The job outlook for Physician Assistant graduates is very positive, with excellent job growth and also a high salary potential. Individuals who want high-level positions in the medical field but don’t want to spend a decade in college should consider a career path as a physician assistant.
The good news is that physician assistants can look forward to excellent career opportunities. These highly trained medical professionals are in demand, and there is little indication that this will change soon. Here is an overview of what physician assistants do, as well as the career outlook for physician assistants.
What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?
A physician assistant (PA) is a licensed healthcare professional who can practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs use the medical model and provide a broad range of diagnostic and also therapeutic services.
They are qualified to examine patients, diagnose illnesses, and provide treatment, including writing prescriptions. In addition, PAs may take medical histories, order and interpret diagnostic tests, perform physical exams, teach preventive health care, and also assist in surgery. PAs have more training than medical assistants and nurses but less than physicians.
What Do Physician Assistants Do?
The exact responsibilities of a PA vary depending on the work setting. A PA’s health care experience, specialty, and state laws also determine responsibilities. Physician assistants work alongside doctors and other healthcare workers to provide patient care. They examine and treat patients in the same capacity as doctors. But they work under the supervision of doctors. Below are some of the duties of a PA.
- Examining patients or conducting physical exams
- Taking and also documenting the patient’s medical history
- Diagnosing the patient’s illness or injury
- Creating treatment plans and initiating treatment for the patient
- Prescribe medication or prescribing medication
- Order and read blood tests, x-rays, and also other diagnostic tests
- Counsel and educate the patient and also family members on treatment and prognosis
- Assess the patient’s progress
- Conduct clinical research
Where Do PAs Work?
Physician assistants work in various medical facilities and settings in the healthcare industry. Some of these locations include hospitals, community health centers, and also primary care providers or doctors offices. These professionals also work in outpatient care centers and nursing homes.
What it Takes to Become a Physician Assistant
Physician assistants must have at least a master’s degree. Candidates usually already have a bachelor’s degree and then pursue a graduate degree through a physician assistant program. This generally takes two years of graduate college courses. But, before enrolling in the PA program, some already work as RNs, paramedics, or EMTs. Additionally, more than 200 accredited PA programs are in the United States.
Physician assistant programs include classroom instruction with many science courses, lab studies, and also clinical education. PA students complete a clinical rotation in a hospital or clinic to satisfy the clinical education. Some PA students complete more than one rotation, primarily if they specialize in a specific area of medicine. Then, graduates must pass the physician assistant national certifying exam.
Physician assistants must have a license to care for patients. So, applicants must pass the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination before applying for a license. After they earn a license, PAs must take regular continuing education.
What Workplace Skills Do PAs Need?
In addition to formal education, PAs need other skills and abilities for successful health care careers. Below are some essential abilities a physician’s assistant should have to practice medicine effectively.
- Communication skills: communicating effectively with colleagues, clients, and also superiors.
- Problem-solving skills: identifying and solving problems quickly and also effectively.
- Time management skills: prioritizing tasks, managing deadlines, and also staying organized.
- Leadership skills: motivating and mentoring team members and also making important decisions.
- Teamwork skills: working collaboratively and also cooperatively with others.
- Interpersonal skills: interacting positively with others and also building relationships.
- Adaptability skills: adjusting to different environments and also situations.
- Computer skills: using various software programs and also applications.
- Technical skills: understanding and using specific tools and also equipment.
- Self-motivation: taking the initiative and also remaining productive without constant guidance.
What Education Do you Need to Become a Physician Assistant?
Physician Assistant education typically includes a master’s degree. However, there are a few options. Look here for the top affordable Master of Health Sciences programs for a Physician Assistant online. Below are the different degree programs for PAs.
Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS)
This is the most common degree program for physician assistants. It is typically a two-year program with coursework for anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, medical ethics, and also patient assessment.
Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)
This is a one-year graduate program. It focuses on clinical training for those with a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Post-baccalaureate Physician Assistant Program
This one to two-year program allows students to specialize in a particular area, such as surgery, pediatrics, or family practice.
Dual Degree Programs
Some universities offer dual degree programs combining a master’s in physician assistant studies with another degree, such as a master’s in public health or business administration.
Online programs are increasingly popular. They are flexible, so students earn their degrees without attending in-person classes. These programs typically include online coursework, clinical rotations, and also exams.
What are the Specializations for Physician Assistants?
Many PAs choose to pursue additional training in a specific area of medicine. They gain experience in their field, which can boost their health care careers. Additionally, a specialization can increase their earning potential. Common specializations for physician assistants include pediatrics, internal medicine, dermatology, psychiatry, surgical specialties, and also women’s health. Below is a list of popular specializations.
|Cardiology||treat heart conditions|
|Dermatology||treat medical conditions and perform elective procedures|
|Endocrinology||specialize in treating endocrine diseases|
|Family Medicine||serve as a patient’s primary care health provider|
|Emergency Medicine||treat individuals in emergency rooms|
|Internal Medicine||focus on disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment|
|Neurology||diagnose and treat neurological disorders|
|Obstetrics||provide prenatal and postnatal care, assist with childbirth|
|Pediatrics||treats younger patients, 18 and under|
|Psychiatry||provide mental health care|
|Surgery||assist with surgery, preoperative and postoperative care|
|Urgent Care||work in urgent care clinics treating minor illnesses and injuries|
What is the Career Outlook for Physician Assistants?
The career outlook for physician assistants is very good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 28 percent increase in the employment of physician assistants over the next ten years. So, by 2031 the labor force will add an additional 38,400 new PA jobs. This is much faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations.
And as the need for better healthcare continues, physicians will continue to utilize the services of physician assistants to cut back on patient costs and also increase productivity. So, the physician assistant job outlook is excellent, meaning there is good job security. A PA is a great career to consider!
What States Employ the Most Physician Assistants?
Job availability also depends on geographic location. So, some states with larger populations have a greater need for PAs. Thus these states employ more of these professionals. Below are the top five states that employ the most Physician Assistants.
|Highest Employment||# Employed|
How Much Does a Physician Assistant Make?
How much do physician assistants make? A PA’s salary depends on the state where they practice, their specialty area, and also experience. As of May 2021, the average yearly wage for physician assistants was $121,530. But salaries range from $77,940 to as high as $164,620. This information is from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
What States Have the Best Wage Potential for a Physician Assistant?
The best states for physician assistants regarding wage potential are those with a high demand for healthcare services. These states include Rhode Island, Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, and also New Hampshire. Other states like Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, and Florida also offer competitive salaries for PA professionals.
Many factors affect Physician Assistant wages, including work experience, certifications held, employer, and also geographic location. But of these factors, location probably plays the most significant role in determining wages and a higher salary. Below are the top-paying states for physician assistants, then followed by the lowest-paying states and territories. You can see, there is a substantial difference between the top and the lowest-paying states.
|Highest Paying||Average Salary|
|Lowest Paying||Average Salary|
Physician Assistant Professional Organizations
What professional organizations exist in physician assistant studies? Several professional organizations and associations are affiliated with this field. These resources can guide you on how to become a physician assistant or advance your career as a PA.
- American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
- PA Education Association (PAEA)
- Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the PA (ARC-PA)
- Association of Postgraduate Physician Assistant Programs (AAPAP)
- National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)
- American Academy of Nephrology PAs (AANPA)
- Association of PAs in Psychiatry (APAP)
- American Association of Surgical PAs (AASPA)
- Society of PAs in Family Medicine (SPAFM)
- Society of Emergency Medicine PAs (SEMPA)
- Urological Association of PAs (UAPA)
- Society of Dermatology PAs (SDPA)
- Academy of Physician Associates In Cardiology (APAC)
- American Society of Endocrine PAs (ASEPA)
- Association of Neurology PAs (ANPA)
Your PA Career
Physician assistants collaborate with other medical professionals like registered nurses and also medical doctors. They provide primary care and also preventive care to patients. Working as a physician assistant can sometimes be challenging, but treating and helping patients is gratifying work.
It takes a graduate degree to join this field of healthcare professionals. However, the positive physician assistant job outlook makes earning a degree worth the time and commitment. This is one of the best health care jobs you can get with a master’s degree!
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