As a physician assistant (PA), being closely familiar with your scope of practice can help you ensure that you are not operating outside the limits of your license. Performing duties that you aren’t licensed to perform could lead to complaints, disciplinary action, license suspension, or even license revocation.
If your license is in jeopardy or if you are facing disciplinary action from the Texas Medical Board (TMB), you’ll need an experienced attorney. At Bertolino LLP, we make it easy to connect with a lawyer who can offer legal advice and defend your medical license.
What Is a Texas Physician Assistant’s Scope of Practice?
The Texas Administrative Code (TAC) defines the scope of practice for physician Assistants in Texas. The code states that PAs cannot practice independently and that they must work under the supervision of a licensed physician. Once a PA has come to an agreement with a physician, they can practice medicine in the following settings:
- A hospital
- An ambulatory surgical center
- A nursing home
- And other healthcare settings
Under Texas law, PAs can provide the following medical services:
- Conduct physical exams
- Access patients’ medical histories
- Develop a patient diagnosis
- Create and execute a treatment plan
- Track the effectiveness of a patient’s treatment
- Help a surgeon perform a procedure
- Counsel a patient
- Offer educational resources to a patient
- Provide a patient with a referral
- Order or prescribe a medical device or drug for a patient
However, a PA can only perform one of the above-mentioned services if a licensed physician delegates it to them. That said, just because a physician delegates a certain duty doesn’t mean a PA is allowed to perform it. The duty must be delegated by the supervising doctor and listed within the TAC.
How do You Become a Physician Assistant in Texas?
Becoming a physician assistant in Texas requires hard work and patience. One must complete a number of steps just to apply for a license. We recommend that you review the requirements to become a physician assistant in Texas carefully. If you miss one of the required steps, you won’t be able to obtain your physician assistant license.
The Texas Medical Board provides the following checklist for becoming a physician assistant:
Complete an Accredited Physician Assistant Educational Program
Aspiring PAs must complete an educational program that is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Such programs can be completed online or in person. Students in accredited programs will learn everything they need to know to fulfill the duties of a PA correctly and lawfully.
Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE)
The PANCE is a test of medical and surgical knowledge administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Anyone who wants to become a physician assistant in Texas must pass the PANCE within six attempts.
Receive National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) Certification
To become a PA, you’ll have to pass the PANCE. Once you’ve passed the PANCE, you’ll receive NCCPA certification and the ability to use the PA-C designation. The certification lasts approximately two years, at which point it can be renewed.
Pass the Jurisprudence (JP) Exam
The JP exam tests an individual’s knowledge of various laws relating to the practice of psychology. It consists of 50 random multiple-choice questions that applicants have 90 minutes to answer. The exam can be completed online.
Avoid Disciplinary Action in Previous Healthcare Field
If a PA applicant has worked in healthcare in another capacity in which they were subject to disciplinary action, they could risk denial of their license. If that’s the case for you, a lawyer can help you file an appeal.
Practice Before Applying to Be a Physician Assistant
All PA applicants must work under a supervising physician for a minimum of 20 hours a week for 40 weeks. This requirement must be completed within a two-year period before the application is finalized.
How Can You Maintain Your PA License?
Once you’ve received your PA license, you must do what’s necessary to maintain it. Aside from renewing your license every two years, you’ll also need to take the following measures:
Exhibit Good Morals and Act Professionally
A physician assistant must operate with a patient’s best interests in mind. To keep your PA license, you must follow the rules day after day and treat patients with the respect they deserve. Even a single violation of Texas’ scope of practice laws for physician assistants could compromise your license.
Maintain Your Mental and Physical Health
Being a PA can be mentally and physically taxing. To fulfill your duties, you must prioritize your mental and physical well-being. Otherwise, you could face health risks that affect your ability to provide safe, effective patient care.
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Can a PA Practice in Different States?
Generally, if you are only licensed to practice as a PA in Texas, you’ll need to apply for licensing in another state before you can legally practice there. However, in 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that made Texas part of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC). The IMLC offers an accelerated path for PAs who want to practice in other states. So far, 37 states have joined the IMLCC. To see which states have joined, visit the Compact State Map site.
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How You Can Defend Your Professional License Against Disciplinary Action?
If you receive a complaint indicating that you are suspected of operating outside Texas’ scope of practice for physician assistants, you should take it very seriously. Regardless of whether the complaint is warranted, you must work with an attorney to draft a response to the complaint.
An experienced lawyer can also help you request a review and modification of any disciplinary action that’s taken against you. They’ll collect evidence to support your case and prepare an argument to contest the action.
Your attorney can help you navigate the complicated appeals process and prepare you for any investigatory interviews that you’re required to participate in. They’ll be sure to take the steps necessary to protect your license and your ability to practice as a PA.
Talk to Our Team if You Are Facing Disciplinary Action
If you’re facing disciplinary action for operating outside your scope of practice as a physician assistant in Texas, our firm can help you. We’ll investigate the allegations you’re facing and search for evidence that proves they shouldn’t affect your ability to practice.
Contact the team at Bertolino LLP to schedule a free consultation. During your consultation, we’ll ask you about your situation and let you know if we can help you defend your occupational license. If we agree to take on your case, you’ll benefit from our experience and close proximity to the TMB in Austin, TX.