All 50 states have enacted legislation establishing some type of regulatory mechanism for physician assistants. Every state has a unique set of requirements and procedures. Most states grant "licenses" to physician assistants. However, some states use the terms registration or certification for PAs who are authorized to practice in the state. Forty-six states plus the District of Columbia and Guam allow physicians to delegate prescriptive authority to PAs.*
PAs who work for the federal government are generally not required to have state license. However, each federal employer of PAs (such as Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the military) has its own requirements for PA practice. If you plan to work for a branch of the federal government, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are appropriately credentialed by your federal employer before you begin work.
Two distinct statutory models have emerged.
- One type of law, referred to as the general delegatory statute, stipulates in the state's medical practice act the physician's right to delegate tasks to an appropriately trained assistant.
- The other type, the regulatory authority statute, authorizes a specific organizational entity, such as a board of medical examiners, to establish rules and regulations with respect to a PA's educational and employment qualifications, and in some cases to approve the employment of a PA by a specific physician based upon a job description submitted by the employing physician.
- Legislation affecting the employment of PAs in the State of Michigan is of the former, general delegatory type.
- Some new graduates find the language in state law or the process itself confusing. The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) has summarized the state laws and legal requirements for new graduates. This summary may be requested from the AAPA.
For more specific information about Physician Assistant Legislation in the State of Michigan, go to www.michiganpa.org.
Page last modified July 27, 2011