How to Become a Physician Assistant

A Physician Assistant works under the supervision of a physician and provides medical care to patients. Most physician assistants provide primary care, which includes the practice areas of family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine. However, a PA can go into other areas of practice, such as emergency medicine and geriatrics. A physician assistant who chooses to go the surgical route is entrusted with pre and post-operative duties while also assisting physicians during the actual surgery. Physician assistants do not have the same authority as a doctor, although they do have more authority than nurses.

In some areas, mostly rural, physician assistants provide primary care for a good portion of a week. However, physician assistants are still required by law to confer with their supervising physicians and do not have autonomy. In some instances, physician assistants make house calls and even see patients in nursing homes. Once that is completed, they are required to report their findings back to their supervising physician.

The hours logged by a physician assistant are intended to reflect the hours that their supervising physician works over the course of a week. This profession does not provide the autonomy for them to work with free reign. There are also individual state laws which are very specific on the duties that are allowed to be carried out by a PA. There are many different work settings as a physician assistant finds employment in hospitals, clinics, private practices and other healthcare facilities.