The military needs medical and health professionals in order to provide services to soldiers and to offer medical services in countries where the U.S. military is posted. So, many physician assistants work in the military. Whether you choose to join the military after you’ve gone through your PA education or whether you study within the military’s programs, make sure you know the steps you need to take if you want to become a military physician assistant.
Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree
The first step to becoming a physician assistant, regardless of whether or not you’re going into the military later, is to get your bachelor’s degree and complete physician assistant program prerequisites. If you know you want to go into the military, it may also be a good idea to talk to ROTC officers at your school or even complete ROTC programs without going through the last two years that require military commitments immediately upon graduation.
Go to a Physician Assistant Program
In order to get certified and licensed as a physician assistant, you must complete a physician assistant program that is acceptable to the military’s standards. Physician assistant programs typically last between two and three years. The United States Army also has their own military physician program that is an option if you want to bypass the process it takes to go into the military as a civilian physician assistant student.
Meet Military PA Requirements
The military requires physician assistants to go through the traditional physician assistant masters programs, but there are also additional military requirements. You must pass the Physician Assistant Certifying Exam (PANCE), be eligible for board certification or licensure, and be between 21 and 42 years of age to be a military physician assistant. Additionally, the military typically only accepts applicants who have graduated from their physician assistant program in the previous six months.
Consider Your Military Physician Assistant Job Opportunities
Physician assistants work in any of the five military branches, so do your research and identify which branch you’d like to serve.
Contact a Recruitment Officer
Assuming you’ve gone to a non-military affiliated physician assistant program, the next step is to contact a recruitment officer from your desired military branch and start your application process. The recruitment officer will then pass on your application to a military selection committee.
Be Approved By The Selection Committee
The military selection committee will review your application to enter the military and will make sure that your physician assistant program meets acceptable standards for the military’s physician assistants. If they approve your application, you will start military training and go on active duty as a military physician assistant.