Physician Assistant

Last Updated:
April 27, 2023

Job Description Overview

If you are looking for a challenging and fulfilling career in healthcare, becoming a Physician Assistant might be the path for you. As a Physician Assistant, you will work under the supervision of a licensed physician and provide essential medical care to patients. Your duties may include diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting medical tests, developing treatment plans, prescribing medication, and performing minor surgeries.

A Physician Assistant job description demands a highly skilled and knowledgeable individual with a passion for helping others. You will need excellent communication skills, critical thinking abilities, and the ability to adapt to new situations quickly. Additionally, you must have a Master's degree and be licensed to practice medicine in your state. Physician Assistants work in a variety of settings, such as medical clinics, hospitals, or educational institutions, and their job is highly rewarding. If you are passionate about healthcare and want to make a difference in people's lives, a career as a Physician Assistant might be the right fit for you.

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Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • A physician assistant (PA) works under the supervision of a physician to provide patient care.
  • PAs take medical histories and perform physical exams to help diagnose and treat patients.
  • They can order and interpret diagnostic tests and prescribe medications.
  • PAs also assist with surgeries and other procedures, as well as manage patient care in hospitals and clinics.
  • They collaborate with other healthcare professionals to create treatment plans and educate patients on disease prevention and management.
  • PAs may also perform minor procedures and assist in critical care situations.
  • They must be licensed and complete continuing education to maintain their skills and knowledge.
  • PAs may work in a variety of settings, including primary care clinics, hospitals, and surgical facilities.
  • Their main goal is to improve patient outcomes and ensure quality healthcare delivery.

Experience and Education Requirements

To become a Physician Assistant, you need to attend an accredited PA program that generally takes about 2 years to complete. These programs require a bachelor's degree, and some require healthcare experience, like nursing or EMT work. During these programs, you will study anatomy, pharmacology, clinical medicine, and medical ethics. You'll also participate in rotations to gain hands-on experience in various medical fields such as surgery, obstetrics, and pediatrics. Once you've graduated, you need to pass a certification exam and obtain a state license to work as a Physician Assistant. As a PA, you'll work under the supervision of a licensed doctor and provide medical care to patients.

Salary Range

Physician Assistants (PAs) are in high demand due to the shortage of doctors in the healthcare industry. If you're wondering about the physician assistant salary range, the average annual wage in the United States is $104,860, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the range can vary widely depending on the location, years of experience, and type of employer. For example, PAs in New York City earn an average of $128,066 per year, while those in North Carolina make around $95,000. In Canada, the average salary for PAs is CAD $83,550 per year, according to PayScale. In the UK, newly qualified physician associates can expect to earn between £31,000 to £42,000. As the demand for PAs continues to grow, so will the salary range.


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics:
  • PayScale:
  • NHS:

Career Outlook

The career outlook for a Physician Assistant (PA) in the healthcare industry is bright and booming over the next five years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for PAs is projected to grow 31 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. With an aging population increasing the demand for healthcare services, PAs are expected to become increasingly vital members of healthcare teams. The job market for PAs is expanding, and the profession is becoming more specialized, offering many opportunities for growth and further education. In short, becoming a PA is a smart career choice in the healthcare industry with plenty of opportunities ahead.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is a Physician Assistant?

A: A Physician Assistant, or PA, is a healthcare professional who works under the supervision of a licensed physician to provide medical care for patients.

Q: What kind of education and training do Physician Assistants need?

A: Physician Assistants typically complete a Master's degree from an accredited Physician Assistant program and pass a national certification exam.

Q: What kind of tasks does a Physician Assistant perform?

A: Physician Assistants can perform a variety of tasks, including taking patient medical histories, performing physical examinations, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and prescribing medications.

Q: Where do Physician Assistants work?

A: Physician Assistants can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and physician offices. Some also work in specialty areas like surgical, emergency or cardiology.

Q: What is the difference between a Physician Assistant and a Medical Doctor?

A: A Physician Assistant is a healthcare professional who works under the supervision of a licensed physician, while a Medical Doctor is a physician who has completed medical school, residency training and passed licensing exams to become independently licensed to practice medicine.

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