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Physician Assistant Job Information

A physician assistant (PA) works on a team under the supervision of a physician or surgeon. They are tasked with evaluating patients, analyzing tests, assisting with diagnoses, and providing basic treatment. Physician assistants can work in all areas of medicine, including family medicine, primary care, orthopedics, emergency medicine, and more.

The role of a physician assistant is numerous and largely depends on their place of employment and needs of supervising physician. Some physician assistants are asked to order supplies and manage technicians and other assistants.

Responsibilities of a physician assistant:

  • Review and gather patient medical history
  • Order and analyze diagnostic tests
  • Provide basic medical treatment
  • Answer patient questions and counsel them
  • Prescribe medicine under physician orders
  • Document patient progress and communicate with physicians

All physician assistants are required to graduate from an accredited Physician Assistant (PA) program, pass a national exam, and obtain proper licensing for the state in which they wish to work. In 2013 there were 174 accredited PA programs and many of them offered a Masters-level degree. Education topics include anatomy, pathology, pharmacology, and more.

Physician assistants are typically on their feet for long periods of time. This is especially true for those who assist surgeons. They must demonstrate extensive medical knowledge and be able to clearly communicate with both patients and physicians.