An orthopedic physician assistant (PA) works in clinical environment to provide physicians with assistance related to orthopedics. They perform tasks such as applying and removing splints and casts, removing sutures, changing dressings, and performing joint aspirations. Orthopedic physician assistants often need to determine a patient's need for physical therapy and may be responsible for referrals. They frequently perform rounds on behalf of the physician and report any problems back to the physician.
Additionally, orthopedic physician assistants perform wellness assessments (physicals) on patients and determine appropriate treatment procedures. They should be able to document a patient's condition accurately in the patient's records. This job includes patient education, so the ability to communicate clearly is vital. They also must understand how to interpret MRIs and the results of common lab tests. In all tasks, orthopedic physician assistants must maintain patient confidentiality.
Orthopedic physician assistants generally report to an orthopedic physician. Hours for this position generally vary with the needs of the facility, and weekend and holiday hours may be necessary. Orthopedic physicians may also be on call. Orthopedic physician assistants must have completed an accredited physician assistant program, and they should be licensed to practice in their state. Additional certifications are often required but vary based on the employer.
Orthopedic Physician Assistant (PA) Tasks
- Perform routine outpatient procedures and surgeries including: regional anesthesia, tendon repair, incision and drainage, and wound closure and management.
- Assist orthopedic physician in examining and diagnosing skeletal and joint problems.
- Assist in surgery, performing actions delegated by physician to allow her/him to focus on more technical aspects of the operation.
- Conduct hospital rounds, write orders and perform other administrative and clerical tasks as needed.