Exploring International Opportunities for Physician Assistants

PA Coaching • October 11, 2023

Are physician associates able to practice in other countries? In this article I am diving deep into the dynamic world of international opportunities for physician assistants. Join us as we explore the incredible journey of PAs who have ventured beyond borders, making significant contributions to healthcare worldwide.

Exploring International Opportunities for Physician Assistants

In the ever-evolving field of healthcare, professionals are continually seeking new opportunities and challenges. Physician Assistants (PAs) are no exception, and one of the exciting avenues open to them is the opportunity to practice internationally. The world is a diverse and dynamic place, and healthcare needs vary from country to country. In this article, we will explore the potential for PAs to practice in other nations, the challenges they might face, and the countries where they can thrive.

Introduction to International Practice for PAs

Before diving into the details, it’s important to emphasize that, yes, PAs can practice internationally. However, the process, qualifications, and scope of practice can differ substantially between countries. Whether you are an aspiring PA or an experienced one looking to explore global opportunities, there are various factors to consider.

Opportunities in Canada

Similarity to the United States

For American PAs, one of the most accessible options for international practice is Canada. Canada has three non-military PA programs, and American PAs can practice there. The roles and responsibilities of Canadian PAs closely resemble those of their American counterparts. Both groups work in collaboration with physicians, providing patient care, although Canadian PAs cannot prescribe narcotics. For aspiring PAs in Canada, there are opportunities to join the profession by enrolling in these programs.

The Netherlands: A Surprising Option

The Netherlands might come as a surprise to many, but it is another country where PAs can practice with a high degree of autonomy, similar to the United States. PAs in the Netherlands have full prescription authority, and their roles can vary depending on the region. Some work collaboratively with physicians, while others have a more autonomous practice. They can order scans, medications, and other diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Furthermore, the salary for PAs in the Netherlands is quite competitive, closely mirroring their American counterparts.

United Kingdom: A Growing but Limited Field

In the United Kingdom, there are hundreds of PAs working, and the profession is on the rise. However, there is a limitation. The UK’s medical agencies have not officially recognized PAs as a distinct profession. Therefore, PAs do not have prescribing rights in the UK as of today. The field is growing quickly, and recognition might improve in the future, but for now, practicing PAs in the UK must operate with certain restrictions, such as needing a physician’s sign-off for prescribing medications or referring patients for certain diagnostic tests.

Varied Roles in Other Countries

Beyond North America and Europe, opportunities for PAs exist in countries like Liberia, Ghana, and India. The PA profession in these nations is still in its early stages, leading to significant variations in roles and regulations. In some countries, PAs are known as medical assistants, which can create confusion when comparing them to PAs in the United States. The availability of information on certification, maintenance, and medical boards may be limited, but the profession is growing, and international practice is possible.

Considering Other Options

If you’re looking to practice as a PA in other countries, it’s crucial to examine the specific requirements, including prescribing rights, scope of practice, and salary comparisons. Additionally, check if your American training is recognized in those countries. This research is essential to make an informed decision about where you might want to practice internationally.

Other countries to consider for international PA practice include Australia, New Zealand, and Germany, among many others. Each nation has its unique set of requirements and regulations. PAs are encouraged to explore the opportunities in these countries to determine the best fit for their professional goals and personal preferences.

International Rotations for PA Students

For PA students, gaining exposure to international practice can be a valuable experience. Some PA programs offer rotations in foreign countries, allowing students to observe the profession’s dynamics in different healthcare systems. This kind of international exposure can broaden students’ horizons and prepare them for potential international career opportunities.


In conclusion, the prospects for PAs to practice internationally are promising. Countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, and the UK offer opportunities, albeit with varying degrees of regulatory restrictions. Additionally, there are emerging opportunities in countries like Liberia, Ghana, and India, where the PA profession is in its infancy. As a US-trained PA, you have the flexibility and versatility to explore international practice, but it’s crucial to conduct thorough research to ensure a smooth transition into a new healthcare system.

Whether you’re a seasoned PA looking for a new challenge or a student interested in an international career, exploring the world of international PA practice can be a fulfilling and eye-opening journey. As healthcare continues to evolve globally, PAs have the chance to make a significant impact on patient care, not only in the United States but also around the world.

Also read: How to Maintain a Relationship in PA School

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!