Physician Assistant Programs in California

Physician Assistant Programs in California

Healthcare in this country is a booming industry. The population is aging, leading to an increased need for qualified medical professionals. Working as a physician assistant is a wonderful career in this industry, giving PA’s the freedom to work in several different areas of medicine while shouldering a great deal of responsibility.

The best physician assistant programs in California are, of course, those which are fully accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission for the Physician Assistant, or ARC-PA ( This institution is responsible for certifying quality education for prospective physician assistants. Each school accredited by the ARC-PA has been found to meet or exceed criteria, and graduates from these physician assistant programs in California are recognized as being fully prepared to take the national certification examination.

It is important to note that upon graduation, you must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam, often referred to as PANCE, before becoming eligible to work as a physician assistant. Many colleges and universities allow you to view the percentage of graduates who passed PANCE on their first try.

In this article, we’ll review the physician assistant programs in California. We’ll also give you a brief overview of the duties and responsibilities of a physician assistant, as well as the career outlook for this field.

Accredited Physician Assistant Programs in California

The following is a list of accredited physician assistant programs in California. Also listed is the type of degree offered.

Loma Linda University School of Allied Health Professions (Loma Linda) – Master’s Degree
Riverside Community College (Riverside) – Associate’s Degree
Samuel Merritt University (Oakland) – Master’s Degree
Stanford University (Certificate issued by Stanford; students attend Foothill College in Los Altos Hills) – Certificate
Touro University (Vallejo) – Bachelor’s Degree
University of California (Davis) – Bachelor’s Degree
University of Southern California (Los Angeles) – Master’s Degree
Western University of Health Sciences (Pomona) – Master’s Degree

As you can see, there are currently eight accredited physician assistant programs in California. Accreditation changes periodically, with some schools losing accreditation while others are approved. Be sure to check with each individual school to be certain of current accreditation.

While a Bachelor’s degree prepares students to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and obtain work as a physician assistant, higher education translates into more responsibility, expertise and higher pay.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Physician Assistant

Physician Assistant Programs In California

Physician assistant programs in California prepare students for a career working in the fast paced, demanding and exciting world of medicine. As a PA, you will perform many varied duties and shoulder a great deal of responsibility. While a physician assistant is always under the supervision of a doctor, most physician assistant jobs offer a great deal of independence.

Depending on where you work, the degree of independence varies. The best physician assistant programs in California will prepare you for every possible work setting, from busy inner-city hospitals to remote rural clinics and everything in-between.

In an average urban or suburban doctor’s office, clinic or hospital, a PA usually performs minor medical procedures. These can include treating minor wounds, taking patients’ medical histories, educating patients on preventative health care, ordering lab tests and interpreting the results of those tests, among many other duties. In most cases the PA will work very closely with a doctor or an entire team of medical professionals.

Physician assistants are generally allowed to write prescriptions. In California, physician assistants can prescribe a fairly broad range of common medications. Prescriptions written by physician assistants in California are legally known as “written prescription transmittal orders”.

In very rural or inner-city settings, the role of a PA can be very different than in suburban settings. Since these areas draw fewer doctors, many physician assistants take on much more responsibility. They are still required by law to consult with a doctor, but this consulting may take place over the phone, over the internet, or during in-person meetings a few days per week.

Doctors often send physician assistants to patients’ homes. During these visits the PA checks the patient and relays their condition to the doctor. These visits are also often made to assisted-living centers.

Career Outlook

All physician assistant programs in California prepare students for a very rewarding and lucrative career. The starting salary for a PA in California is between $75,000 and $85,000 per year. This is an extremely high range for a new graduate, making physician assisting very attractive for those considering a medical career. With specialized training and experience, a California physician assistant can make $150,000 or more per year.

As is true of all healthcare careers, a physician assistant can count on their field being in-demand for many years to come. Layoffs are rare in the healthcare industry. In fact, it’s one of a very small number of industries which are said to be “recession proof”. Accredited physician assistant programs in California will fully prepare you to become a part of this exciting and rewarding industry.



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