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Becoming an EMPA

PAs are educated in intensive programs modeled after medical school and accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistants (ARC-PA).

The average PA curriculum is 26.5 months. The typical student is 28 years old, has a bachelor's degree and four years of healthcare experience prior to admission.

First-year PA students can expect classroom education on the following:

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Lab
  • Clinical Medicine
  • Evidence Based Medicine
  • Health Promotion
  • History and Physical Examination
  • Medical Ethics
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology

Second-year students may participate in clinical rotations in the following specialties: 

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Obstetrics/gynecology
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Radiology
  • Surgery

PA programs confer a master’s degree upon successful completion.

Generally, the following studies are needed before applying to one of the programs, however, check your specific program as prerequisites may vary:

  • Anatomy
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • College Math
  • English
  • Psychology/ Social Science
  • Medical Terminology
  • Physiology
  • Statistics

Programs are offered at or affiliated with medical schools, colleges and universities, and teaching hospitals and there are approximately 267 accredited PA programs in the United Sates. For a list of PA programs, visit the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) Website.

Upon graduation from an accredited physician assistant program, PAs must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) for certification. Only graduates of accredited programs may take the exam, which is developed by the National Board of Medical Examiners and administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Upon graduation and successful completion of the PANCE, PAs may enter emergency medicine. For those interested in additional emergency medicine training, several postgraduate emergency medicine programs for PAs exist. To learn about the programs available, visit the Association of Postgraduate Physician Assistant Programs (APPAP). For a list of the known existing emergency medicine PA postgraduate education programs, visit the Postgraduate Programs page on this website.