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Physician Assistant

A physician assistant is a medical professional who provides health care service under the guidance and supervision of the doctor(s). A physician assistant is formally educated for the purposes of:

  • Examining patients

  • Diagnosing illness or injury

  • Providing treatments

The work settings of a physician assistant may range from:

  • Private practice offices

  • Clinics

  • Hospitals

  • Public health clinics

  • Schools

  • Prisons

  • Home health care agencies

Job Description:

The responsibilities of a physician assistant would include the following:

  • Reviewing medical histories of patients

  • Conducting physical examinations to check the health of patients

  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, like x-rays and blood tests

  • Making diagnoses with regards to the patients’ injuries and illnesses

  • Providing treatments like:

    • Setting broken bones

    • Immunizing patients

  • Educating and counseling and their families

  • Recording the patients’ progress

  • Researching the latest treatments in order to make sure the quality of care

  • Conducting or participating in outreach programs

  • Speaking to groups regarding the management of diseases and promotion of wellness

How to Become a Physician Assistant?

Educational Requirements:

Typically, physician assistant would require a master’s degree from any of the accredited educational programs. Obtaining this degree would take a minimum of two years of full-time study. The physician assistant educational programs would include classroom as well as lab instructions in subjects like:

  • Pathology

  • Human anatomy

  • Physiology

  • Clinical medicine

  • Pharmacology

  • Physical diagnosis

  • Medical ethics

In addition, these programs would include several hours of supervised clinical training in the areas like:

  • Family medicine

  • Internal medicine

  • Emergency medicine

  • Pediatrics

The students who aspire to become a physician assistant in the future may get enrolled in a bachelor’s program that includes the courses like:

  • Medical terminology

  • Healthcare ethics

  • Statistics

  • Quantitative methods

Licensing and Certification:

In the United States, all the states require the physician assistant to become licensed. For the purpose of becoming licensed, a physician assistant must pass ‘Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE)’ conducted by ‘National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants’. Those physician assistants who pass this examination could make use of the credential – ‘Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C)’.

In order to keep the certification, the physician assistants have to complete hundred hours of continuing education once in every two years.

Job Outlook and Opportunities:

The job opportunities for physician assistants are estimated to increase by 38% from the year 2012 to 2022. This rate is much faster than the median for all the occupations.

A physician assistant who could perform several of the services like a doctor is anticipated to have a bigger role in providing care as he/she is more cost effective when compared to a physician.


According to the ‘Bureau of Labor Statistics’ of the ‘United States Department of Labor’, the median annual pay for a physician assistant was found to be $90,930 per year in May 2012 which equals to the hourly pay of $43.72.


Average Pay                                        :           $90,930

Education                                            :           Master’s degree

Number of Jobs, 2012                         :           86,700

Employment Growth from 2012 to 2022         :           38%

On-the-job training                              :           None

Work Experience                                 :           None