Many people who dreamt of becoming doctors, performing surgeries and treating patients but, could not accomplish all this due to various reasons like time, responsibilities, finances etc., get disheartened and feel for themselves. For all such people, here is a soother. A Physician Assistant! A physician assistant (abbreviated P.A., also known as Physician Associate) is not a doctor and there is no doubt that they would NOT be called a doctor. But, a physician assistant is the next thing to doctor and they do most of the things a doctor does! And this is a good option because it does not take years like a degree in medicine and also, fiscally viable. Read further and you will be able find answers to many of your questions regarding a P.A.!
Who is a Physician Assistant and what does a Physician Assistant do?
A Physician Assistant is a person who works either at a clinic or a hospital or other health facilities and is supervised by a doctor. Their primary job is to take care of the patients. They are supposed to deal, diagnose and treat the illness of a patient. This includes giving a prescription, assisting in surgeries, order to perform various kinds of tests on the patient, analyze the reports and treating the illness accordingly, counseling the patients, etc. However, they are bound by certain limitations and these limitations vary for each of them depending on a various factors like- the doctor, who is the head, the state in which they are working, the institution they are working with, etc. A Physician Assistant(P.A) may not exceed the limit imposed according to the bond between them and the doctor/ institution. However, they are given allowance to a lot of tools to treat the patients despite these limitations.They are not to be confused with a medical assistant.A medical assistant has absolutely no knowledge about the medical aspects and often deals with the non-technical issues of a health-care institution. On the contrary, a Physician Assistant is a big post, next only to the doctor himself, and can treat the patients without having to get any further training from the doctor. They will initially discuss about the patients on the schedule and how the patients should be treated with the doctor. Make sure that you know that they may not cross the limitations imposed by the doctor however.
Physician Assistants are paid well, though, not as much as the doctors themselves. There is a considerable difference in the pay scales, which of course, depend on the qualification and experience. The lowest pay given would be about $45,000- $55,000. Majority of them earned between $65,000 and $100,000 which is comparably higher than x-ray technician (salary of an x ray technician is 50,000$ on an average). High end P.A.s earned above $110,000. Apart from this, the institutions also pay for the liability insurance and fees for registration, state licensing, etc. The pay also depends on the things like location of work, specialty of work, quality of the work needed. On the whole, they get paid well, it offers a competitive pay and package and also a good deal of perks. All of this is at a comparatively less competitive and easier approach!
Always Choose Accredited Physician Assistant Programs
Physician assistance is one of the most thriving fields of the healthcare industry which has grown tremendously in the past few years with increased demand for the physician assistants all over the world. The primary job of a physician assistant is to offer medical service and care to patients in various healthcare settings. There are more than 140 accredited physician assistant programs in the United States which provide a certificate, bachelor’s or master’s degree. A physician assistant program should be chosen with utmost care and it must be ensured that the program is accredited. It’s necessary to enroll in an accredited physician assistant program as it allows the students to appear in the national certification exam after they complete the program successfully.
The most renowned universities which offer accredited physician assistant programs in the United States include Midwestern University, University of Southern California and Emory University.
Midwestern University offers a 27 month program which confers master’s of medical science degree at the successful completion of the program. The basic requirement for this program is that the candidate should have a bachelor’s degree in science and the student should have studied courses like biology with lab, organic chemistry with lab, social science and English composition. Apart from this, it also checks the Graduate Record exam scores of the interested students.
University of Southern California confers a degree of master of physician assistant practice. The program offered by the university in physician assistance is of 33 months. The major courses which the aspirant must have studied for enrolling in this program include general chemistry with lab, general biology with lab, physiology with lab, introductory psychology, English composition, statistics and a minimum of two semesters of beginning Spanish. Apart from this, the interested students should have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and three letters of recommendation.
The basic eligibility criteria for enrollment in the physician assistance program offered by Emory University are that the student should have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 2,000 hours of work experience in healthcare. Apart from this, the Graduate Record Exam scores are also checked. A dual degree program is also available for the physician assistant students who wish to attain the master’s of public health degree as well in this field.
So, this was a brief description of the accredited physician assistant programs with information on some of the most famous available in the United States of America.
Physician Assistant Schools by State:
Employment Details For A Physician Assistant
Physician Assistants are employed in many places. So, there is absolutely no dearth of jobs for them. In fact, they can work in more than one place if interested. And the future of Physician Assistant sector is budding and encouraging. Getting into some statistics, according to a study, jobs increase by 27% from 2006 to 2016. And according to another study, this is the 7th fastest growing field from 2008- 2018 and it grows by 39% during this time frame. And with the national average pay of $85,000, there is a vast demand and craze for these posts. Owing to the growth of medical industry, this sector can accommodate a huge number of employees in the coming 2-7 years and it is not just the physician assistant there are many other fields that one can select in health care sector for instance, phlebotomy training. Which means that you still have time to make career with medical industry, if you start everything from scratch even now! And that’s great news, isn’t it??!!
Educational Qualification and Practical Exposure
To become a Physician Assistant, one needs to obviously get a degree from a certified college. There are many certified colleges for Physician Assistant education in the country. Most schools come up with a practical training program with the degree so the student is ready to take up the job as soon as he/she graduated. A master’s degree is necessary to get in to the higher levels of jobs and Ph.D.’s are also awarded by some schools. However, the usage of Dr. by the doctorate degree holders is avoided in work area just to avoid any conflicts with the actual doctor’s reference. A bachelor’s degree in health care is recommended although it is not necessary. The training lasts about 2-3 years and can be completed during the bachelor’s or master’s degree. The minimum requirement would be 4-7 years of education after secondary education. They are not required to do a specialized residency; however, they are not prohibited from doing so. There are several post-nominal initials like PA, PA-C etc. and are used for specific purposes and at specific situations. The training and degrees are also offered in countries like (but not limited to) England, Canada, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Scotland, South Africa and Germany.
Physician Assistant Requirements
This is a sensitive job that involves other people, especially sick, and people related to the patients who are worried. So, this job needs a lot of patience and the stable mind which can tackle tough and emotional situations. This is also a job that involves a lot of responsibility. So, the person at this post must be competent enough to supplement a doctor’s job and at the same time, must be qualified enough to deal a situation in the absence of the doctor. This job requires updating the knowledge continuously and so, this involves in constant study. All throughout the career, the Physician Assistant should be willing to study to gain more knowledge. They should have the ability to understand the patient and giving him right medication. They should also be able to work under the doctor and follow him without overtaking the limitations imposed. They should be able to maintain the balance in order to effectively carry out the job assigned to them. The self-confidence also counts a lot too. This is a job of confidence. Patients have faith in the person who heals them. And such a person needs to be confident about his job. Failing to which, he/she will be responsible for many adverse effects.
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On the whole, Physician Assistant, just being next to a doctor, and being able to prescribe medicines, is one of the best jobs in the market today. Not only fiscally, but also emotionally, it is a satisfying job. This is a job where you can find job satisfaction, self-satisfaction and service-satisfaction together. Though accountable to a doctor at the end of the day, most of the job is to be carried out individually. So, this job also gives a good deal of responsibility and the feeling of respect.