Best Physician Assistant Schools in Virginia – 2020

From busy tertiary care hospitals in the state’s largest metropolises to frontline clinics battling the opioid epidemic in rural districts, you’ll find physician assistants everywhere in Virginia. In the 2019 General Assembly session, Virginia legislators voted to give physician assistants more autonomy in their scope of practice; thus, opening the way to freeing PAs from current stipulations that maintain they may only practice under the supervision of a licensed doctor. We’ve made it simpler for you to find the PA training program you’d like to pursue by ranking the best physician assistant programs in Virginia.

What Courses will I be Taking in a Physician Assistant Program in Virginia?

Coursework at physician assistant schools in VA is equally divided between classroom instruction and experiential learning opportunities in hospitals, ambulatory care clinics and community health agencies. You’ll study many of the same topics that are covered in medical school such as cardiology, hematology and emergency medicine, but you’ll also learn about the fundamentals of medical history taking and the legal stipulations the state of Virginia places upon your scope of practice. By the time you graduate, you’ll understand how to be a focal point for the patients you interact with and a resource who can help those patients obtain the services they need.

Physician Assistant Program Length & Cost in Virginia

Physician assistant programs in Virginia involve a 27-month to 36-month commitment. At the end of the program, you will earn a master’s degree. Costs range anywhere from approximately $23,000 at a publicly funded school if you’re a Virginia resident to $85,500 at a private university.

Type of Program Length Cost
Master's2 - 3 Years$23,000 - $85,580

Following are the 4 Best Physician Assistant Programs in Virginia for 2020

View Ranking Methodology

1) Shenandoah University - Winchester

2) Eastern Virginia Medical School - Norfolk

3) James Madison University - Harrisonburg

4) University of Lynchburg - Lynchburg

Physician Assistant Career Outlook in Virginia - 2019

How Many Physician Assistants are Currently Employed in VA?


Where do Physician Assistants Work in Virginia?

In Virginia, the overwhelming majority of physician assistants—more than 1,400—work in private medical offices under the supervision of a doctor. Their responsibilities center upon direct patient care. They often function as gatekeepers, taking patient histories, performing physical assessments and ordering the necessary laboratory work. They make diagnoses and decide upon treatment plans. If their patients need medication, PAs write the prescriptions.

Just like physicians, physician assistants can be assigned hospital privileges. Nearly 600 Virginia PAs work in hospitals. A fair number of hospital-based PAs specialize in emergency medicine. Depending upon an individual hospital’s policies, a physician assistant’s ER responsibilities can vary widely. In addition to routine intake, most PAs are allowed to stitch lacerations, reduce fractures and drain abscesses. In some hospitals, they perform intubations and thoracenteses. Hospital physician assistants are also likely to be found in orthopedics units, surgical operating theaters and medical wards.

Slightly more than 200 PAs work in outpatient clinics where they perform more-or-less the same set of duties that they do in doctors’ offices. Seventy-five PAs work in academic institutions where they provide patient care and perform research while another 75 PAs offer occupational services in employment-related settings.

Industry Number of Medical Assistants
Offices of Physicians 1,406
Hospitals; State, Local, and Private 577
Outpatient Care Centers 201
Educational Services; State, Local, and Private 75
Employment Services75

What is the Average Salary of a Physician Assistant in Virginia?

In Virginia, physician assistants earn just under $100,000 a year on average. There’s variation in the levels of physician assistant salary in Virginia: Hospital PAs may be compensated at a higher rate, particularly if they work swing shifts or night shifts where they’re paid a differential. PAs command handsome benefit packages, too, that typically include health care insurance, retirement savings options and paid leave.

Type Salary
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Salary Based on Years of Experience

Years of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Less than 1 year (Starting)$32.41$5,620 $67,420
1-4 years$41.90 $7,260 $87,160
5-9 years$48.07 $8,330 $99,980
10-19 years$56.64 $9,820 $117,800
20 years or more$63.05 $10,930 $131,140
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Physician Assistant Average Salary Comparison: Virginia vs. National

PAs in Virginia make approximately $9,000 less than the national average. This may reflect the fact that physician assistants have less autonomy in the Old Dominion State than they do in certain other locations throughout the nation.

California National Difference
Number %
$99,340 $108,430 -$9,090-8.38%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Job Outlook

The demand for physician assistants in Virginia is expected to grow by a whopping 44 percent by 2026. Several factors are responsible for this demand. Like many other states, Virginia is facing a physician shortage: The Old Dominion State only has 256 physicians for every 100,000 individuals, and more than 25 percent of those physicians are over the age of 60. Physician assistants can perform many of the same services physicians perform, particularly in the area of primary care.

Additionally, health disparities based on income and geographic factors continue to exist throughout Virginia that derive from disadvantaged groups’ ability to access the care they need. PAs most often deliver care in non-teaching hospitals that are well positioned to serve the health needs of populations that would otherwise be underserved, particularly in rural areas.

Employment Employment Growth, 2016-26
2016 2026 Number Percent
(Source: careeronestop)

Annual Job Openings

New Replacement Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
(Source: careeronestop)

Metro Wise Employment & Salary Data

The highest concentration of PAs in Virginia is to be found in the cities of Norfolk, Newport News and Virginia Beach. It’s also one of the areas where physician assistants earn the highest salaries. This is one of the most densely populated part of Virginia where the need for health care providers is most acute. The Richmond metropolitan area is another populous region where nearly 25 percent of the inhabitants have incomes below the federal poverty line; among such populations, the need for primary care services is traditionally high, so it’s not surprising that many of Virginia’s physician assistants are employed in Virginia’s capital city.

The Blue Ridge Mountain communities of Roanoke and Lynchburg also have high numbers of working PAs. These communities are popular retirement locations, and aging populations typically have a higher demand for health care services than their younger cohorts.

Metro Employment Average Salary
Hourly Monthly Annual
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News680$49.91$8,650$103,810
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Useful Physician Assistant Organizations & Associations in Virginia

Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants

The Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants maintains an active job board where you can look for positions both inside and outside the Old Dominion State. This organization also offers the continuing education classes, which PAs must take in order to maintain their licensure in the state of Virginia.

Physician Assistant Schools in other States

  • Ohio