National Trends

Career Practice Issues

To obtain national certification a PA must sit for and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants​ (NCCPA).

Only graduates of an accredited PA program are eligible to take the PANCE. To maintain NCCPA certification each PA must comply with the (ten-year) cycle of continuous NCCPA Certificate Maintenance. The maintenance process includes earning and logging 100 Continuing Medical Education (CME) hours every two years; re-registration of certification every two years and successful completion of the re-certification exam (PANRE) every ten years. Information about physician assistant student PANCE performance are located on the UF PANCE performance reports page.

Currently, physician assistants have been granted legal authority for prescription privileges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In Ohio, as of January 1, 2008, a PA must have a masters degree or higher to obtain a certificate to practice.


Family medicine, Orthopedic surgery, and Emergency medicine are the top three specialties in which PAs practice (in that order, respectively). PAs practice in all US states and territories.  Employment settings for PAs include hospitals, community-based health centers, rural clinics, rehabilitation centers, group practices, military bases, managed care organizations, as well as academia, administration and research.

Results of the 2015 AAPA Physician Assistant Salary Report indicate that the mean total income from primary employer for PAs who are not self-employed and who work at least 32 hours per week for their primary employer $93,800 (national mean). This figure is the base salary and does not include bonuses.