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Physician Assistant Career Facts and Specializations

Physician Assistant Career Facts

- The typical physician assistant program last about 2 years 
- Earnings and job opportunities are on the rise

Physician Assistant Career Description

Physician assistants provide healthcare under the supervision of doctors. They are not however; to be confused with medical assistants, as they perform different tasks altogether. PA's are trained to give diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic healthcare services. They are part of a healthcare team that makes medical histories, examines and treats patients, orders and interprets laboratory tests and x-rays, makes diagnoses, and prescribes medications.

Physician Assistant Career Details

PA's often find themselves in rural or inner city clinics in which they are the primary care providers. This is because the doctor is only present 1 or 2 days a week. The PA still confers with the doctor and other medical professionals, which is required by law. These same PA's may also make house calls or go to hospitals and nursing homes to see patients and report back to the physician. In terms of job specifics PA's may find themselves treating minor injuries by suturing, splinting, and casting. They also instruct and counsel patients, and carry out the patients' respective therapies. They have to know the patients they are tending to and cater to their needs as necessary. The specific duties of the PA tend to vary in each situation. The duties are usually determined by state law and the supervisor. They can expect to be placed in a position that can best assist their supervising physician. It can only help potential PA's to familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations in the state they plan on working in.

Programs to Consider:

Physician Assistant Career Specializations

Areas of specialty include primary care areas. These areas include general internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine. Others may find themselves specializing in surgery, orthopedics, and emergency medicine. Those involved with surgery may actually assist during a major surgery, but this depends on training and capabilities. Nearly every procedure a physician performs requires some type of assistance.

Physician Assistant Career Working Environment

For the most part, working areas are comfortable environments. Those who work in surgery can expect to stand for a while or do a lot of walking. They can also have varying schedules. Such schedules will largely depend on their supervisor's hours. A typical schedule involves many of weekends and nights, as well as early morning hours. Physician assistants usually work a 40 hour week and may have to be on call.

Physician Assistant Career Required Training

All PA's must complete a state induced formal education program. There are plenty of such programs for students to take across the country. In fact there were 129 of them accounted for in 2001. Half of these programs even lead to a master's degree. Another interesting fact: most PA students already have at least one bachelor's degree. The programs tend to take 2 years to complete. A good portion of such programs have clinical teaching affiliations with other medical schools. Students usually take courses at health centers and medicals schools or even four year universities. Some students might even find programs at junior colleges. To become a PA you also must pass the Physician Assistants National Certifying Examination, which is administered by the National Commission of Certification of Physician Assistants. The test is open to all graduates of the PA curriculum and is in accordance with laws governing the practice of PA's. Even after becoming certified, PA's will be required to complete 100 hours of continuing medical education. This makes sure they are up to par with any policy changes, and the 100 hours will be necessary every 2 years. This, however, is not the end of their refresher courses, as every 6 years they will be required to pass a recertification examination or complete an alternative program as necessary.

Physician Assistant Career Coursework

Most programs will demand that their students have completed at least 2 years of college. Aside from that, these same students will also be required to have some experience in the healthcare field. Some of the courses taken during these 2 yours will most likely include Biology, English, Math, and Social Sciences. The actual PA education will cover courses in human anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, microbiology, clinical pharmacology, clinical medicine, geriatric and home healthcare, disease prevention, and biomedical ethics. There will also be hands-on experience in which they will be supervised while receiving real-life training. Them may even get to intern during a "rotation" which may lead to a permanent position.

Physician Assistant Career Future Job Outlook

This is a stable area of work and is expected to grow, especially in rural and inner city clinics. Since the health services industry is expanding, future PA's can expect to enter a healthy job market. Physicians are now hiring more assistants as it has been deemed more cost effective and helps relieve them of certain duties and tasks. Areas that are projected to have a greater need of PA's include hospitals, academic medical centers, and prisons.

Physician Assistant Salary

Median salary for 2000- $61,910

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