Frequently Asked Questions for Licensees

When do I renew my license?
How much is the renewal fee?
If I don't receive the renewal notice, do I have to pay the renewal fee?
Is a renewal notice required to renew my license?
Can I renew my license on line?
Am I required to complete CME to renew my license?
Am I required to maintain certification from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)?
My license has been renewed but I have not received my renewed wallet certificate. How can I obtain proof that I've renewed my license?
How do I change my address of record?
How do I change my name?
How do I request a license verification?
My wallet certificate was lost, stolen, or destroyed. How do I get a replacement license?
Does my supervising physician need approval to supervise me?
How many PAs can a physician supervise?
What documents are required before I can practice?
What is the scope of my practice?
Can I practice independently?
How much supervision must my supervising physician provide?
Is my supervising physician required to be on-site when I'm practicing?
Am I allowed to write drug orders?
What information must be on my drug order?
Am I allowed to issue drug orders for controlled substances?
Can I use my supervising physician's DEA number on drug orders for controlled substances?
Am I required to have my own DEA number?
Is my supervising physician required to sign all of my patient's medical records?
Can I perform surgery?
Can a PA evaluate a patient for the medical use of Marijuana?
Can medical assistants be supervised by a physician assistant in the absence of a physician and surgeon?

1. When do I renew my license?

Physician assistant licenses are renewed every two years on the last day of your birth month. A courtesy renewal notice is sent to your address of record approximately ten weeks prior to the expiration date. Verify your current address of record and expiration date on-line, or call (916) 561-8780. Processing time for license renewals is six to eight weeks. Click here to renew online.

2. How much is the renewal fee?

$300.00 through March 2014 renewals.

Effective with the April 2014 license renewals, licensees are assessed $6 ANNUALLY ($12 per renewal cycle) which is collected at the time of renewal of the license to cover the operation and maintenance of the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 208 (SB809 DeSaulnier, Chapter 400, Statutes of 2013). The renewal fee will be $312 ($300 + the $12 CURES fee) beginning with the April 2014 renewals.

A $25.00 delinquency fee will be assessed if payment is not post-marked thirty days after the expiration date. However, if your license is not renewed by the expiration date, you may not legally practice in California.

3. If I don't receive the renewal notice, do I have to pay the renewal fee?

Yes. Failure to receive the renewal notice does not relieve you of your responsibility to renew your license prior to the expiration date. If your license is not renewed by the expiration date, you may not legally practice in California.

4. Is a renewal notice required to renew my license?

No. You may renew your license without the renewal notice by:

  1. Mailing a personal check, money order, or cashier check in the amount of $300 (fee through the March 2014 renewals) made payable to Physician Assistant Board to the Physician Assistant Board, 2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1100, Sacramento, CA 95815.
    The renewal fee will be $312 ($300 + the $12 CURES fee) beginning with the April 2014 renewals.
  2. Add $25.00 for the delinquency fee if you are renewing thirty days past the expiration date.
  3. You must include a "License Renewal Application" form, on which you will indicate if you have had any convictions during the past renewal cycle. You can download a copy of the form from the web site www.pac.ca.gov. On the home page under Quick Hits on the left side of the home page, click on Forms/Publications, and then choose the "License Renewal Application." Print a copy of the form, fill it out, sign and date and send along with your check. If we do not receive this form, we cannot process your renewal.
  4. Be sure to include your name, license number, and change of address if applicable. Renewals are accepted for licenses expiring within the next 90 days.
  5. If you wish to have a verification form faxed or mailed to you or your employer, include a check for $10. If we do not receive the $10, we can provide a verbal verification only.

5. Can I renew my license on line?

Yes, click here to renew online.

6. When and why am I required to have continuing medical education to renew my license?

Your two year period to obtain the 50 hours of required CME BEGINS when you renew your license after June 2010.

Effective June 12, 2010, the Physician Assistant Board enacted new regulations (Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations Section 1399.615 et seq.) mandated by Business and Professions Code Section 3524.5 requiring a physician assistant to complete continuing medical education as a condition of license renewal. The requirement may be met by completing 50 hours of medical education every two years or by obtaining certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

A physician assistant who renews his or her license in June 2010 and thereafter is responsible for complying with the new continuing medical education regulations for the renewal cycle and forward. For example, if you are going to renew in December 2010, you will be required to complete 50 hours of CME during the renewal cycle from December 2010 to December 2012. However, if you maintain certification through the NCCPA, then you would satisfy this requirement.

For additional CME information, click HERE

7. Am I required to maintain certification from the NCCPA?

No. California does not currently require that you maintain your national certification for renewal of your physician assistant license. However, the new continuing medical education requirements of 50 CME for each renewal cycle allows licensees who maintain certification from the National Commission during the renewal cycle to use that certification to satisfy this requirement.

For additional CME information, click HERE

8. My license has been renewed but I have not received my renewed wallet certificate. How can I obtain proof that I’ve renewed my license?

Verify your renewed license on-line, or call (916) 561-8780. You may also request that a license verification be faxed or mailed by submitting your request for license verification with the $10 processing fee to the Physician Assistant Board, 2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1100, Sacramento, CA 95815. We are unable to accept credit card payments at this time.

9. How do I change my address of record?

Address changes must be submitted to the Board by either submitting an address change on-line via fax, or by mailing in a written change of address. You may obtain an address change request by accessing www.pac.ca.gov and clicking on the tab "Licensees". You can also find the link on the home page under Quick Hits.

If you want a replacement wallet certificate with the new address, you must submit an online Request for a Duplication or download a Request for a Duplicate License form with the $10 fee to the board.

10. How do I change my name?

Name changes must be submitted in writing with supporting documentation, such as copy of marriage certificate, divorce decree, legal name change or naturalization papers. There is a $20 fee for replacement certificates, $10 each for the wallet and wall certificates. You can request a name change online, download the form, or call (916) 561-8780.

11. How do I request a license verification?

You can verify your license status on-line, or call (916) 561-8780. You may request that a license verification be faxed or mailed by submitting a written request for license verification with the $10 processing fee to the Physician Assistant Board, 2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1100, Sacramento, CA 95815. The fee should be paid by check or money order. We are unable to accept credit card payments at this time.

12. My wallet certificate was lost, stolen, or destroyed. How do I get a replacement license?

The fee is $10 and you may submit an online Request for Duplicate, download the Request for a Duplicate form, or call (916) 561-8780 to request the form.

13. Does my supervising physician need approval to supervise me?

No. Any physician (either M.D. or D.O.) may supervise a PA if they have a current medical license and there are no disciplinary or probationary conditions on the physician's license prohibiting the physician from supervising a PA.

14. How many PAs can a physician supervise?

Current law limits a physician to supervising no more than four PAs at any moment in time.

15. What documents are required before I can practice?

Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations section 1399.540 requires the supervising physician to delegate in writing those medical services that the PA may provide. This document is often referred to as a Delegation of Services Agreement.

The Delegation of Services Agreement defines exactly what tasks and procedures a physician is delegating to the PA. These tasks and procedures must be consistent with the supervising physician's specialty or usual and customary practice and with the patient's health. The agreement must be completed before you start practicing. The document does not need to be submitted to the board.

You can obtain the sample delegation of services agreement on-line, or call (916) 561-8780.

16. What is the scope of my practice?

Article 4 of the Board's regulations addresses PA practice. You may want to review Title 16, California Code of Regulations sections 1399.540 through 1399.546 for information regarding the supervision of PAs.

The scope of a given PA's practice is limited by his/her supervising physician. Whatever medical specialty a physician practices (e.g., general practice, cardio-thoracic surgery, dermatology, etc.) limits your scope of practice. The Delegation of Services Agreement between you and your supervising physician then further defines exactly what tasks and procedures are being delegated to you. These tasks and procedures must be consistent with your supervising physician's specialty or usual and customary practice and with the patient's health and condition.

Before authorizing a PA to perform any medical procedure, the physician is responsible for evaluating your education, experience, knowledge, and ability to perform the procedure safely and competently.

A PA may not perform any of the following medical services pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 3502 (c):

  • The determination of the refractive states of the eye, or the fitting or adaptation of lenses or frames.
  • The prescribing or directing the use of, or using any optical device in connection with ocular exercises, visual training or orthoptics.
  • The prescribing, fitting or adaptation of contact lenses.
  • The practice of dentistry or dental hygiene or the work of a dental auxiliary.

A PA may perform a routine visual screening defined pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 3501 (i) as an uninvasive nonpharmacological simple testing for visual acuity, visual field defects, color blindness, and depth perception.

17. Can I practice independently?

No, you cannot practice independently. Every PA must be supervised by a licensed physician (either M.D. or D.O.). The supervising physician is responsible for all medical services provided by a PA under his/her supervision and for following each patient's progress.

18. How much supervision must my supervising physician provide?

You and your supervising physician must establish written guidelines for your supervision. Your supervising physician may choose one or more of the following four mechanisms to provide supervision as required by Section 1399.545 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations.

  1. The physician sees the patients the same day that they are treated by the PA.
  2. The physician reviews, signs and dates the medical record of every patient treated by the physician assistant within thirty days of the treatment.
  3. The physician adopts written protocols which specifically guide the actions of the PA. The physician must select, review, sign and date at least 5% of the medical records of patients treated by the physician assistant according to those protocols within 30 days.
  4. Or, in special circumstances, the physician provides supervision through another mechanism approved in advance by the Board.

19. Is my supervising physician required to be on-site when I'm practicing?

No, your supervising physician is not required to be on site but must be available in person or by electronic communication at all times when you are caring for patients.

20. Am I allowed to write drug orders?

Yes. Business and Professions Code section 3502.1 authorizes PAs to issue a drug order. PAs may also administer or provide medication to a patient. The supervising physician must authorize that authority to you in the delegation of services agreement. When issuing a drug order, you are acting on behalf of and as an agent for your supervising physician.

Before you can issue drug orders, your supervising physician must first prepare and adopt a written, practice specific, formulary and protocols that specify all criteria for the use of a particular drug or device and any contraindications. The drugs listed constitute the formulary and may only include drugs that are appropriate for use in the practice.

Any variations require advance approval from your supervising physician for the particular patient before issuing a drug order.

21. What information must be on my drug order?

Business and Professions Code section 3502.1 (d) requires that a PA's written drug order contain the printed name, address, and phone number of the supervising physician, and the signature, printed or stamped name, and license number of the PA. If the drug order is for a controlled substance, it must also include your DEA number.

22. Am I allowed to issue drug orders for controlled substances?

Yes, you may issue drugs orders for Schedule II through V controlled substances if your supervising physician delegates that authority to you. However, you may not administer, provide or issue a drug order for Schedule II through V controlled substances, including refills, without advance approval by your supervising physician for the particular patient, unless you have completed an approved education course in controlled substances and if delegated by a supervising physician. The medical record of any patient for a Schedule II drug order must be reviewed, countersigned, and dated by your supervising physician within 7 days.

If you are authorized to issue drug orders for controlled substances, you must register with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and obtain a DEA number.

23. Can I use my supervising physician's DEA number on drug orders for controlled substances?

PAs that are authorized to issue drug orders for controlled substances must register with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and obtain their own DEA number.

24. Am I required to have my own DEA number?

Yes, if your supervising physician has delegated you the authority to issue drug orders for controlled substances, you must register with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and obtain a DEA number.

25. Is my supervising physician required to sign all of my patient's medical records?

It depends on the method of supervision used by the physician.

If your supervising physician adopts written protocols that specifically guide the action of the PA, the physician must select, review, sign and date at least 5% of the medical records of patients treated by you within 30 days, pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 3502.

If protocols are not in place, then your supervising physician must either:

  1. examine the patient the same day as the care is provided by the PA or;
  2. countersign and date all medical records of all patients cared for by the PA within 30 days.

26. Can I perform surgery?

Yes. If your supervising physician delegates the authority to you, you may perform surgical procedures under local anesthesia without the personal presence of your supervising physician. You may perform surgical procedures requiring other forms of anesthesia only in the personal presence of your supervising physician. You may act as first or second assistant in surgery under the supervising of the supervising physician.

27. Can a PA evaluate a patient for the medical use of Marijuana?

A PA can evaluate a patient consistent with the PA's delegation of services agreement. However, only a physician is authorized to recommend medical use of marijuana pursuant to Health and Safety code section 11362.5.

Health and Safety Code section 11362.7 (a) sets forth the definition of "attending physician" for purposes of the Compassionate Use Act. It states that the attending physician shall complete a medical examination before providing a recommendation for medical marijuana (emphasis added). A physician assistant may perform an examination and give an evaluation of the patient. In addition to personally completing the medical examination, the attending physician himself or herself must record in the patient's medical record their assessment of whether the patient has a serious medical condition and whether the medical use of marijuana is appropriate. It is the Physician Assistant Committee's understanding that these responsibilities must be performed by the attending physician and cannot be delegated to a physician assistant.

For additional information about Medical Marijuana Program, please visit the Department of Public Health website at: www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/MMP/Pages/default.aspx

For additional information for physicians who wish to recommend medical marijuana as part of their regular practice of medicine please visit the Medical Board of California's website at: http://www.mbc.ca.gov/Licensees/Prescribing/Medical_Marijuana.aspx.

28. Can medical assistants be supervised by a physician assistant in the absence of a physician and surgeon?

Under the provisions of Business and Professions Code section 2069(a)(1), a medical assistant may administer medication only by intradermal, subcutaneous, or intramuscular injections and perform skin tests and additional technical supportive services upon the specific authorization and supervision of a licensed physician and surgeon or a licensed podiatrist. A medical assistant may also perform all these tasks and services upon the specific authorization of a physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, or a certified nurse-midwife. However, supervision of a medical assistant for the above-mentioned tasks and supportive services may be delegated to the physician assistant under newly enacted provisions located at Section 2069(a)(2) of the Business and Professions Code, which states:

The supervising physician and surgeon may, at his or her discretion, in consultation with the nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or physician assistant, provide written instructions to be followed by a medical assistant in the performance of tasks or supportive services. These written instructions may provide that the supervisory function for the medical assistant for these tasks or supportive services may be delegated to the nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, or physician assistant within the standardized procedures or protocol, and that tasks may be performed when the supervising physician and surgeon is not onsite, if either of the following apply:

  • The nurse practitioner or certified nurse-midwife is functioning pursuant to standardized procedures, as defined by Section 2725, or protocol. The standardized procedures or protocol, including instructions for specific authorizations, shall be developed and approved by the supervising physician and surgeon and the nurse practitioner or certified nurse-midwife.
  • The physician assistant is functioning pursuant to regulated services defined in Section 3502, including instructions for specific authorizations, and is approved to do so by the supervising physician and surgeon.

Additionally, Business and Professions Code Section 2069(b)(3) states that, “Supervision” means the supervision of procedures authorized by this section by the following practitioners, within the scope of their respective practices, who shall be physically present in the treatment facility during the performance of those procedures:

  • A licensed physician and surgeon
  • A licensed podiatrist
  • A physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or certified nurse-midwife

Business and Professions Code Section 2069(b)(2) states,  “Specific authorization” means a specific written order prepared by the supervising physician and surgeon or the supervising podiatrist, or the physician assistant, the nurse practitioner, or the certified nurse-midwife as provided in subdivision (a), authorizing the procedures to be performed on a patient, which shall be placed in the patient’s medical record, or a standing order prepared by the supervising physician and surgeon or the supervising podiatrist, or the physician assistant, the nurse practitioner, or the certified nurse-midwife as provided in subdivision (a), authorizing the procedures to be performed, the duration of which shall be consistent with accepted medical practice. A notation of the standing order shall be placed on the patient’s medical record.

For further information concerning medical assistants, visit the Medical Board of California's website at: http://www.mbc.ca.gov/licensees/physicians_and_surgeons/medical_assistants