Physician Assistants

Physician Assistant Jobs, Medical Jobs


The physician assistant specialty is included here along with a sampling of resources from the all new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion! and features physician assistant working conditions, job outlook, training, employment, earnings, and related occupations. Occupational groups are divided into primary and related occupations so that individuals can investigate other fields for additional job opportunities. Physician assistant are available in most communities and all major medical facilities.  





Related Occupations:

  • Audiologists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Registered Nurses
  • Speech-Language Pathologists


Significant Points


  • All states require physician assistants to complete an accredited education program and to pass a national exam in order to obtain a license.
  • Physician assistants rank among the fastest growing occupations, as physicians and health care institutions increasingly utilize physician assistants in order to contain costs.
  • Job opportunities should be good, particularly in rural and inner city clinics.
Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Nature of Work

Physician assistants (PAs) practice medicine under the supervision of physicians and surgeons. They should not be confused with medical assistants, who perform routine clinical and clerical tasks. (Medical assistants are discussed elsewhere in the this book.) PAs are formally trained to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health care services, as delegated by a physician. Working as members of the health care team, they take medical histories, examine and treat patients, order and interpret laboratory tests and x-rays, and make diagnoses. They also treat minor injuries, by suturing, splinting, and casting. PAs record progress notes, instruct and counsel patients, and order or carry out therapy. In 48 states and the District of Columbia, physician assistants may prescribe medications. PAs also may have managerial duties. Some order medical supplies or equipment and supervise technicians and assistants.

Physician assistants work under the supervision of a physician. However, PAs may be the principal care providers in rural or inner city clinics, where a physician is present for only 1 or 2 days each week. In such cases, the PA confers with the supervising physician and other medical professionals as needed and as required by law. PAs also may make house calls or go to hospitals and nursing care facilities to check on patients, after which they report back to the physician.


The duties of physician assistants are determined by the supervising physician and by state law. Aspiring PAs should investigate the laws and regulations in the states in which they wish to practice.

Many PAs work in primary care specialties, such as general internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine. Other specialty areas include general and thoracic surgery, emergency medicine, orthopedics, and geriatrics. PAs specializing in surgery provide preoperative and post-operative care and may work as first or second assistants during major surgery.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Working Conditions

Although PAs usually work in a comfortable, well-lighted environment, those in surgery often stand for long periods, and others do considerable walking. Schedules vary according to the practice setting, and often depend on the hours of the supervising physician. The work week of hospital-based PAs may include weekends, nights, or early morning hospital rounds to visit patients. These workers also may be on call. PAs in clinics usually work a 40-hour week.



Job Lists Physician Assistant Jobs (Click on link for list of current jobs)

Physician assistants held about 66,000 jobs in 2006. The number of jobs is greater than the number of practicing PAs because some hold two or more jobs. For example, some PAs work with a supervising physician, but also work in another practice, clinic, or hospital. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, about 15 percent of actively practicing PAs worked in more than one clinical job concurrently in 2006.

More than half of jobs for PAs were in the offices of physicians. About a quarter were in hospitals, public or private. The rest were mostly in outpatient care centers, including health maintenance organizations; the Federal Government; and public or private colleges, universities, and professional schools. A few were self-employed.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Scholarships / Tuition Help

Physician assistant programs usually last at least 2 years. Admission requirements vary by program, but many require at least 2 years of college and some health care experience. All States require that PAs complete an accredited, formal education program and pass a National exam to obtain a license.

Education and training. Physician assistant education programs usually last at least 2 years and are full time. Most programs are in schools of allied health, academic health centers, medical schools, or 4-year colleges; a few are in community colleges, the military, or hospitals. Many accredited PA programs have clinical teaching affiliations with medical schools.

In 2007, 136 education programs for physician assistants were accredited or provisionally accredited by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. More than 90 of these programs offered the option of a master’s degree, and the rest offered either a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree. Most applicants to PA educational programs already have a bachelor’s degree.

Admission requirements vary, but many programs require 2 years of college and some work experience in the health care field. Students should take courses in biology, English, chemistry, mathematics, psychology, and the social sciences. Many PAs have prior experience as registered nurses, and others come from varied backgrounds, including military corpsman or medics and allied health occupations such as respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

PA education includes classroom instruction in biochemistry, pathology, human anatomy, physiology, microbiology, clinical pharmacology, clinical medicine, geriatric and home health care, disease prevention, and medical ethics. Students obtain supervised clinical training in several areas, including family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, prenatal care and gynecology, geriatrics, emergency medicine, psychiatry, and pediatrics. Sometimes, PA students serve one or more of these rotations under the supervision of a physician who is seeking to hire a PA. The rotations often lead to permanent employment.


Online Degree & Certificate Nursing Programs

Licensure. All States and the District of Columbia have legislation governing the qualifications or practice of physician assistants. All jurisdictions require physician assistants to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) and open only to graduates of accredited PA education programs. Only those successfully completing the examination may use the credential “Physician Assistant-Certified.” To remain certified, PAs must complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every 2 years. Every 6 years, they must pass a recertification examination or complete an alternative program combining learning experiences and a take-home examination.

Other qualifications. Physician assistants must have a desire to serve patients and be self-motivated. PAs also must have a good bedside manner, emotional stability, and the ability to make decisions in emergencies. Physician assistants must be willing to study throughout their career to keep up with medical advances.

Certification and advancement. Some PAs pursue additional education in a specialty such as surgery, neonatology, or emergency medicine. PA postgraduate educational programs are available in areas such as internal medicine, rural primary care, emergency medicine, surgery, pediatrics, neonatology, and occupational medicine. Candidates must be graduates of an accredited program and be certified by the NCCPA.
As they attain greater clinical knowledge and experience, PAs can advance to added responsibilities and higher earnings. However, by the very nature of the profession, clinically practicing PAs always are supervised by physicians.


Online Degree & Certificate Nursing Programs
Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


Job Outlook

Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average as health care establishments increasingly use physician assistants to contain costs. Job opportunities for PAs should be good, particularly in rural and inner city clinics, as these settings typically have difficulty attracting physicians.

Employment change. Employment of physician assistants is expected to grow 27 percent from 2006 to 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations. Projected rapid job growth reflects the expansion of health care industries and an emphasis on cost containment, which results in increasing use of PAs by health care establishments.

Physicians and institutions are expected to employ more PAs to provide primary care and to assist with medical and surgical procedures because PAs are cost-effective and productive members of the health care team. Physician assistants can relieve physicians of routine duties and procedures. Telemedicine—using technology to facilitate interactive consultations between physicians and physician assistants—also will expand the use of physician assistants.

Besides working in traditional office-based settings, PAs should find a growing number of jobs in institutional settings such as hospitals, academic medical centers, public clinics, and prisons. PAs also may be needed to augment medical staffing in inpatient teaching hospital settings as the number of hours physician residents are permitted to work is reduced, encouraging hospitals to use PAs to supply some physician resident services.

Job prospects. Job opportunities for PAs should be good, particularly in rural and inner-city clinics because those settings have difficulty attracting physicians. In addition to job openings from employment growth, openings will result from the need to replace physician assistants who retire or leave the occupation permanently during the 2006-16 decade. Opportunities may be best in States that allow PAs a wider scope of practice, such as allowing PAs to prescribe medications.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp




Median annual earnings of wage-and-salary physician assistants were $74,980 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $62,430 and $89,220. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $43,100, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $102,230.

According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, median income for physician assistants in full-time clinical practice was $80,356 in 2006; median income for first-year graduates was $69,517. Income varies by specialty, practice setting, geographical location, and years of experience. Employers often pay for their employees’ liability insurance, registration fees with the Drug Enforcement Administration, State licensing fees, and credentialing fees.

Source : Health Care Job Explosion!, Fourth Edition By Dennis V. Damp


RESOURCES (Partial Listing)

Physician assistant job resources are presented in the paperback version of Health Care Job Explosion! 4th edition by Dennis V. Damp for this occupational group. Resources include Job Ads, Job Hotlines, Job Fairs, Placement services, Associations, Books, Directories and Internet (Web) Sites. Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only). Also available at all major bookstores.


Advancedpracticejobs - ( www.advancedpracticejobs.com , info@avancedpracticejobs.com ) Jobs for physician assistants and advanced practice nurses. Search by region or state, by specialty, or by employment status. Register free to receive emails about jobs that fit your classification.


American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) - 950 North Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314; 703/836-2272. ( http://www.aapa.org/ , aapa@aapa.org ) Offers an extensive array of member services. The web site “Employment Opportunities” section is a part of healthecareers network. Log on to post your résumé and get notices of jobs fitting your qualifications. View a list of all PA specialties at http://members.aapa.org/extra/constituents/special-menu.cfm.


American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants (AASPA) - PMB 201, 4267 NW Federal Highway, Jensen Beach, FL 34957; 888/882-2772. ( http://www.aaspa.com , aaspa@aaspa.com ). The web site posts job opportunities and has a section for pre-PA students. Student membership benefits include a résumé review service, mentoring or networking opportunities, and scholarship opportunities.

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Inc. - 12000 Findley Road, Suite 200, Duluth, GA 30097; 678/417-8100. ( http://www.nccpa.net , nccpa@nccpa.net ). Administers the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) that is a prerequisite for licensure in all U.S. states. Contact for eligibility requirements and a description of the examination.


Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) - 950 North Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314: 703/548-5538. ( www.apap.org, techsupport@apap.org ).


Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA) - 222 S. Westmonte Drive, #101, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714; 407/774-7880. ( http://www.sempa.org , info@sempa.org ) Web site has listing of surgical PA programs, and describes scholarship program for members.



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Other Occupations


The following occupations are featured in the all new 4th edition of Health Care Job Explosion!. Each of the following occupations are featured exactly like the Physician Assistant description and includes resources for each listing. Your local library may have this book in their reference section or you can purchase a copy for $19.95 plus $5.75 shipping with all major credit cards from our toll free service at 1-800-782-7424 (Orders Only). Also available at bookstores.

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