My dear cousin, Amanda, graduated with a degree as a Physician Assistant last year, at the age of 23! She completed her studies at Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education in New York. Weeks after she graduated from the physician assistant program, Amanda was fully employed in a large hospital, delivering babies! And because she’s young and her job has set hours, she’s actually able to hold a second part-time in another hospital for additional income.
The profession of Physician Assistant is one of the most promising and affordable careers in Medicine. Physician Assistants are increasingly becoming an essential professional force in hospital settings, clinics and other institutions. If you have been considering pursuing a career in nursing or medicine, take some time to learn more about the physician assistant profession. It might be the right fit for you!
What is a Physician Assistant?
Physician assistants are healthcare professionals who are authorized by the state to practice medicine as part of a team with physicians. They are:
- Certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants
- Licensed, certified or registered in the state in which they practice
Physician Assistants deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services, including:
- Conducting physical exams
- Obtaining medical histories
- Diagnosing and treating illnesses
- Ordering and interpreting tests
- Counseling on preventive health care
- Assisting in surgery
- Prescribing medications
How Many Physician Assistants (PA’s) are Practicing Today?
AAPA estimates there are 81,000 certified PAs in the country.
Where Can PAs Practice?
All states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have laws or regulations authorizing PA practice.
Where Can PAs Prescribe?
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have enacted laws that authorize PA prescribing.
What Requirements Must PAs Meet In Order to Practice?
In order to practice, PAs must have attended one of the accredited physician assistant programs. The PAs then must pass the national certification examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. PAs then need to obtain state authorization to practice through state licensure, registration or certification.
To maintain national certification, PAs must complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and pass a re-certification examination every six years.
How Many Accredited Physician Assistant Programs Are There?
There are more than 159 physician assistant programs in the U.S. Programs are accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant ARC-PA is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
- The typical PA program is 24-32 months long and requires at least four years of college and some health care experience prior to admission. The majority of students have a BA/BS degree and prior healthcare experience before admission to a PA program.
- While all physician assistant programs recognize the professional component of PA education with a document of completion for the professional credential (PA), 80 percent of physician assistant programs also award a master’s degree. (One hundred thirteen award master’s degrees, 21 award bachelor’s degree, 3 award associate degrees and 5 award certificates.)
How Many Student PAs Are There?
Approximately 12,470 students are currently enrolled in physician assistant programs, and more than 6,000 PA students graduate each year.
What is A PA’s Income?
PAs earn a median salary of $90,000 annually, according to the 2010 AAPA Physician Assistant Census Survey.
What is the Outlook of the Profession?
Approximately 84 percent of all individuals eligible to practice as PAs were in clinical practice at the beginning of May, 2010.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of PA jobs will increase by 27 percent between 2006 and 2016. The BLS predicts the total number of jobs in the country will grow by 10 percent over this 10-year period.