination. After meeting the eligibility requirements, students must pay an administrative fee of $100 to the NCCPA, followed by an exam registration fee of an additional $250.