A physician assistant (PA) is a licensed medical professional and caregiver. who typically works in a clinic, doctor's office, or hospital. The PA can perform many of the routine work that doctors might otherwise perform, thus allowing the physician to spend more time with non-routine cases and patients. In many jurisdictions, a PA is licensed to perform routine diagnoses and to write prescriptions.
The PA will typically be tasked with seeing patients who present with routine sicknesses or injuries. The PA normally assesses the situation and then treats the patient, according to medically accepted standards and practices. The PA may determine that the patient requires more specific care and will bring in a physician to escalate the care. A PA can perform regular procedures, such as stitching up minor cuts and setting small fractures or breaks. The PA may also assist a physician in preliminary prep work on patients.
To be a PA, a person must normally have a bachelor’s degree in biology or a similar field. He or she may also need a post-graduate education that is similar to, but not quite as stringent as, that required by regular physicians. The PA must also pass board certification exams and keep these licenses up-to-date through any required continuing education. Most physician assistants work in a clinical environment during regular business hours of the week.
Physician Assistant (PA) Tasks
- Conduct complete physicals, provide treatment and counsel patients
- Administer therapeutic procedures
- Provide physicians with assistance during surgery or complicated medical procedures
- Prescribe therapy or medication with physician approval
- Order and interpret test results and recommend treatment of patients