Best Physician Assistant Programs in Virginia in 2023

Do you want to study PA in Virginia and thus look for the best Physician Assistant programs in Virginia to go for?

This article discusses everything you need to know about studying and becoming a Physician Assistant in Virginia. Continue to read for detailed information on becoming a PA in Virginia.

In the 2019 General Assembly session, Virginia legislators voted to give physician assistants autonomy in their scope of practice. This freed the physician assistants from current stipulations or rule that states they may only practice under the supervision of a licensed doctor.

It has become easier for you to fulfill your dream of being a PA in Virginia. Further in this article, we will discuss Virginia’s best PA programs.

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Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants

As a PA in Virginia, you must be registered with the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants. The Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants maintains an active job board where you can look for positions both inside and outside the Old Dominion State.

This organization also offers continuing education classes, which physician assistants must take to maintain their licensure in Virginia.

How Do I Become a PA in Virginia?

How to become a PA in Virginia.

Becoming a PA in Virginia is easy, especially with the right qualifications. These professionals work in Virginia, saving lives every day. These could be through offering encouragement, tips on improving healthy living, screening, or conducting physical exams.

Also, Pas assists directly in surgery. Continue to read to discover how to become a PA in Virginia.

Here are a few simple steps to take – How to become a PA in Virginia

  1. Find accredited Virginia Physician Assistant programs for licensure – we have provided a list of the top 20 PA programs in Virginia
  2. Take and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
  3. Apply for a PA license with the Virginia Board of Medicine
  4. Make renewal for the Virginia PA license as needed

STEP 1: Find Accredited Virginia/Best Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

Before choosing a Virginia Physician Assistant program, you must consider admission requirements and accreditation.

Generally, PA programs strongly prefer and reward candidates with a good grade point average or hands-on experience working with patients in the healthcare industry.

Also, candidates with Bachelor’s degrees are strongly preferred too. This degree could be in the following undergraduate degrees:

  • Medical assistant
  • Health
  • Public health
  • Medicine

You must graduate from PA programs approved by American Medical Association (AMA) and the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)

STEP 2: Take and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)

This is a five-hour test mandatory for all Pas who desire to practice in Virginia. Sponsored by the National Commission of Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), it awards successful and outstanding candidates with Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) credentials.

The PANCE costs $475, and candidates can register three months before they graduate from their PA degree program.

STEP 3: Apply for a PA License with the Virginia Board of Medicine

Making a complete application for this will require the following:

  • Licensure Application

$130 application fee

  • The certificate of PA Program Education is to be completed by the institution and sent to the Board

PANCE scores and PA-C are to be sent by the NCCPA to the Board

Also, you may need to submit the following with your application:

$15 Application for PA Practice. This includes:

  • Prescriptive authority request
  • Scope of practice
  • Supervising hospital or physician

These applications are usually processed in six to eight weeks.

STEP 4: Make renewal for the Virginia PA license as needed

PA license renewal is made every two years in the licensee’s birth month or odd-numbered years. The renewal can be completed online and requires a renewal fee of $135.

Also, maintaining the NCCPA certification is essential to renew your PA license. This involves completing  100 Continuing Medical Evolution (MEC) credits every two years.

Also, passing the Physician Assistant National Rectifying Exam (PANRE) is required.

What Certifications Can Get a PA?

Want to know the certifications that can get a PA? Here are the best 20 Physician Assistant certifications.

  1. Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C)
  2. Medical Assistant
  3. Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)
  4. Emergency Medicine
  5. Certification in Pediatric Anesthesiology (PA)
  6. Basic Life Support (BLS)
  7. Family Medicine
  8. Surgery
  9. Pediatrics
  10. Certified Medical Interpreter – Spanish (CMI)
  11. Registered Medical Assistant
  12. Certification in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  13. Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (NHA)
  14. The Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
  15. Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP)
  16. The Certified Physician Assistant (PANCE)
  17. Medical Examiner Certification
  18. Nationally Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
  19. Certification in Pediatrics
  20. Certified Surgical Assistant

What is the Length & Tuition Fee For the Best Physician Assistant Programs in Virginia?

How long does it take to study for PA in Virginia? What is the cost of studying PA programs in Virginia?

Physician assistant programs in Virginia run for 27 months to 36 months. At the end of the program, you will earn a master’s degree.

Tuition fee ranges from $23,000 in a public school (especially when you are a resident of Virginia) to $85,500 at a private university.

What is the Nature of the Courses Offered by Virginia’s Best Physician Assistant Programs?

PA coursework in schools in Virginia is equally divided between classroom instruction and experimental learning, which can be done in hospitals, ambulatory care clinics, and community health agencies.

Also, you’ll study many of the basic topics taught in medical school, such as haematology, cardiology, emergency medicine, fundamentals of medical history taking and the legal stipulations the legislation of Virginia places upon your field of practice. This helps you to be well-balanced in terms of the knowledge base.

What is the Average Salary for Physician Assistants in Virginia?

Are you wondering how much PAs earn in Virginia? Here’s a simple breakdown of how much Physician Assistants earn in Virginia.

In Virginia, you can earn approximately $100,000 a year on average as a physician assistant. There’s variation in the levels of physician assistant salary in Virginia: Hospital physician assistants may be compensated at a higher rate, particularly if they work swing shifts or night shifts where they’re paid a differential.

Physician assistants command huge benefit packages that typically include health care insurance, retirement savings options, and paid leave.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PAs earn:

  • Hourly: $47.76
  • Monthly: $8,28
  • Annual: $99,340

Best Physician Assistant Programs in Virginia

1. Shenandoah University, Winchester

Shenandoah University offers a dual Physician Assistant degree program. It has been regarded as a top PA University in Virginia. The institution operates small-sized classes and individualized mentorship, which prepares you for the challenges of patient care. 

The PA dual degree is 15 credits loads shared between the PA and MPH courses. Coupled with a MA in PA Studies, making it 86-credit load coursework, summing everything up to 115 credit units. 

The MS-PAS coursework is broken down into two stages. The first stage runs for 16 months in didactic courses, followed by 14 months of clinical training in various settings.

With the dual degree, you complete 30 months of the PA coursework in the classroom and then take two MPH courses.

2. Eastern Virginia Medical School – Norfolk

Eastern Virginia Medical School is among Virginia’s best physician assistant PA institutions. The coursework in this institution is modeled after the medical school curriculum.

Furthermore, to give back to the community, the college provides PA students several volunteer opportunities through community-engaged experiential learning.

The master studies of physician assistant program in Virginia runs for 28 consecutive months, beginning with 16 months in didactic training, followed by 14 months of supervised direct patient care experiences.

During the first stage of the program, didactic courses complement simulation learning at the college’s Sentara Center for Simulation & Immersive Learning. In the second stage, you will undergo clinical training at various sites throughout Hampton Roads. 

To graduate, you must complete a total of 99.5 credits through which you will learn the business of medicine, foundations of interprofessional practice, patient counseling & education, medical diagnostics, clinical medicine, legal & medical ethical issues in medicine, and evidence-based medicine.

3. James Madison University – Harrisonburg

James Madison University is undoubtedly one of the best PA schools in Virginia. This PA school is a popular choice among aspiring physician assistants because of some substantial reasons, which are; engaged learning, community & civic engagement, and the option of completing a 4-week clinical rotation in Peru.

Additionally, the college takes pride in small-sized classes, high PANCE pass rates, and helping all of its graduates’ secure suitable placements within six months of completing the program. Is that not wonderful? 

 It further engages you in learning opportunities by providing direct patient care under the supervision of a licensed physician assistant at its free medical clinic.

The physician assistant program in Virginia comprises 103-course credit units. During the first four semesters of the program, you will take didactic courses in human anatomy, pathophysiology, physical diagnosis, clinical medicine, pharmacology, medical biostatistics, the healthcare environment, physical diagnosis, pharmacology, and diagnostic methods.

You will also learn about women’s medicine, behavioural medicine, paediatrics medicine, research design & implementation, and health promotion & disease prevention.

After that, you will  proceed to the clinical rotations, which will take you through various specialties, including family medicine, primary care, internal medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics, general surgery, emergency & behavioural 

4. University of Lynchburg – Lynchburg

This PA school prepares you with evidence-based knowledge to serve diverse patient populations, primarily focusing on the underserved and vulnerable areas. Here, the small-sized classes, modular organ-based format, training in sonography, and wide-ranging clinical experiences make this program a rather sought-after choice.

Additionally, the advanced simulation learning at its state-of-art lab, including an anatomy lab fitted with 21 cadaver stations, helps enhance critical thinking and clinical decision-making skills. 

Unlike most PA programs in Virginia that takes you through two phases, this program takes you through three phases; didactic learning, clinical rotations, and the final one month of the summative phase.

In the first 12 months of didactic training, you will be taught basic concepts in medical practice, critical thinking in medicine, human anatomy, pathophysiology, physical diagnosis, pharmacotherapeutics, social & cultural aspects of healthcare, health ethics, and medical informatics.

After that, you enter the second stage, which is 14 months of clinical training, where your complete rotations in various specialities. Afterwards, you go into the summative stage, which runs for one month.

5. Emory & Henry College – Emory – Best Physician Assistant Programs in Virginia

Emory & Henry College’s PA program is an excellent option to acquire relevant professional skills in evidence-based medicine, leadership, and primary care. Its student-centric approach and small-sized classes make learning effective and engaging so that when you leave the college, you are equipped with the tools to excel as a primary care provider. 

The college complements its clinical training with didactic courses, starting with clinical experiences as early as the second semester. 

The college offers full-time on-campus coursework and requires you to complete all the courses with a minimum grade of C. The course work, like other schools in Virginia, is divided into two stages.

The first 14 months of this program mainly consist of completing didactic courses in medical physiology, pharmacology, clinical medicine, behavioural medicine & psychiatry, emergency medicine and advanced clinical & surgical procedures.

Unlike other physician assistant programs in Virginia, you will start with patient care experiences right here in this first stage of didactic courses.

So, your theoretical experience will be complemented by having you undergo clinical training in the lab and assist in treating patients at the college’s free clinic. This exposure can help prepare you for what to expect in the next stage.   

6. Radford University Carilion – Roanoke

Radford University Carilion’s PA program accepts students from various disciplines. So, as a student, you could be rubbing shoulders with other members of your cohort who are nurses, medical assistants, respiratory therapists, or mental health counsellors. 

The university’s PA education is based on evidence-based medicine and emphasises interprofessional collaboration.

Here, apart from engaging in didactic lectures, case scenarios, simulation technology, and supervised patient care experiences, the college also fosters participation in professional conferences to develop a strong network.

If you choose to actively involve yourself in these professional activities, you can even hold a leadership position at the national level.

This PA program boasts of high pass rates on the certification exam and ensures that you as a PA student gets successful placement of its graduates. Therefore, it is known as one of the best Physician Assistant schools in Virginia.

7. South University, Richmond – Glen Allen

South University, Richmond is one of the best PA schools in Virginia that not only prepares you to excel on the certifying exam but also trains you as a compassionate caregiver who is committed to serving the community.

The PA coursework comprises of 174-course load that runs for 27 months. The didactic courses require completing 100 credits, and through the clinical rotations, you will earn the remaining 74 credits of the program.

On the other hand, the clinical phase includes eight core rotations in various specialities, three electives based on your interest, and finally, towards the end of the program, a capstone course.

8. Mary Baldwin University – Staunton

Whether you intend to practice in the ‘Old Dominion’ state or anywhere else in the country, by gaining skills in team-based interprofessional collaboration and leadership, you will be able to explore a wide variety of job avenues.

The PA course comprises 15 months of didactic courses, followed by 12 months of clinical training. During the first stage of didactic training, you go through intensive lectures, interprofessional group discussions, case studies skill scenarios, and hospital-based experiences.

The 73-credit didactic curriculum takes you through courses in clinical medicine, human anatomy, lab & physical diagnosis, critical inquiry, research & epidemiology, ethics & populations, clinical skills, and procedures.

Also, the following 12 months, where you complete 49 credits in clinical rotations, require you to undergo rotations at various clinical sites, with each rotation lasting for six weeks.

The clinical phase also includes an elective rotation and advanced comprehensive assessment, before you finally graduate with a master’s degree.

These are our complete lists of the best PA programs in Virginia for 2023.


The state of Virginia is one of the best states to study Physician Assistant in the US. If you are yet to apply for any school as an intending PA student, do go back and read through.

This article answers most questions you might be needing answers to relating to the best physician assistant programs in Virginia. Before you begin your applications to any program, ensure you have visited the program/university’s website to read comprehensive information.

What certifications can get a PA?

1.       Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C)
2.       Medical Assistant
3.       Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA)
4.       Emergency Medicine
5.       Certification in Pediatric Anesthesiology (PA)
6.       Basic Life Support (BLS)
7.       Family Medicine
8.       Surgery
9.       Pediatrics
10.   Certified Medical Interpreter – Spanish (CMI)
11.   Registered Medical Assistant
12.   Certification in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
13.   Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (NHA)
14.   Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
15.   Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP)
16.   Certified Physician Assistant (PANCE)
17.   Medical Examiner Certification
18.   Nationally Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA)
19.   Certification in Pediatrics
20.   Certified Surgical Assistant

Is a Physician Assistant above a Nurse practitioner?

Basically, a Physician Assistant is a medical professional with advanced education and training as a Physician. On the other hand, a Nurse practitioner is a Registered Nurse (RN) with an advanced education and clinical training.

No is above the other. They are both professionals trained to work in the healthcare sector.

Can a PA open their own practice?

No, Physician Assistants cannot open their own practice. They must be supervised by of a trained Physician.

How long does it take to get a PA license in Virginia?

It takes between 6-8 weeks to get a PA license in Virginia.
However, it may take longer depending on the required documentation or some other circumstances.

Can you work as a PA without being certified?

No, you can’t work as a PA without being certified. You will need to get a license before you can practice.


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