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Physician Assistant CareerWhat a Physician Assistant does:

A Physician Assistant (PA) is a healthcare provider who works under the supervision of a Physician or a Surgeon. Physician Assistants are highly skilled and perform therapeutic and diagnostic tasks as set out by a Physician.

Often in rural practices the Physician Assistant is the principal healthcare provider. Physician Assistants can specialize in areas such as Orthopedics, Geriatrics, Emergency Medicine and Surgery. Those specializing in surgery often work as first or second assistants during major surgery.

Many Physician Assistants come from nursing backgrounds, others come from other allied health and related professions.

The main duties of a Physician Assistant include:

  • Taking a patient’s medical history
  • Working closely with other healthcare professionals
  • Examining and treating patients
  • Ordering x rays, laboratory tests and making diagnoses
  • Treating minor injuries
  • Documenting a patient’s progress
  • Prescribing Medications (in most states)
  • Ordering medical supplies
  • Supervising junior members of their healthcare team
  • Making house calls
  • Reporting to a Physician

Education & Qualifications:
To become a Physician Assistant you must complete an accredited education program and pass a national exam. Physician Assistant programs last for 2 years.

Most programs require students to have a minimum of 2 years in college, and some health care experience as a prerequisite. Physician Assistant Programs are available from Medical Schools, Colleges, Allied Health Schools and Hospitals.

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) provides accreditation for Physician Assistant programs. Typical subjects covered in an Accredited Physician Assistant Program include: pathology, biochemistry, human anatomy, microbiology, physiology, clinical pharmacology, clinical medicine, disease prevention, geriatric and home health care, and medical ethics. Students also complete a supervised clinical practice as part of the program.

All states require physician assistants to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. This exam is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), and is available to graduates of accredited PA education programs. Students who pass the licensing examination can use the Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C) credential.

Students interested in a career as a Physician Assistant should take high school courses in English, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Psychology, and Social Science.

Salary & Job Prospects:
Salaries for Physician Assistants range from $70,000 to $95,000 depending on location, job profile, education and experience. The job outlook for Physician Assistants is excellent. Healthcare facilities can curtail costs by recruiting Physician Assistants to carry out many of the duties of a Physician.



Below is a list of some of the various types of allied health careers / professions:

Links to Types of Allied Health Careers

Anesthesiologist Assistant »
Art Therapy »
Athletic Trainer »
Audiologist »
Cardiovascular Technician »
Clinical Laboratory Science »
Clinical Laboratory Technologist »
Cytotechnology »
Dental Assistant »
Dental Hygienist »
Dental Laboratory Technician »
Diagnostic Medical Sonography »
Dietitian / Nutritionist »
Dispensing Optician »
Electroneurodiagnostic Technician »
Emergency Medical Technician / Paramedic »
Epidemiology »
General Aide »
Genetic Counseling »
Health Information Management »
Health Care Interpreter »
Home Health Aide / Home Care »
Kinesiotherapist »
Massage Therapy »
Medical Assistant »
Medical Billing / Coding Specialist »
Medical Dosimetrist »
Medical Laboratory Technician »
Medical Librarian »
Medical Physicist »

Medical Technologist »
Medical Transcription »
Nuclear Medicine Technologist »
Nursing Assistant »
Occupational Therapist »
Ophthalmic Technician »
Optometrist »
Osteopath »
Pathologist Assistant »
Pedorthist »
Perfusionist »
Personal Trainer »
Pharmacy Technician »
Pharmacist Careers »
Phlebotomist »
Physical Therapist »
Physician Assistant »
Podiatrist »
Public Health Inspector »
Radiation Therapist »
Radiologic Technologist »
Reflexologist »
Rehab Therapist »
Respiratory Therapist »
Social Worker »
Speech Pathologist / Therapist »
Surgical Technologist »
Therapeutic Recreation Specialist »
Ultrasound Technician / Sonographer »

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