Physical Assistant

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Physical Assistant

Physician AssistantRory GallagherHES 172 TCNJ

Career Overview

Education Requirements

- A physician assistant needs a High School degree. Also a physician assistant will need a bachelor’s degree in some health science field, which can be the traditional biological science majors (biology, chemistry, anatomy, biomed etc.), nutrition, and sport physiology. What can help someone stand out is also studying psychology, sociology and even foreign languages because these all play a role once a PA. (1) (8)-Physician Assistants need a master’s degree from an accredited educational program and this usually takes two years of full-time postgraduate study. Physician assistant education includes classroom and laboratory instruction and usually studies pathology, human anatomy, physiology, clinical medicine, pharmacology, physical diagnosis, and medical ethics. PAs also need healthcare-related experience; many physician assistants were registered nurses, EMTs, or paramedics at one point. (1) (5)


All 50 states and the District of Columbia require a physician assistant to be licensed. To become a licensed PA, you must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. If you pass this, you may use the credential Physician Assistant Certified. To keep this certification, physician assistants must complete 100 hours of continuing education every 2 years. Starting in 2014, the recertification exam will be required every 10 years. (1) (6) (7)

Career SettingsThe settings that physician assistants work at vary; 54% of PAs work in the office of health practitioners, 23% work at hospitals, 7% work at outpatient care centers, 4% work with the government, and 3% work for educational services such as colleges, universities, state, local and private. (1) (2)Being a physician assistant can be physically demanding. You spend good amount of time on your feet. PAs that are in operating rooms will spend extended periods of time standing. As stated before, a workweek for a PA can consists of early mornings, nights, weekends, being on call and will have to go out to patients at facilities and then report back to the physician. (1) (2) (3)

A physician assistant (PA) is a licensed and highly skilled health care professional, trained to provide patient evaluation, education, and health care services. A physician assistant under the supervision of a physician can provide medical care, guidance needed by a patient; prescribe medicine in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, assist in surgeries, and perform minor procedures. (1) (2) (3)PAs can also have managerial duties, order medical and lab equipment needed. Even though physician assistants practice under the license of a physician, they can be the main care providers in some practices when physicians are not in. PAs can also make house calls, go to hospitals and nursing homes to check on patients and then report back to the physician. Schedules can vary for each PA, due to the practice setting and the hours of the supervising physician. A typical workweek for a physician assistant can consists of about 40 hours, which include early mornings, nights, weekends and be on call as well. (1)

Phyisican Assistant OpportunityAccording to Money magazine, Physician Assistant is one of the Top 10 Best Jobs in America. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% job growth rate for the profession through 2020. (2) (4)

$ Salary $The average salary of a physician assistant as of May 2012 was $90,930. The range of salary for a PA is $62,430 – $124,770 (1) (3)

Physician Assistants are capable of advancing more into the health field. There are postgraduate programs that specialize in surgeries, pediatric care, and emergency medications. It is not uncommon for physician assistants to work in manager roles in health organizations.

Continuing EducationParticipating in continued education i a requirement as a physician assistant. You must complete 100 hours of continued education every 2 years. As of the beginning of 2014 a PA will need to take a recertification exam every 10 years and pass to stay licensed. (1) (2) (3)

Some positives of being a PA are flexible hours, helping others is rewarding, constantly gaining knowledge, and the pay is a good salary

Some negatives of being a PA is you spend the majority of your day on your feet, sometime you will have to see patients in pain and that is not the easiest thing to deal with, you can be on call and needed at any time on short notice.

Conclusion Originally, going into research about a Physician Assistant, I didn't realize all that they are allowed to do with patients. Becoming a PA is a lot of schooling but it was voted Top 10 jobs in the United States and has a 30% growth rate. I think becoming a PA is a good career choice. The salary is good, you get to help people, and can make career advancements


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