Master's Degrees in Surgical Assisting

Accredited master's degree programs in surgical assisting are extremely rare; however, a number of schools do offer graduate-level programs in physician assistant studies. Read about master's degree programs for prospective physician assistants, including degree and licensing requirements, prerequisites and options for online study. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Earn a Master's Degree in Surgical Assisting?

Surgical assistants work under the supervision of surgeons and provide assistance during surgical procedures as well as during pre- and post-op. Education programs in surgical assisting most commonly result in an undergraduate certificate, however while rare, it is possible to find a Master of Surgical Assisting (MSA) program. A master's degree program requires about two years to complete and includes clinical rotations and courses in clinical anatomy, medical terminology and operating procedures. Applicants must already have a bachelor's degree and have completed prerequisite courses in anatomy and physiology, biology, microbiology and chemistry.

MSA ProgramsRare but available, two years of study including clinical work
Relevant Degree ProgramsMaster's programs in physician assisting cover similar studies, with examination and treatment focus
PrerequisitesBachelor's in relevant major and/or healthcare experience, anatomy, chemistry, biology, math, passing GRE scores
Online LearningSome hybrid degrees available, pairing online coursework with in-person clinical
LicensingGraduates must complete and pass a licensing test to begin professional practice

What Other Master's Degree Programs Are Available?

If you're considering earning an advanced degree, you could consider completing a program in physician assisting. Physician assistants (PAs) also work under the supervision of surgeons and physicians, but they assist in examinations and treatments rather than surgeries. In some states, they may even prescribe medication.

There are many programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant across the United States. These include programs that lead to a Master of Physician Assistant Studies or a Master of Science, which is the usual requirement for obtaining a position in the field. These graduate-level programs usually take 2-3 years to complete and include topics in human anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, pathophysiology and pharmacology. In addition to clinical rotations and/or internships, you may be able to pursue research and complete capstone projects.

What Are the Prerequisites?

Prerequisites for a physician's assistant program typically include a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study and experience in the healthcare field. Undergraduate coursework in anatomy and physiology, chemistry, general biology and math is assumed. Prior experience can include positions in direct care, emergency medical technology, paramedics or registered nursing. You may also have to submit your GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores, letters of recommendation and a personal statement or essay.

What Are my Online Options?

Some schools offer hybrid programs in physician assisting that include online courses in basic science, evidence-based medicine and healthcare. Supervised clinical training assignments take place in your home community or state. Additional program features may include an academic project, exams and training in medical office management. Depending on the school, a hybrid program can take between two and three years to complete.

Are There any Licensure Requirements?

You must have a license to work as a physician's assistant. Requirements include a passing score on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, which is offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). In order to retain your certification, you must complete at least 100 hours of professional development every two years. A recertification exam is required every six years.

Surgical assistants can also gain certification through the American Board of Surgical Assistants (ABSA). To qualify for certification, candidates must either complete an ABSA-approved program or be a licensed physician.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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