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What Is a Physician Assistant and How to Become One

What Do Physician Assistants Do?

Physician Assistants, or PAs, work in hospitals and medical practices in routine and emergency situations. The duties of a Physician Assistant vary from obtaining patient histories to performing medical procedures and assisting in surgical operations. Their scope of practice varies depending on the state; however, in general, Physician Assistants perform many of the same job duties as medical doctors. They may conduct physical exams, diagnose conditions, and prescribe medication.

How Can I Become a Physician Assistant?

Becoming a Physician Assistant is less rigorous than becoming a medical doctor, however, it still requires dedication, education, and certification. To become a Physician Assistant, candidates must graduate from a Physician Assistant training program recognized by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. Then, they will have to take and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination and obtain state licensure. Specific state licensing requirements will vary based on your location.

What Do Physician Assistants Do on a Daily Basis?

On a daily basis, Physician Assistants perform the tasks of a medical provider, which includes examining patients to obtain information about their physical condition. They interpret diagnostic test results and present these results to the patients. A Physician Assistant will also work closely with a doctor to develop a course of treatment.

What Is a Physician Assistant Versus a Doctor?

While the two roles share many similar duties, a Physician Assistant always works under the supervision of a doctor, and a doctor is able to work independently. For example, Physician Assistants may assist doctors in surgical procedures but they themselves are not licensed to perform the surgery.

How Are Physician Assistants Different From Physical Therapists?

Physical Therapists, or PTs, are licensed health care professionals who are trained to help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility, often following an injury. They are specialized in the care of people and the movement of their bodies. Physician Assistants are generalists who work with doctors to conduct routine examinations, perform procedures, and prescribe medications.

Physician Assistant Job Description Sample

With this Physician Assistant job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Physician Assistant role.

Job Summary

We are seeking a highly-skilled, experienced Physician Assistant to join our growing healthcare team. In this position, you will provide direct patient care, performing physical examinations, ordering tests, determining a diagnosis, and developing a treatment plan for the patients. You will monitor your patient’s health during follow-up visits and adjust the treatment plan as necessary. Our goal is to ensure our patients receive the best care possible in managing their illnesses or chronic health issues.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Discuss symptoms with patients and perform a thorough examination
  • Order x-rays and lab tests and analyze them for diagnosis
  • Treat minor injuries and illnesses
  • Perform First Aid care and sutures
  • Administer medications and immunizations
  • Communicate with patients on appointment scheduling and treatment progress
  • Keep thorough records of all patient examinations, diagnoses, and treatments

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Completion of an accredited Physician Assistant program
  • Must be PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination) certified through the NCCPA (National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants)
  • 1+ years of experience in a healthcare environment preferred
  • Excellent communication skills and problem-solving skills
  • Strong sense of compassion and personal ethics
  • Ability to work efficiently and independently