Different physician assistant schools vary drastically from one option to the next. In addition to considering traditional schools, you will find a number of distance education providers that can offer the education you need. But first you have to compare a classroom experience vs. a physician assistant online school.

Physician assistant schools that offer online courses are considered “distance education” providers. That is, they offer standard education for those interested in becoming PAs, but do so in a virtual format that does not require you to be present in a physical classroom. This offers immense benefits to a wide range of students, especially for those who fall in a nontraditional student category because they already hold full-time jobs that prevent them from enrolling in the typical daytime classes.

Physician assistant online schools provide their coursework, lectures, and other information over the Internet, so students can access it from their home computer at times that are convenient to them. These programs allow students access to the classes and educational material they require regardless of their schedules.

Is an online school right for you?

The answer to that question is “maybe.” The reason for that ambiguity is that online schools vary in terms of quality and state licensing requirement adherence. Some schools provide the best education possible and are comparable to the top traditional schools in the nation. Other schools are little more than shams and must be avoided at all costs. So you must do your homework before enrolling in a physician assistant online school.

Accreditation: Perhaps the most important thing to do is check that any physician assistant online schools you are considering are accredited. Accreditation is a deal-breaker. Without it, you can be left with a piece of paper that is not recognized by any medical institutions or physicians, and all your money and time will have been wasted. So look for online programs that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

You should also verify that the school provides an education that best prepares you for the physician assistant certification exam. The NCCPA administers two physician assistant certification exams: the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) are exams that must be taken by all physician assistants. While physician assistant requirements are similar in all states, it’s vital that the school you choose offers a program that adheres to the specific education and training requirements in your state so that you can pass the licensing exam after graduating.

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