If you’ve been looking to make a career change, becoming a physician assistant can be an exciting and rewarding option. Physician assistants are in high demand, and many clinics and hospitals are hiring now.
Physician assistants (PA) play an important role in addressing the shortage of primary health care providers. Physician assistants can practice medicine, much like doctors. They work in primary practice settings, hospitals, and clinics, but their fees are much lower than physicians. However, the care that PAs offer to patients is comparable to those of primary care doctors.
Each state varies in the duties it allows a physician assistant to have. In most cases, a PA works under the supervision of regular physicians. The PA’s duties may depend on which setting they work, their specialty, their level of expertise and experience, and the state they practice.
Though physician assistants can choose between varied fields of medicine, nearly one-third decide to practice in primary care. Another 38 percent work in hospital settings. Some also work in nursing homes, outpatient surgical facilities, community centers, and correctional institutions.
The scope of duties and services of a PA may include the following:
- Physical examinations of patients
- Intake of the medical history of a patient
- Ordering of laboratory and other tests
- Interpretation of tests and findings during an exam
- Writing prescriptions
- Diagnosing illnesses
- Treatment of illnesses
- Counseling a patient about their illness and offering advice
- Assistance in the surgical setting
Physician Assistant Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a physician assistant in the U.S. is $112,260 as of 2019. The level of pay can vary based on specialty degrees, experience, and the state in which the practice is located.
- MPOWERHealth is often hiring for physician assistant jobs in Oklahoma City, OK. In these roles, physician assistants take part in surgeries, working right alongside the surgeon to care for the patient and make sure that there is a positive outcome.
Training and Requirements
According to the American Academy of Physician’s Assistants (AAPA), at least two years of college courses which contain prerequisites of anatomy, biology, chemistry, microbiology, and physiology is required.
PA students must also earn a bachelor’s degree and gain up to three years of experience in the healthcare setting as a paramedic, registered nurse, EMT, emergency room technician, or something similar.
Following that, students can enter a PA program, which is usually three years of academic work. In that time, most students will earn master’s degrees. The program usually consists of a combination of at last 2,000 hours of clinical rotation and classroom hours.
Classes consist of biochemistry, pharmacology, pathophysiology, behavioral science, pathophysiology, clinical laboratory science, and medical ethics.
Once you graduate from PA school, you must take the PANCE exam. Once you pass the PANCE exam, you’ll receive certification as a physician assistant. Next, you must meet the licensing requirements for your state to have a license to practice.
Once licensed, you must maintain certification at the national level by completing 100 hours of continuing education every two years. As a PA, you must also recertify every ten years by taking an exam known as PANRE.