Temporary Permits for Graduate Physician Assistants: What You Need to Know

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) has recently received several inquiries from member physicians about the correct way to employ graduates of physician assistant programs in the interim period between graduation and certification.

The State Board of Medicine allows graduate physician assistants to practice between graduation and certification under a temporary permit. The application for a temporary permit can be found here.

Temporary permits are available only to graduates working with allopathic physicians (MDs). The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine does not issue temporary permits; Graduates wishing to work with doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) must wait until they are fully certified. 

Until a graduate completes the permit process and obtains a temporary permit from the Board, the graduate cannot provide medical services or be employed as a physician assistant.

Here's a look at how the temporary permit process works:

  • Applicants for temporary permits must be scheduled to take the first available National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) examination after graduation from their physician assistant program.
  • Temporary permits will expire within 12 months of issuance or upon failure of the NCCPA exam, whichever occurs first.
  • If the permit holder passes the exam, their temporary permit will be transmitted to a license when the Board receives their passing score. The permit holder should ensure that the NCCPA notifies the Board of their passing score. 

According to Pennsylvania statute (63 P.S. § 422.13b), temporary permit holders must practice under direct physician supervision and are not permitted to prescribe or dispense medication. The supervising physician must remain in the same facility at all times while the temporary permit holder is practicing.

Additional Resources

More information on working with Physician Assistants (PAs) and Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNPs) can be found in PAMED's "Practice Guidelines for Physician Assistants & Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners" here. This publication was developed to assist physician practices who are using or are considering using a PA or CRNP, and provides a basic resource for physician practices to understand: licensure, scope of practice, and reimbursement rules and guidelines for these limited license practitioners.

PAMED's Legal Resource Center provides quality, timely legal advocacy and resources for member physicians who practice in Pennsylvania. Visit www.pamedsoc.org/LegalResourceCenter for more details.

PAMED members with questions can also contact our Knowledge Center at 855-PAMED4U (855-726-3348) or KnowledgeCenter@pamedsoc.org.

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