Department of Consumer Affairs Physician Assistant Board

Frequently Asked Questions for Physician Assistant Applicants

What are the qualifications to become licensed as a physician assistant in California?
How can I obtain an application for licensure?
Is fingerprinting required for licensure?
I already have been fingerprinted previously; can the Physician Assistant access those prints?
What fees do I include when I submit my application?
How long does it take to process my application?
What convictions am I required to disclose on the application?
Is my application automatically approved when complete?
What happens if my application is denied?
What do I have to do once my application for licensure is approved?
How long is my license valid?
When is my application considered abandoned?

1. What are the qualifications to become licensed as a physician assistant in California?

  • Complete an approved physician assistant training program. See the list of approved physician assistant training programs.
  • Take and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Information on the PANCE is available on the NCCPA's Web site at www.nccpa.net.

2. How can I obtain an application for licensure?

You may obtain an application for licensure by:

3. Is fingerprinting required for licensure?

  • Yes. Pursuant to Section 144 of the California Business and Professions Code, applicants are required to furnish their fingerprints for purposes of conducting a criminal history record check through the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
  • Applicants residing in California must use Live Scan services for the fingerprint process. The Live Scan form is included in the application packet or may be downloaded from the board web site. A list of Applicant Live Scan Sites is available on the Department of Justice's Web site at oag.ca.gov.
  • Applicants residing outside of California that are unable to use Live Scan services in California, must use fingerprint cards furnished by the board. You may email the board at pacommittee@mbc.ca.gov or call (916) 561-8780 to request fingerprint cards.

4. I already have been fingerprinted previously; can the Physician Assistant access those prints?

No. Federal law allows criminal history information to be released only to the agency that requested it. You will need to undergo the fingerprinting and criminal history check process again specifically for the Physician Assistant Board.

5. What fees do I include when I submit my application?

The application fee to apply for licensure is $25 and the initial licensure fee is $200. Therefore, if you are using Live Scan services to submit fingerprints, you will pay the fingerprint processing fee directly to the Live Scan operation. You would submit a total of $225 to the board.

If you reside outside of California or are unable to get your fingerprints processed using Live Scan, then you would submit your application for licensure with a set of two fingerprint cards with the fee of $274 ($25 application fee, $49 for fingerprint processing, and $200 initial licensure fee).

6. How long does it take to process my application?

You will be notified of the status of your application, including any deficiencies, within 28 days from the date your application is received. Your application is considered complete once all required forms, documentation, FBI and DOJ criminal record clearances, and appropriate fees have been received.

Once the application is complete, the length of time it takes to make a decision about the application varies depending on the applicant's individual history.

7. What convictions am I required to disclose on the application?

All. You must include any conviction, even if it has been set aside and dismissed or expunged, or where a stay of execution has been issued. For any conviction, you must submit all official certified arrest (including police reports) and hearing/court documents and include a detailed written narrative description of the incident that led to the conviction.

Applicants should be aware that the Board receives information regarding actions that have been dismissed or expunged, and the application form advise applicants to disclose all prior convictions including those that have been dismissed or expunged. In addition, the Board will be notified of all future criminal actions through subsequent rap sheets by the DOJ and/or the FBI.

Failure to disclose a conviction is grounds for denial of an application. See next question for additional information.

If you are uncertain about how to answer any question on the application, you should consult legal counsel.

It might be wiser to disclose too much information than be caught in a misunderstanding.

8. Is my application automatically approved when complete?

No. Section 480 of the Business and Professions Code authorizes the board to deny an application for licensure as a physician assistant. An applicant may be denied licensure for the following reasons:

  • Knowingly making a false statement of fact, or knowingly omitting to state a material fact in an application for licensure.
  • Conviction of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a physician assistant.
  • Commission of any act involving dishonesty, fraud, or deceit with the intent to substantially benefit himself or another, or substantially injure another.
  • Commission of any act, which if performed by a licentiate of the business or profession in question, would be grounds for suspension or revocation of the license.

If your application is denied, you will be notified in writing of the reason(s) for the denial. More Information regarding the denial of an application.

9. What happens if my application is denied?

If your application is denied, you will be notified in writing of the reason(s) for the denial.

You may request a hearing under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 1500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code. You must make the request for hearing in writing within 60 days after service of the denial letter. Unless the written request for a hearing is made within the 60-day period, your right to a hearing is deemed waived.

If, after your application is denied, you decide not to request a hearing or not to pursue licensure, you may reapply one year from the date of the denial letter.

More Information regarding denial of an application.

10. What do I have to do once my application for licensure is approved?

After your license application is approved, your license will be issued. You may determine whether a PA license has been issued to you by checking the website under "Verify a License." Once a license number has been issued to you, you may begin practice in California as a physician assistant. After a license has been issued, it takes about four weeks to receive both the wall certificate and plastic pocket card bearing your license number.

11. How long is my license valid?

Once your license is issued it will be valid until the last day of your second birth month after licensure. Therefore, your license initially may be valid for as few as thirteen months depending upon when you reach the second birth month after licensure. Thereafter, it will expire biennially during the month of your birthday. The expiration is based on your birth month and not your birth date.

If you wait until close to your birth month to apply for licensure, then your license may be valid for a full 24-month period. Should you choose to be licensed as soon as possible, your license may be valid for as few as 13 months depending upon when you reach the second birth month after licensure.

12. When is my application considered abandoned?

Your application is considered abandoned if you do not complete the application process, provide the requested documents or information, or submit the required fees within one year from the date of filing or written request by the board pursuant to Title 16, Division 13.8, Section 1399.512 (d) of the California Code of Regulations.