About the Physician Assistant Profession
A Physician Assistant (PA) is a nationally certified and state-licensed medical professional. PAs practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. They practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and the uniformed services.
Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, including family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery and psychiatry. The work of physician assistants depends in large part on their specialty and what their supervising physician needs them to do. Their specific duties and the extent to which they must be supervised by physicians and surgeons differ from state to state.
According to the United States Department of Labor:
- Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients.
- Physician assistants typically do the following:
- Take or review patients’ medical histories
- Examine patients
- Order and interpret diagnostic tests, such as x rays or blood tests
- Diagnose a patient’s injury or illness
- Give treatment, such as setting broken bones and immunizing patients
- Educate and counsel patients and their families—for example, answering questions about how to care for a child with asthma
- Prescribe medicine
- Assess and record a patient’s progress
- Research the latest treatments to ensure the quality of patient care
- Conduct or participate in outreach programs, talking to groups about managing diseases and promoting wellness
The job outlook according to the United States Department of Labor is very bright. The US News World Report currently identifies physician assistants as the 3rd best job of 2020. “Physician assistants are expected to continue to be an important part of providing health care services, as they can be trained more quickly than physicians but can provide some of the same services.” (US World News Report. 100 Best Jobs. Accessed February 29, 2020)
As demand for healthcare services grows, physician assistants will be needed to provide care to patients. Employment of physician assistants is expected to increase “much faster than average”, with a 31% job growth from 2018 to 2028. The salary for PAs is considerably higher than most occupations, with a median annual wage of $108,610 versus $38,640 for all occupations. (US Department of Labor and Statistics. Physician Assistants. Accessed February 29, 2020) The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) states “The demand for PAs is so high that three-quarters of PAs receive multiple job offers upon graduation.” According to AAPA, there were over 131,000 physician assistants in 2019. The AAPA 2019 salary report found that the median annual salary for a physician assistant in Ohio was $103,390 with the cost of living adjusted base salary of $115,931, ranking it the 3rd best in the country. (American Academy of Physician Assistants. What is a PA? Accessed February 29, 2020)