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  • PA scope of practice laws vary throughout the country. In this series, we will outline physician assistant scope of practice laws across all of the United States. Be sure to check back every month as we make our way state-by-state, highlighting what you need to know about each state’s unique practice laws.

    PA Scope of Practice: California Overview

    Generally, the physician assistant scope of practice in California is more restrictive for PAs than in other states. The state dictates the majority of scope requirements, which does not allow the PA to practice independently.

    What Can a Physician Assistant do in California?

    To provide you with as much information as possible, below you will find the Key Elements for PA practice of the AAPA as well as other California specific scope of practice information for PAs.

    Is Licensure a Regulatory Term for PAs in California?

    Yes, you must have an active license in the state of California in order to practice as a PA. If you do not have a California license, it is possible to obtain one within, on average, 12-16 weeks. Here at Barton Associates, we have a dedicated licensing team that will assist you through the process.

    Can a PA prescribe Medication in California?

    Yes, a physician assistant may prescribe schedule II-V controlled medications such as oxycodone, fentanyl, and hydromorphone, as well as all non-controlled medication.

    Is Scope Determined at the Practice Site?

    Yes, the facility will approve a PA’s scope of practice in the facility based on criteria including, but not limited to, the PA’s experience, education, and physician delegation.

    Are there Adaptable Supervision/ Collaboration Requirements?

    Yes, physician collaboration is required for all PAs to ensure all members of the healthcare team are performing duties they are licensed and authorized to do.

    California does not require on-site or in-person physician oversight for surgical procedures that require something other than local anesthesia.

    Although there are no requirements for in-person supervision, there are required meetings for medical records. This meeting will go over 10 records per month for 10 months per year or five percent within 30 days of employment. If the patient receives schedule II prescription, this requirement is changed to 20 percent of the medical records within seven days.

    Is Chart Cosignature Determined at the Practice Level?

    Cosigning charts was originally implemented for physicians to demonstrate they were observing PA practice.

    Across the country, this requirement is decided either by the state or by the individual healthcare facility. In California, it is at the discretion of the state, meaning all charts must be cosigned by the attending physician.

    Can a Physician Practice with an Unlimited Number of PAs?

    No. California physicians may practice with up to four PAs at one time.

    This limitation is not uncommon, as there are only 12 states that do not limit the amount of PAs with which a physician may practice.

    While this does limit the number of PAs that can work in one facility, it does ensure physicians can dedicate appropriate amounts of time to each PA under his/her supervision.

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    About Barton Team

    We're Barton Associates, the Locum Tenens Experts. We work with thousands of hospitals, medical practices, and organizations across the United States and its territories that need talented providers for short- and long-term engagements. Inspired by the pioneering, humanitarian work of Clara Barton, the Barton Team recruits physicians, PAs, NPs, dentists and CRNAs in a wide variety of specialties, so that we can quickly place them in locum tenens assignments nationwide.