What does a Physician Assistant (PA) do?
A physician assistant (also known as a PA) is a health care professional who is trained and licensed to offer health care services under the supervision of a physician or surgeon. They are not a doctor or physician but the job profile includes many of the same responsibilities. Areas of work include medicine (including primary care and family medicine), emergency medicine, and psychiatry. Many physician assistants are employed in offices of health practitioners, hospitals, or outpatient facilities.
How To Become A Physician Assistant (PA)
To become a physician assistant, a person typically needs a master’s degree from an accredited educational program. The degrees that are usually recognized in the United States are:
- Master of Science in Medicine (MMSc)
- Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)
- Master of Health Science (MHS), Master of Medical Science (MMSc)
- Master of Clinical Medical Science (MCMSc)
- Master of Clinical Health Services (MCHS)
- Bachelor of Clinical Health Services (BCHS)
- Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHS)
- Bachelor of Science Physician Assistant degree (BScPA)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Physician Associate studies (PgDip)
To become licensed, a physician assistant must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)- and as of 2014 – recertification is required every 10 years.
Job Description of a Physician Assistant (PA)
A physician assistant diagnoses health conditions, illnesses, and offers general healthcare. They also prescribe medication, offer first aid, attend to emergencies, and conduct tests – including but not limited to – blood tests, ultrasounds, x-rays, electrocardiographs, and recording vital signs among many additional tasks. Some physician assistants may also assist a surgeon or doctor during surgery.
The job profile of a physician assistant is quite extensive and it may also include minor administrative responsibilities as well. In most cases, the job profile of a physician assistant is formulated according to the needs of a particular clinic, health care center, hospital, or private practice in which they are working.
A physician assistant can specialize in medical and behavioral sciences areas as well, such as anatomy, immunology, hematology, microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, pathophysiology, genetics, clinical medicine, internal medicine, surgery, family medicine, physical diagnosis, pediatrics, gynecology, obstetrics, and emergency medicine.