After PA School


You’ve graduated. What next?

The transition from PA student to working PA-C can be stressful and confusing. There are several things you need to accomplish or obtain before you can practice the full scope of your abilities. To make matters worse, this process varies by state and can change over time. The best source of information is from your state/local professional organizations. However, there are some general steps you can count on taking.

Nearly every PA will need to 1) Become nationally certified (by the NCCPA via the PANCE), 2) Obtain a state license (in the state in which you wish to practice), 3)Obtain an NPI number and 4) obtain a federal DEA number. Most hospitals also have their own privileging process with a variety of requirements in addition to the steps mentioned above. Keep in mind that some of these requirements are step-wise and must be completed in a particular order with processing and wait times in between. Try to start this process as early as possible as to not delay your employment.

In addition, while many employers will reimburse the slew of fees and costs associated with this process, new graduates often have to pay up front and wait for the funds later. If you don’t have savings (as most students won’t), consider obtaining a credit card with 0% interest (many companies offer this incentive for the first 6 or 12 months) to hold these fees until your employer reimburses you.



National Provider Number (NPI)

Federal DEA Number

  1. DEA Form 224: New Application for Retail Pharmacy, Hospital/Clinic, Practitioner, Teaching Institution, or Mid-Level Practitioner.
  2. Fee: $731 every 3 years
  1. Tax ID number and/or Social Security Number
  2. State Controlled Substance Registration Information
  3. State Medical License Information
  4. Credit Card (VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express)

State Board of Registration

State Chapter Websites

Job Search Spots

Paying for PA School

An excellent, comprehensive informational tool on loan repayment. Geared toward medical students, but much of the information is applicable to PA students as well. This site offers information on loan repayment apps and links to great repayment options.

  1. Loan Repayment Programs: U.S. Airforce;U.S. Army; U.S. Navy
  2. NHSC Loan Repayment Program
  3. Indian Health Service Program
  4. U.S. Public Health Service Corps
  1. Federal and state-funded programs
  2. Research-related loan repayment programs
  3. For students committed to family practice

Post Grad Programs (PA Residency Programs):

Contract and Negotiations 

CMEs – What You Need to Know

“In 2014, the NCCPA moved to a new 10-year certification maintenance process.  This process involves five two-year cycles, and all certified PAs must log 100 CME credits each cycle. You must also submit a $130 certification maintenance fee by December 31st of the year of your certification expiration. Of the 100 credits which must be logged ever 2 years, at least 50 must be Category 1 CME credits. Furthermore, 20 of these 50 Category 1 CMEs must be self-assessment and/or performance improvement CMEs. Keep in mind that CME requirements may vary by state licensure. You can find further details on the certification process at NCCPA

Quick Facts:

  1. Title of the program
  2. Provider – the organization that is administering the program
  3. Number of credits
  4. Sponsor – the organization that designates the program for CME credit.

“Under the new certification maintenance, PAs will still have to earn 100 CME credits every two years, but two new categories will be added called self-assessment and Performance Improvement CME (PI-CME). Within the 50 credits required for category I, 20 of them will have to be earned via a self assessment or PI-CME activity. In addition, the requirement for the recertification exam will be extended to every 10 years.”

Frequently Asked Questions for New Grad

Where to get CME:

Finding the Right Physician Teammate

Join Professional Organizations

Below are the Top 10 Reasons that we think it is important to become a member of the AAPA, The Society of Early Career PAs, your state chapter, and/or specialty organization. Many times your job will reimburse you for “Professional Organization Membership” – if not, you can try to negotiate to get these fees covered annually.

  1. Help and advice when you need it- As a new PA-C, you will run into a plethora of issues that were never covered in school: Can I bill for patient phone calls? My supervising doc said s/he needs to co-sign all my charts – is that true? Do I need any special CME’s to get my state license? The AAPA and your state chapter can help address many of these concerns and allow you to focus on treating patients.
  2. Protect your rights to practice as a PA- Professional organizations are the only groups that consistently advocate for the rights of the PA profession. Your membership dues help the legislative efforts that help protect your right to practice as a PA. They allow PAs to contribute to the national healthcare discussion. Remember: if you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu.
  3. Networking- Take advantage of all of those pioneering PAs who came before you. They are great resources and friends to have as you start your career.
  4. CME conferences- The AAPA, your state chapter, and specialty organizations generally hold CME conferences annually. This is a great opportunity complete most of your CME hours in 2-5 days and meet other PAs from around the country.
  5. Perks- Many professional organizations offer perks to their members such as discounts on journals, car rentals, hotels, etc.
  6. Leadership Opportunities- By being a member of one of the aforementioned organizations you have the opportunity to run for a leadership position and make a significant and lasting impact on your profession.
  7. Salary Information- When it is time to negotiate your salary, these organizations are an excellent resource to gain objective salary data to bring to the table.
  8. Job Postings- Most organizations have job postings.
  9. Opportunity to publish- You could publish in sponsored journals, magazines, newsletters and websites.
  10. Opportunity to get involved in the community. Get help starting or promoting community projects. Learn about causes that need advocates.

The AAPA is currently running a GREAT deal for new graduates! If you sign up as a Fellow AAPA member within 1 year of graduation you get $150 off your 1st year of Fellow dues! Use the following coupon code to take advantage! NEWGRAD