Becoming a Physician Assistant can be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made because you’re entering a career that is in high demand, so your chances of finding a job and becoming a licensed PA are more than excellent!
A physician assistant, or commonly known as PA, performs medical duties similar to what a real physician does. Since most physicians are entering specialty areas in their respective fields, there will be an increased demand for Physician Assistants by as much as 30% (from 2010-2020).
Roughly half of PAs worked in Physician’s offices. Hospitals would be the 2nd most preferred workplace. While less than 20% works in Outpatient Centers, Govt. clinics, and the rest teach in colleges and universities.
Physician Assistant Job Description
The job description for a physician assistant will vary depending on where you are applying for work.
As an example, PAs in Physician Offices will have a different set of responsibilities for Physician Assistants working in Hospitals.
Typically, however Physician assistants typically do the following (must be under the guidance & supervision of Physicians and Surgeons).
For more information about the complete PA job description, click here.
Physician Assistant Programs
All PA programs must pass accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc or (ARC-PA). Make sure that when you are looking for schools, they have accredited programs for PAs.
Usually, Physician Assistant Programs can last up to 27 weeks and it includes the usual “instructor-based class” and “clinical rotations”.
In order to enroll in these programs, you’ll need prior health care experience or at least 2 year’s worth of college units.
For a more detailed discussion on Physician Assistant programs, click here.
Physician Assistant Licensure and Exam
All states require licensing before you can perform work as a Physician Assistant. After passing the exam, you’ll become “Physician Assistant-Certified”.
In order to become licensed, you’ll need to be able to pass the certifying exam, Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam or PANCE for short.
PANCE tests your medical and surgical knowledge. There are no pen and papers in this test because you have to take the test on a computer.
In order to take the PANCE exam, you’ll need to finish an accredited program for Physician Assistants.
Unfortunately, even if you’ve completed your medical degree in a foreign country, you would still need to complete an accredited program in order to be eligible for PANCE.
Physician Assistant Jobs
As what I’ve mentioned before, the Job outlook for a Physician Assistant is bright. Since more and more physicians are specializing in their fields, there will be an increased demand for people who can perform “routine care”.
The job opportunities are also increasing because of the increased demand for healthcare service by the aging population of “baby boomers”.
These baby boomers who are now 60+ years old would be prone to medical illnesses like cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, type 2 Diabetes mellitus, and CVS (Cerebrovascular stroke).
Physician Assistant Salary
PA’s make a median salary of Eighty Six Thousand, Four Hundred and Ten US Dollars* ($86,410). The lowest 10 percent of PAs make about Fifty Grand a month, and the Top 10% makes about $110,000+.
While getting a higher salary is great in any career, it’s not the determining factor why people wanted to become a Physician Assistant. A study conducted by AAPA, suggested that as high as 89% of people practicing PAs would choose the same profession again if they were asked to choose a career.
Testimonials by some PAs why they choose to be one..
“I have been influenced to become a Physician Assistant, because I knew one and I saw that they love their profession.”
"This is the job that I love. I can connect with patients, I use my scientific and medical skills, and I can be hands-on.”
“I love the flexibility that the PA profession offers.I can teach, evaluate, prescribe, etc. I’m glad to be a part of making people’s lives better.”