Physician Assistant

So you think you would like to be a physician assistant…

Can you answer these critical questions?

  • Who in particular, or what activities or experiences have influenced you to consider a career in medicine?
  • What is it going to take for you to train?
  • What options will you have?
  • What is the best career path for you?
  • Will there be a place for you?

What you can expect:

  • A career where you to make a real difference in the world (communities, families, and individuals)
  • To be constantly challenged
  • To have job security
  • To serve others by improving lives
  • Apply the art and science of medicine

The Role of Physician Assistants

Physician assistants are often referred to as either mid-level providers or as physician extenders and are generally seen as providers that are between most nurses and physicians in terms of their clinical training and clinical authority.

Most physician assistants work in medical offices seeing patients; surgical PAs typically work with surgeons in operating rooms. Physician assistants can further specialize in such fields as family medicine, internal medicine, orthopedics, cardiology, and surgery.

Physician assistants have and are increasingly becoming integral to what is regarded as the best practice clinical team approach to health care.

Physician Assistant Training

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s Program from an accredited PA school
  • Science prerequisite
  • Experience in clinical settings
  • Typically of a year of biomedical didactics followed by a year of intense clinical rotations

While the role of a physician assistant varies depending on state laws that specify the scope of practice allowed, PAs often work very independently with minimal physician oversight. As with Nurse Practitioners, physician assistants are being given broader clinical authority to see patients and diagnose them, to prescribe medications, and to perform many specified procedures much like a physician.

Choosing This Field

Many students arrived at the decision to pursue physician assistant training during the later stages of college or after receipt of the bachelor’s degree. Often, the decision is made after the student has been engaged in significant clinical experience.

The sources of influence identified typically include: enjoying sciences in school, experiencing illness through personal or family health issues, having a health related experience volunteering or shadowing a physician assistant, and encouragement from role models who are in the health professions.

Your Path to Becoming a Physician Assistant

  • You might take a straight forward path (college, clinical experience, PA school, and then directly into your practice career).
  • You might go into your training with a particular clinical or specialty focus.
  • You might discover your specialty direction as you move through your clinical rotations.

There are so many possibilities. Stay open to your options along the way.