The Best Physician Assistant PA Schools In Virginia | 2023 Ranking

Often, you find yourself genuinely taking care of the sick and volunteering your time for their care but don’t want to pursue a medical career officially. A career as a physician assistant will be a suitable choice for you.

Becoming a physician assistant usually takes a long, demanding process, but the outcome is a rewarding career that will increase your knowledge in the medical field.

As a physician assistant, you will be trained to become a medical provider whose job is to assist doctors in a healthcare setting.

However, the journey towards achieving this goal starts with applying to accredited PA schools with the best PA programs in Virginia to help nurture you appropriately in this line of duty.

This article will divulge the best PA schools, their admissions requirements, and how to become a physician assistant in Virginia successfully.

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Are There PA Schools In Virginia?

A Physician Assistant (PA) school is designed to train individuals who want to become medical care providers in the healthcare industry.

The programs usually consist of intensive classroom and laboratory study and clinical practice. Aspiring PAs are exposed to the rudiments of healthcare with the supervision of a physician.

Virginia has eight (8) PA schools that are standardized and meet all the requirements to carry out the PA training program.

The following are the PA schools located in Virginia.

  • Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Emory and Henry College
  • James Madison University,
  • Jefferson College of Health Sciences
  • Mary Baldwin University
  • Shenandoah University
  • South University
  • University of Lynchburg

How Do I Get Into PA Schools In Virginia?

After searching through the various Physician Assistant (PA) programs in Virginia, aspiring PAs are usually faced with the dilemma of successfully getting into the PA school of their choice.

Each PA program has its own admissions requirements, which are unique to them. With little knowledge of faculty admissions requirements and having good grades, you stand a chance of being admitted.

The following are the general admissions requirements of PA schools in Virginia.

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Prerequisite courses like chemistry, Biology, and Physics
  • A minimum of 3.0 GPA and above
  • CASPA Application
  • GRE or TOEFL scores
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statements

How Long Are PA Schools in Virginia? 

To be eligible to apply to a physician assistant program in Virginia, candidates must have acquired a bachelor’s degree in a Science related course from an accredited institution which usually takes about 4years to complete.

Virginia’s physician assistant program takes approximately 27 months to complete, although this depends on your chosen program, as some may extend to 36 months.

Also, at the end of the program, the next thing will be to acquire a master’s degree. The master’s program, on average, takes roughly two years to complete. 

Can Physician Assistants Practice Independently In Virginia 

The duties of a Physician Assistant are essential in the Medical world as physicians need all the help they can get when attending to healthcare situations. Physician Assistants primarily follow up on patients during their treatments to ensure they adhere to their treatment regime.

Also, a Physician Assistant takes diagnoses, prescribes medications, and is responsible for cleaning and stitching wounds under the supervision of a physician.

However, in the 2019 General Assembly session, Virginia legislators voted to give physician assistants more autonomy in their scope of practice, therefore, creating an avenue by liberating physician assistants from current stipulations that maintain they may only practice under the supervision of a licensed doctor.

Virginia is one of the few states in the United States that allows physician assistants to practice independently.

What are the Best PA (Physician Assistant) Schools In Virginia?

The path towards having a fulfilling career as a physician assistant starts with possessing fundamental knowledge about what the physician assistant profession entails.

Physician Assistant programs help to train aspiring PAs on how to diagnose, prescribe medication and take proper care of patients. Although the training could be rigorous, the outcome is worthwhile.

Furthermore, attending good PA schools that offer quality training helps candidates define their careers as physician assistants.

So, let’s take a cursory look at the best PA schools in Virginia in 2022.

#1. Shenandoah University – Winchester

Ranked among the top 30 PA programs representing Virginia in the United States, Shenandoah University has one of the most comprehensive PA programs, which is ideal for prospective physician assistants.

This University’s PA program offers a 30-month intensive training in a caring and supportive environment, where small-sized classes and individualized mentorship prepare aspiring PAs for several challenges in healthcare delivery.

Additionally, the university’s PA offers students study abroad programs during their breaks. The aim is to gain global exposure and greatly enhance cultural sensitivity and adaptability skills.

At Shenandoah University, prospective PAs have the opportunity to either enroll in the Master of Science In Physician Assistant Studies (MS-PAS) or a PA/MPH dual degree. Also, the tuition cost for residents is $81,880 per year.

To be eligible for admission to either of these two physician assistant programs in Virginia, you must possess the following: 

  • A bachelor’s degree in any field with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • CASPA Application 
  • Completion of prerequisite courses
  • GRE score
  • At least 400 hours of healthcare experience.

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#2. Eastern Virginia Medical School – Norfolk

Eastern Virginia Medical School’s PA program is one of the best options to consider when obtaining your professional training as a physician assistant.

As ranked among the best physician assistant programs in Virginia, this program is not only offered on the campus of a medical school but also models its instructions after the medical school’s curriculum.

Furthermore, the institution offers a rigorous 28-month program filled with volunteer opportunities through community-engaged experiential learning.

To apply to this PA program, candidates must:

  • Submit their CASPA application and take the CASPA test
  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Completion of prerequisite courses
  • Have a minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • Have patient care and volunteer experience

The tuition fee for both residents and non-residents are $86,139 and $107,467. The general expectation of the PA program is to train and prepare graduates to provide quality healthcare and to cultivate their service as capable leaders in clinical, research, and community service environments.

ARC-PA accredits the Eastern Virginia Medical School Physician Assistant program.

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#3. James Madison University – Harrisonburg

Aspiring PAs can consider James Madison University as one of the accredited PA schools where aspiring PAs can get their training. The programs include engaged learning, community and civic engagement, and the option of completing a 4-week clinical rotation in Peru.

To its credit, the 24-month program comprises broad-based training, resulting in high PANCE pass rates and having all its graduates secure suitable placements within six months of completing the program. 

To become a physician assistant at James Madison University, you must first ensure to fulfill the admission requirements:

  • Having a bachelor’s degree in any field with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Transcripts 
  • Letters of recommendations
  • Complete the prerequisite courses
  • Have at least 1000 hours of direct patient-care experience.

The Accreditation Review Commission accredits the Physician Assistant Program on Education for the Physician Assistant.

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#4. University of Lynchburg – Lynchburg

The University of Lynchburg PA Medicine program has a 27-month curriculum that prepares aspiring PAs with evidence-based insight to serve diverse patient populations. At its completion, it confers them with a Master of PA Medicine (MPAM) degree.

Students at the University of Lynchburg will be mentored in leadership and health equity to provide opportunities for professional growth within their careers and facilitate the profession’s development.

To be admitted, students must carry out the following admissions requirements

  • A CASPA application
  • A bachelor’s degree in any field with a minimum GPA of 3.0 
  • Completion of prerequisite courses
  • Having healthcare or volunteering experience

The Commission accredits the Physician Assistant Program on Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.

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#5. Emory & Henry College – Emory

The Emory & Henry PA Program, located in Marion, Virginia, provides one of the best PA programs. Its student-centric approach and small-sized classes make learning beneficial, so when its students complete the program, they are equipped with the tools to excel as primary care providers.

The E&H MPAS Program is fully-accredited. Graduates are eligible to sit for their national boards, known as the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE), and, upon passing, are eligible for state licensure.

The 27-month program is offered as full-time on-campus coursework and requires students to complete all the courses with a minimum grade of C to graduate.

To be considered for this Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, the college requires you to fulfill various requirements such as

  • A bachelor’s degree in Science related course from an accredited institution
  • Completion of prerequisite coursework
  • A GRE score
  • A minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • Letters of Recommendation 
  • Direct patient-care experience and shadowing hours

The Physician Assistant Program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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#6. Jefferson College of Health Sciences (Radford University Carilion)

The Jefferson College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Program (Physician Assistant program at Radford University Carilion) is ranked as one of the top PA programs in Virginia.

The Jefferson College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Department is committed to training and nurturing top-notch physician assistants who will merge professionalism with empathy to better the health of the Virginia community.

The 27-month PA program boasts a high pass rate on the certification exam. It ensures the successful placement of its graduates, and it is little surprise that it is counted among the best physician assistant programs in Virginia. 

This program is open to students who possess the following requirements.

  • A bachelor’s degree in any field
  • A minimum of 3.0 GPA
  • Have at least 500 hours of healthcare experience, either paid or volunteered
  • Must complete program prerequisites in anatomy & physiology, chemistry, microbiology, statistics, medical terminology, genetics, and psychology before matriculation
  • Letter recommendations
  • GRE score
  • A compelling essay

The Accreditation Review Commission accredits the Physician Assistant Program on Education for the Physician Assistant.

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#7. South University, Richmond – Glen Allen

South University, Richmond is one of many PA schools in Virginia that prepare you to excel on the certifying exam and train you to become compassionate caregivers committed to serving the community.

The Masters in Physician Assistant program at South University’s Richmond campus, which spans for 27-months, is formulated to promote adequate learning opportunities that will motivate its students to perform their expected competencies in an ethical, legal, safe, and effective manner upon graduation.

To qualify, South University requires you to have:

  • An accredited bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • You must have a science GPA of at least 3.0
  • Three letters of reference
  • GRE score 
  • At least 400 hours of healthcare experience
  • Completion of prerequisite courses before submission of your application

The Commission accredits the Physician Assistant Program through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.

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#8. Mary Baldwin University – Staunton

Mary Baldwin University’s PA program is designed to train graduates to offer the highest quality of patient care in a constantly evolving healthcare environment. 

So, if you intend to practice in the “Old Dominion state or anywhere else in the country, you will be able to explore various medical job opportunities by gaining knowledge and skills in team-based interprofessional collaboration and leadership.

To be an eligible candidate, the institution requires you to possess:

  • A bachelor’s degree in any field with a minimum GPA of 3.0. You can transfer up to six graduate-level credits, provided you have completed them within the last three years, at an accredited partner institution with a minimum of grade B
  • Completion of prerequisite courses
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • GRE score
  • Also, it is highly recommended that you complete shadowing hours with a PA to enhance your chances of admission.

The Commission accredits the Physician Assistant Program through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.

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What Are The Easiest Virginia PA Schools To Get Into? 

Admissions into PA schools could be pretty tricky as research has shown that the acceptance rate of PA schools is somewhat low. Students interested in becoming physician assistants must ensure that they meet the admission requirements of the school of their choice.

However, if you are looking for the most accessible Virginia PA schools to get into with a low GPA, the truth is that there are none in the Old Dominion State.

All PA schools have strict admission requirements which must be adhered to. Also, the minimum GPA required to be admitted into Virginia’s PA schools is 3.0. This is entirely above average. So, no PA program in Virginia accepts a low GPA.

How Much Does A Physician Assistant Make In Virginia?

In Virginia, physician assistants earn an average of $51.94 per hour and $108,040 per year. However, there is variation in physician assistant salaries in Virginia.

Hospital physician assistants may be compensated at a higher rate, mainly if they take up swing shifts or night shifts where they’re paid a differential. In addition, physician assistants also get healthcare insurance, retirement savings options, and paid leave.

Another factor influencing the salary rate of physician assistants is their work experience, as entry-level PAs receive an average of $63,630 per year while a PA with 20 years of experience or more receives $143,560 per year.

What are the Best Physician Assistant Programs In Virginia?

To become a physician assistant, you should search for PA schools that offer the best training programs for aspiring PAs.

The importance of these programs is to help train individuals to become medical professionals equipped with the knowledge and skills to work in any chosen therapeutic setting.

Also, students can select online or on-campus programs, enabling them to study at their convenience.

Here’s a list of the best physician assistant programs in Virginia.

  1. Shenandoah University – Winchester
  2. Eastern Virginia Medical School – Norfolk
  3. James Madison University – Harrisonburg
  4. University of Lynchburg – Lynchburg
  5. Emory & Henry College – Emory
  6. Radford University Carilion – Roanoke
  7. South University, Richmond – Glen Allen
  8. Mary Baldwin University – Staunton

What are the PA Schools In Virginia That Don’t Require GRE? 

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) has been the misery of most students desiring to pursue a career as physician assistants. This is because of how difficult and rigorous the exam is.

If you want to become a physician assistant but don’t want to write the GRE, some schools in Virginia do not require you to register or present the GRE as an admission requirement.

The only two (2) PA schools that do not require the GRE as admission prerequisites are as follows

  • Shenandoah University 
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School 

Are there Physician Assistant Master’s Programs In Virginia? 

Virginia has an excellent physician assistant master’s program, which offers advanced knowledge needed in any area of specialization in the healthcare system.

If you are shortlisting physician assistant schools in Virginia with high-quality master’s programs emphasizing leadership, interprofessional collaboration, compassion, and health equity, here’s a list of the physician assistant master’s programs available.

  1. Shenandoah University – Winchester – Master of Science In Physician Assistant Studies (MS-PAS) or a PA/MPH
  2. Eastern Virginia Medical School – Norfolk – Master of Physician Assistant Program
  3. James Madison University – Harrisonburg – Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program
  4. University of Lynchburg – Lynchburg – Master of PA Medicine Program
  5. Emory & Henry College – Emory – Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program
  6. Mary Baldwin University – Staunton – MSPA Program
  7. South University, Richmond – Glen Allen – Master of Science in Physician Assistant
  8. Jefferson College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Program (Radford University Carilion – Masters of Physician Assistant Program

Are there Online Physician Assistant Courses In Virginia For International Students?

International students interested in the physician assistant programs in Virginia have no intention of relocating suitable to apply for online courses.

Just like resident students, they must also meet the admissions requirements for the respective pa schools to which they apply.

Here’s a list of pa schools that offer online courses to international students.

  • James Madison University Physician Assistant Program
  • Shenandoah University Physician Assistant Program
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School Physician Assistant Program

What are the Cheapest PA Schools In Virginia? 

Finding affordable PA schools in Virginia could be an arduous task as most are private institutions which are usually quite expensive.

The average tuition cost of PA schools in Virginia ranges from approximately $23,000 at a publicly funded school if you’re a Virginia resident to $85,500 at a private university.

Below is the list of PA schools that are relatively cheap but quite affordable in Virginia.

  • James Madison University
  • Shenandoah University
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School

What are the Accredited PA Programs In Virginia?

The physician assistant school you choose to invest your time and money in matters in pursuing your career. When applying to PA schools in Virginia, endeavor to check if the school has been accredited.

An accredited PA program allows you to become a certified physician assistant at the end of your program. Once a school is not accredited, students studying under such a program can not become physician assistants.

In Virginia, the following are the accredited PA programs.

  • Eastern Virginia Medical School – Norfolk
  • Shenandoah University – Winchester
  • James Madison University – Harrisonburg
  • University of Lynchburg – Lynchburg
  • Emory & Henry College – Emory
  • South University, Richmond – Glen Allen
  • Mary Baldwin University – Staunton
  • Radford University Carilion – Roanoke

How To Become A Physician Assistant In Virginia 

Physician Assistants in the Old Dominion State have made considerable contributions to its healthcare system. They have constantly saved lives by prescribing medications, conducting physical tests, or assisting surgeons during emergencies.

Although highly competitive, the physician assistant profession is lucrative as there is a projected salary increase in the following years.

If you are interested in becoming a physician assistant in Virginia, here are some general ways to help achieve this goal. 

Acquire a Bachelor’s Degree 

Before you can apply for a physician assistant program, aspiring PAs must have obtained a bachelor’s degree in Science related courses such as Nursing, Public Health, and Medical Assistant.

Also, the degree must be obtained from an accredited college or university and must have graduated with a minimum of 3.0 GPA and above.

Apply to an Accredited PA School

Two (2) main factors to consider when selecting a Virginia physician assistant program for licensure are its admission requirements and accreditation. 

As a general rule, PA programs in Virginia prefer candidates with:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • A minimum of 3.0 GPA and above
  • Prerequisite courses like Physics, Chemistry, and Biology
  • At least 200 hours of hands-on experience working with patients in the healthcare industry
  • GRE or TOEFL 

In addition, to become a licensed PA in Virginia, students must graduate from PA programs approved by American Medical Association (AMA) and the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

Write the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)

After completing the training programs, students should take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). The exam is usually a five-hour test whose passage is required for all PAs yearning to practice in Virginia. 

PANCE is endorsed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), which awards successful candidates with the Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) credential. 

Students can register for the $475 PANCE three months before graduating from their PA degree program. The exam is offered at disclosed locations throughout Virginia, where students can complete its 300 multiple-choice questions provided in a computer-based format.

Apply for a PA License with the Virginia Board of Medicine

After passing the PANCE, future PAs should send a complete PA license application to the Virginia Board of Medicine. The contents include:

  • Licensure Application
  • $130 application fee
  • Certificate of PA Program Education to be completed by the institution and sent to the Board
  • PANCE scores and PA-C to be sent by the NCCPA to the Board
  • $15 Application for PA Practice
  • Scope of Practice
  • Supervising Hospital/Physician
  • Request for Prescriptive Authority
  • Prescriptive Authority Request

It should be noted that applications are usually processed in six to eight weeks.

Renew the Virginia PA License

Physician Assistants need to renew their Virginia license every two years in their birth month of odd-numbered years. This can be accomplished online or by completing a paper renewal form. 

The. renewal comes with a $135 fee, and PAs must maintain their NCCPA certification to renew their Virginia license. 

This involves completing 100 credits of continuing medical education (CME) every two years and passing an exam similar to the PANCE, known as the PANRE or Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam, every tenth year.

Physician Assistant Certification Council of Virginia

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants is the only certification provider for physician assistants in Virginia, United States.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Many Physician Assistants are Currently Employed in Virginia?

There are about 2,490 physician assistants currently employed in Virginia.

How many accredited PA schools are in Virginia?

Virginia currently has eight (8) accredited PA schools established to train individuals who want to become physician assistants.

What is the lowest GPA to be considered to get admission into PA schools in Virginia?

The lowest GPA to be considered for schools in Virginia is 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

What’s the average salary of a physician assistant?

The average salary for a Physician Assistant in Virginia is $108,040

Conclusion

Pursuing a career as a physician assistant in Virginia is a rigorous but fulfilling experience. You’ll be trained and equipped with the knowledge and skills to work with or without the supervision of a physician.

Graduates of Virginia PA Schools are guaranteed job opportunities upon graduation. So in choosing a PA school, it is advised you apply to accredited schools that fit your schedule as an individual.

We hope this article helps you make the right decision!

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