The Process of becoming a Certified & Licensed PA-C

Process for licensing and getting credentialed as a freshly minted PA…

Here are my recommendations for a smooth transition into the working life after PA school:

Steps you must complete overall (so you can see the big picture)
1.    Obtain a national certification by NCCPA: Pass the PANCE
2.    Get astate licensein the state you will be practicing (this is why I stress job searching before graduation)
3.    Get a job –(obvious, yes. But just to make sure we’ve tallied it all up correctly.)
4.    Obtain your NPI number(quick + easy process)
5.    Optional depending on your position- Obtain your DEA

 

1.     First things first: if you had to put ALL of your eggs in one basket…focus on passing the PANCE first. 
Do NOT delay registering for the PANCE & continue to study even if school’s out and/or you’re feeling burned out. If you need motivation, book a graduation trip to give you something to look forward to (if ending the constant study sessions isn’t enough light at the end of the tunnel). The sooner you pass the PANCE, the sooner you’ll get your first paycheck- and trust me, the process can be grueling
-      Exam date and location slots can fill up quick- You can pick within a 180 day time frame established by graduation date and the submission of the required material to NCCPA by your program. However, the earliest date you can test is 7 days after your official program completion date. 
-      Link to the NCCPA to register: https://www.nccpa.net/pance-registration
-      PANCE fees: $500 + an application must be submitted in advance to take the exam. 

2.     State licensing: In my experience the most time consuming / frustrating step. 
Get ahead on this step as quickly as possible & prepare all of the needed items for your state prior to your PANCE so you’re ready to submit as soon as your pass certificate is processed (and/or if your state allows temporary license, typically you can submit for a temp once you’re registered for the PANCE)
-      Not all states require that you need your NCCPA certification to get your official state license.
-      But ALL STATES do require you pass the PANCE & graduate from an accredited program.
-      Unfortunately each state has different sets of rules / requirements / fees and their own timeline when it comes to licensing. So I urge you to look up the state you’re going to be practicing & what the board of medicine’s website consists of & write down the specific requirements.
-      Here’s a link to see how what your state requires for PA licensing & license renewalhttps://www.aapa.org/download/19739/
-      Link to Florida’s Board of Medicine Herehttps://flboardofmedicine.gov/licensing/physician-assistant-licensure/
-      Link to each state’s laws and regulations from AAPA: https://www.aapa.org/advocacy-central/state-advocacy/state-laws-and-regulations/

Overall, Florida Documents & Fees should consist of:

  •  Online App (Non-refundable)  Fee: $100

  • Initial (Non-refundable) License Fee: $205

  • Copy of course transcripts sent by the PA programdescribing course content for pharmacotherapy. 

  • Physician Assistant Program diploma

  • Physician Assistant Program Verification form: Provided with the online app; must be submitted by the PA program (signed & sealed) to verify your completion of the pre-requisites for a FL licensure. 

  • Electronic Fingerprinting for Background Screen: $78;These must be performed at a Livescan service provider & must include ORI number for the Board of Medicine: EDOH4700Z.

  • NCCPA Verification Form completed by the NCCPA: Provided with the online app; to request verification from NCCPA  àlog into your NCCPA account and select ‘Certification Information Release’ on the left hand column and follow the prompts to release your exam results to your specific state licensing board.

  • Account of activities since graduation: Basically handwritten letter stating you have been studying to pass boards & job searching since your program has ended.

  • Prior license verificationsIncluding inactive status (Ex:LPN, RN, EMT, CNA, PARAMEDIC, RT, TT, PT, etc.)

  • For Temporary license : Must list the date you are scheduled to take the PANCE & have direct verification from NCCPA of exam registration sent to the FL DOH.

  • If applicable: Legal name change document (marriage cert)

  • If applicable: Military discharge certificate (DD124) 

-      Gathering all of these requirements may sound overwhelming & it can be – but the important part of this step is to gather everything prior to taking your PANCE so that you can submit your information immediately after passing your exam. 
-      Each state has a different processing period & because I didn’t submit all of my documents at once- my processing time took about 3-4 weeks. The best way to expedite the processing time is to send all supporting documents with the initial application. 

3.     Get a job! Many of you have sent in DM’s on Instagram asking if you should go for your dream job or if you should just take any job you can get as a new grad from PA school. I truly believe that you are just as valuable as the applicant next to you & that you should 100% go for your dream job!
Keep in mind, most surgical subspecialties do not allow new graduates until they have a few years of experience in general surgery or a surgery specialty that will train them adequately- this is totally normal & I wouldn’t consider it “settling”, but rather continuing education toward your ultimate goal. To add to that- I would also still apply to these positions & try to make a personal connection with the team if in any way possible (Go the extra mile to make sure there would be no possibility of hiring a new grad without experience). In fact, some surgical subspecialties prefer no experience so they can teach their PA’s from the ground up without having to ‘unteach’ bad practice - let my first position as a PA be a testament!
Basically, DO NOT SETTLE. Not only will ‘accepting any job and/or pay’ ruin the market for Physician Assistants, but you would also be doing yourself (& your patients) a disservice by not being passionate every day about your position. (And if you have questions about the starting salary, refer to the AAPA’s 2018 Salary Report to negotiate an offer that will make you feel proud to work at that specific facility! Linked in this previous blog post: https://www.withashleykay.com/blog/2019/5/10/new-pa-on-the-block-part-1 )

4.     Get an NPI Number: Sounds intimidating & I had never even heard of it before applying for one, but it’s super quick and easy. This number will be delivered to your email within hours & is simply an ID as a provider. -      Here’s the link: https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/#/

5.     Depending on your practice, you are eligible as a PA to get a DEA license
-      Getting your DEA license is an additional $731 for a 3 year license.
- You WILL need an ACTIVE & VALID state license prior to applying for a DEA license otherwise they will withdraw your application as defective & keep the $731 (yeah, kind of a lot of money…don’t overlook this)
- Personally, I intend to get one soon- but because my practice doesn’t require me to have one, I have chosen not to at the moment.
Until I have more helpful tips on this in particular, I've attached a link here to get you started on the needed essentials to obtain your DEA license: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/online_forms_apps.html

I hope this was overall helpful for you in a broad snapshot of the process you’ll need to complete so you can begin using the ‘PA-C’ that you worked so hard to put behind your name! If I haven’t stressed this enough, I would begin job searching BEFORE graduation so that once you take your boards (& PASS) your life will be less of a waiting game and more smooth sailing into your first job as a PA. If you choose to work in a hospital setting, remember that getting credentialed through hospitals systems can take up to 90+ days to actually get in and start work, so plan for this accordingly as you approach the end of your schooling & financial responsibilities!
If there are any questions or additions you would like to see you see in the above post, please do not hesitate to comment below or reach out!