Physician's Assistant

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Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine under the direction and supervision of physicians and surgeons. They are formally trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment.

Physician assistants typically do the following:

  • Work under the supervision of a physician or surgeon
  • Review patients’ medical histories
  • Do physical exams to check patients’ health
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests, such as x rays or blood tests
  • Make preliminary diagnoses concerning a patient’s injury or illness
  • Provide treatment, such as setting broken bones and giving immunizations
  • Counsel patients and their families; for example, answering questions about how to care for a child with asthma
  • Prescribe medicine, when needed
  • Record a patient’s progress
  • Complete insurance paperwork

Physician assistants are different from medical assistants. Medical assistants do routine clinical and clerical tasks; they do not practice medicine.

Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, including primary care and family medicine, emergency medicine, and psychiatry. The work of physician assistants depends in large part on their specialty and what their supervising physician needs them to do. For more information, see the profile on physicians and surgeons.

For example, a physician assistant working in surgery may close incisions and provide care before and after the operation. A physician assistant working in pediatrics may examine a child or give routine vaccinations. In rural areas and inner cities, physician assistants may be the primary care providers at clinics where a physician is present only 1 or 2 days per week. In these locations, physician assistants confer with the physician and other healthcare workers as needed and as required by law.

Some physician assistants make house calls or visit nursing homes to treat patients, reporting back to the physician afterward. Some physician assistants supervise medical technicians and medical assistants.

Career Outlook: 
Career Outlook data is specific to New Hampshire State.
Number of Jobs 2010: 
459
Number of Projected Jobs 2020: 
573
Jobs Percentage Change: 
24.8%
Total Annual Openings: 
20
Growth Outlook: 
Very Favorable
June 2013 Entry Level Wage: 
$38.40
June 2013 Mean Wage: 
$49.70
June 2013 Experienced Wage: 
$55.35
Salary Range: 
$80,000+
Education Requirements: 
Programs: 
Time to Complete: 
2+ years (27 months)

Education Levels:

License and Certification Requirements: 
Coding Certification Required: 
Yes
Coding License Required: 
Yes
Certification(s) Required: 
Yes
List of Required Certifications: 
Certified Physician's Assistant
Certification Requirements: 
To be certified you must graduate from a physician assistant program and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
License Required: 
Yes
License Requirements: 
To be licensed you must: complete a statement from the Registered Supervisory Physician and the Alternate Registered Supervisory Physician accepting responsibility; graduate from a Physician Assistant program; be certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA); work under the supervision of a licensed physician, and submit a notarized criminal history record release form along with a complete set of fingerprints taken by a qualified law enforcement agency or authorized employee of the Department of Safety.
Career Categories: 

Types of Work:

Workplace Environment: 
Hospital
Private Medical Practice or Private Company
Types of Interaction: 
Direct Patient Interaction
Integrated Team Member
Support Role