Physician Assistant

Pros


  • This type of work helps people with a wide array of medical issues under the supervision of a physician.
  • Those who have a knack for solving problems will enjoy this work, as you would be helping those who have medical problems.
  • There are very good job opportunities available for those wishing to become a physician assistant.

Cons

  • This work can be stressful, as you will deal with emergency situations where people may be in pain.
  • The job will require you to be on your feet for the better part of the work day.
  • You may have to deal with unpleasant situations. This is the nature of the work, so you must not be squeamish.

Overview

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, are healthcare professionals that practice medicine under the guidance of medical doctors. Quite often, a physician assistant is the primary care provider for a patient while the supervising doctor consults with the physician assistant a few days a week on best medical practices. This is a trend that is happening now more often than in the past as many medical clinics are trying to reduce healthcare expenses.

A physician’s assistant will be responsible for an array of duties that a medical doctor will also perform. They will examine and diagnose patients as well as offer methods of treatment. During treatment of injuries, they may perform such tasks as suturing, casting and splinting. Many physician assistants are able to prescribe medications for their patients. However, functions such as this are usually regulated by state law which is dependant on what they can and cannot do. Just like doctors, physician assistants will consult with their patients about preventive health practices.

There are various environments in which physician assistants will work in. Often they will be found in clinics that are located in inner city or rural areas where medical doctors are hard to find. Many physician assistants work for home health care clinics where they make house calls to patients that are experiencing health problems. There is another subset that work in conjunction with surgeons in a hospital setting to help perform some of the intensive tasks that are required within the operating room.

Education

One wishing to become physician assistant needs to enroll in a four year university program and then apply to a program that specializes in this field. Usually these programs require applicants to have an undergraduate degree as well as some healthcare work experience. The majority of physician assistant programs are two year programs that focus on biochemistry, anatomy and physiology. Upon completion of a program, prospective physician assistants need to become properly certified by passing a national exam that is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Job Prospects

The field of physician assistants is expected to grow very fast in the future, faster than almost all other occupations. Healthcare is a field that offers a lot of prospects due to advancing medical technology and the increasingly aging population demographics. Because of increasing demand, medical doctors require more help seeing a wide array of patients and this is where physician assistants come into the picture as they are capable of offering their expertise when a doctor is too busy or otherwise not available.

Advancement Opportunities

Many physician assistants are capable of advancing if they want to pursue continuing education. There are PA postgraduate programs that specialize in surgical procedures, pediatrics or emergency medications. Because of their advanced training and expertise, it is not uncommon to find physician assistants working in managerial roles, especially in larger health organizations such as hospitals.