According to Money magazine, physician assistant is one of the top 10 best jobs in America. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 38% job growth rate for the profession through 2022. In addition to the demand, the job is attractive because:
The average length of the program is 27 months.
The average starting salary is $90,000.
It offers the flexibility to move into different areas of medicine without additional education and training.
Physician assistants (PAs) are medical providers who are licensed to diagnose and treat illness and disease and prescribe medication for patients. PAs work in physician offices, hospitals and clinics in collaboration with a licensed physician. Because of their advanced education in general medicine, modeled after physician education, PAs can treat patients with significant autonomy within the physician/PA relationship. In the primary care setting, PAs can provide almost all of the clinical services that physicians provide, including performing physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses and prescribing medications.
PAs work together with physicians as part of an integrated medical team. PAs have their own patients and, under a written agreement with a licensed physician, make clinical decisions and provide a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and health maintenance services. The physician-PA team relationship is fundamental to the PA profession and enhances the delivery of high-quality health care.
Every day, thousands of people have access to quality health care because there are PAs in their communities. PAs are critical to increasing access to care for rural and other underserved patients, as they are often the only health providers in these areas. PAs made nearly 300 million patient visits and prescribed or recommended approximately 332 million medications were in 2008. PAs also work in specialties outside of primary care. The PA profession is designed to be adaptable, preparing PAs to work with physicians in primary care or medical and surgical specialties and sub-specialties, as the need arises.
PAs are focused on patient care and may undertake educational, research and administrative work. Studies show that in a primary care setting, PAs can provide nearly all of the clinical services a physician does, including:
Taking medical histories
Performing physical exams
Ordering and interpreting laboratory tests
Diagnosing and treating illnesses
Assisting in surgery