Physician's Assistant

Last Updated:
April 27, 2023

Job Description Overview

If you're interested in the healthcare industry and enjoy helping others, a Physician's Assistant job description might be the right fit for you. Physician's Assistants work under the supervision of a licensed physician to provide medical care to patients in various settings such as clinics, hospitals, and private practices.

As a Physician's Assistant, you'll take patient histories, conduct physical exams, diagnose illnesses and injuries, and prescribe medications. You'll work with physicians to develop treatment plans, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and perform procedures such as suturing wounds and casting broken bones.

You'll also educate patients on their health conditions and provide preventive care recommendations. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are essential since you'll be interacting with patients and healthcare professionals every day.

To become a Physician's Assistant, you'll need a graduate degree and a license to practice. It's a rewarding career path that allows you to make a positive impact on people's lives.

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Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assisting physicians in medical procedures and surgeries.
  • Providing patient care by diagnosing and treating minor illnesses and injuries.
  • Conducting physical examinations and interpreting medical histories.
  • Prescribing medications, ordering diagnostic tests, and interpreting test results.
  • Educating patients about their medical conditions, treatment plans, and preventive healthcare measures.
  • Advising on lifestyle changes, such as exercise, diet, and stress management.
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses and therapists, to provide comprehensive care.
  • Managing patient care by documenting medical histories, treatment plans, and progress notes in electronic medical records.
  • Participating in clinical research studies and presenting findings to medical conferences.
  • Adhering to ethical and legal standards, such as patient confidentiality and informed consent.

Experience and Education Requirements

If you want to be a Physician's Assistant in the healthcare industry, you'll need two things: education and experience.

First, you'll need a Bachelor's degree. Usually, it's best to get a degree in health sciences, biology or a similar field. But it's not required.

Next, you'll need to complete a Physician Assistant program, which typically takes two years. During this program, you'll learn about medical ethics, anatomy, pharmacology, and more. It's important to pass the certification exam and then acquire a license to practice in your state.

Finally, you'll need clinical experience. This means working in a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare facility under the supervision of a licensed physician. This helps you gain real-world experience and practice as a Physician's Assistant.

Salary Range

Physician's Assistant salary range in the United States averages between $85,000 to $120,000 per year, with the median being around $104,000. However, salary ranges vary by location and employer. For example, PAs working in urban areas like New York City or Los Angeles have a higher median salary compared to those in rural settings. Additionally, PAs employed by hospitals and medical centers typically earn more than those who work in private practices. For other countries, data is limited but in Canada, the average annual salary of a Physician's Assistant is around CAD$85,000. Overall, the demand for PAs in healthcare is expected to continue to grow, and salary ranges will adjust accordingly.



Career Outlook

The career outlook for Physician's Assistants (PAs) in the healthcare industry is bright and has been growing steadily over the past few years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of PAs is expected to increase by a remarkable 31% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due to an increased demand for healthcare services, an aging population, and a shortage of physicians in many rural and underserved areas. 

PAs can work in various specialties, including primary care, surgery, emergency medicine, and psychiatry, and their scope of practice is expanding. They can prescribe medication in some states, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and perform minor surgeries. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role that PAs play in the healthcare system, leading to further recognition of their contribution.

Overall, the future looks very bright for PAs, with increased demand projected to offer significant career opportunities in the coming years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is a Physician's Assistant?

A: A Physician's Assistant is a healthcare professional who works under the supervision of a licensed physician to provide medical care to patients. They perform a variety of tasks like diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medications, and conducting exams.

Q: What kind of training is required to become a Physician's Assistant?

A: To become a Physician's Assistant, you need to have an undergraduate degree in healthcare or a related field. You also need to complete a two-year accredited Physician's Assistant program and pass a national certification exam. 

Q: What is the typical work setting for a Physician's Assistant?

A: A Physician's Assistant can work in various healthcare settings like hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They can work in different medical specialties like family medicine, emergency medicine, cardiology, and more.

Q: What are some common tasks that a Physician's Assistant performs?

A: A Physician's Assistant performs a variety of tasks like conducting physical exams, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, creating treatment plans, and educating patients about their healthcare.

Q: What are some important qualities that a good Physician's Assistant should possess?

A: A Physician's Assistant should have strong communication and interpersonal skills as they have to interact with patients, families, and other healthcare professionals. They should also have good problem-solving and analytical skills, and be emotionally strong to handle the stress of the job.

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