The Role of the Physician Assistant
Physician assistants are healthcare practitioners that are licensed by state medical boards to practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician (M.D. or D.O.). The physician assistant is able to provide a broad range of medical services within primary and specialty care including diagnostic, therapeutic, preventative, and health maintenance services. Typically, the physician assistant's practice is clinical, focusing on patient care, but may also include education, research, and administrative duties. As part of the physician assistant's clinical responsibilities, the PA performs physical examinations, diagnoses and treats medical problems, orders and interprets tests, counsels patients and their family members on preventive health care, assists in surgeries, writes medical orders, and writes prescriptions.
Physician assistants are individuals that are intelligent with high ethical standards. They demonstrate compassion and empathy, and have sound judgment and excellent interpersonal skills. Physician assistants have the ability to handle high stress situations and are able to deal with medical emergencies in calm and professional manner.
Physician assistants, under the supervision of physicians, play a critical role is providing excellent health care in the United States and abroad. The PA has traditionally played an important role in providing excellent primary and preventative care to a wide range of patients with a patient-centered approach. The physician assistant practice is characterized by clinical knowledge and skills in the areas of family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, emergency medicine, and psychiatry.
Employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 38 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increased demand for healthcare services from the growing and aging population and widespread chronic disease, combined with a shortage of physicians, will result in increased demand for healthcare providers, such as physician assistants.*
Quick Facts: Physician Assistants*
- 2012 Median Pay $90,930 per year/$43.72 per hour
- Entry-Level Education Master’s degree
- Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 86,700
- Job Outlook, 2012-22 38% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 33,300
*Bureau of Labor and Statistics