A spotlight on physician assistants: What the future has in store
Published on: Aug 20, 2018
Physician assistants are an integral part of the care team. Working under the supervision of physicians and surgeons, PAs are trained to examine patients as well as make diagnoses and provide treatment.
In most states, PAs can prescribe medication, supervise technicians and perform pre- and post-operative care.
Many opportunities for PAs
As with physicians, PAs have many different opportunities within the continuum of care. Some PAs specialize in certain areas of medicine, such as orthopedics, pediatrics or general surgery. Depending on the specialization, PAs can take on a wide-variety of tasks. For instance, a PA specializing in thoracic surgery may assist during operations.
In a family care setting, PAs often serve as the primary point of contact between a clinic and patients. Because PAs are trained and licensed to diagnose and prescribe, they can often take care of patients on their own - though always under the supervision of a practicing doctor. Nevertheless, PAs can serve a very important role in communities with few doctors.
There will always be a need for medical professionals, and the current stable of incoming students cannot keep up with future demand. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the demand for PAs will increase by 37 percent between 2016 and 2026. To compare, the average American job has a growth outlook of 6 percent or less.
In other words, it's a good time to become a PA. BLS reported the average salary for PAs in 2017 was $104,860. With rising demand and competitive compensation, there are few reasons not to pursue a job as a PA.
Physician assistant education
According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, incoming students need at least two years of basic college coursework - including courses in the behavioral sciences - before they can pursue a PA track.
A PA degree program generally consists of courses in chemistry, biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology. Prior to becoming a PA, candidates often need prior healthcare experience. AAPA noted that experience as a medical assistant, Peace Corps volunteer or lab assistant often satisfies this requirement. Otherwise, experience in another medical profession such as nursing will work fine.
Looking to pursue a career as a PA? Visit myHealthTalent.com and sign up for free job alerts today. Working under the supervision of physicians and surgeons, PAs are trained to examine patients as well as make diagnoses and provide treatment.