Often referred to simply as PAs, physician assistants are responsible for providing patients with diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative healthcare services for achieving optimum wellness.
As a team member under the supervision of physicians, surgeons, and other medical doctors, physician assistants are formally educated to examine patients, diagnose the presence of illness or injury, and provide medical treatment.
Daily Duties for Physician Assistants:
- Reviewing patients’ past medical history
- Conducting physical examinations to assess patients’ state of health
- Ordering and examining diagnostic assessments, including blood tests and x-rays
- Forming an accurate diagnosis concerning a patient’s illness or injury
- Providing medical treatment, such as supplying immunizations and setting broken bones
- Educating patients and their families on coping with medical conditions
- Prescribing medications when necessary
- Maintaining detailed health records on patients’ progress
- Staying up-to-date on the latest treatments available for quality patient care
- Participating in public health outreach programs for promoting wellness
Physician Assistant Job Description
What do physician assistants do? In most cases, physician assistants can be found evaluating patients within physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, psychiatric mental health facilities, and clinics. PAs work in all areas of medicine, ranging from primary care and pediatrics to psychiatry and emergency medicine. When physician assistants are employed in rural or medically underserved areas, they may act as the primary care provider and only confer with a physician once a week.
The majority of physician assistants work full-time, but many are required to work longer than the normal 40 hour workweek with irregular night, weekend, or holiday shifts. Since many physician assistants are on call for emergency situations, they must be ready to respond to a work request with little notice. During their workday, PAs work closely with patients, families, physicians, surgeons, registered nurses, and other healthcare workers.
Skills Needed to Be a Physician Assistant
Along with licensure and certification, physician assistants normally must have at least a master’s degree from an accredited educational program with two or more years of full-time graduate studies to gain extensive healthcare experience. Due to their daily duties, it is essential that PAs have comprehensive knowledge in pathology, human anatomy, physiology, biology, pharmacology, clinical medicine, physical diagnosis, and medical ethics.
In order to be successful as a physician assistant, individuals must have strong communication skills to explain complex medical issues for patients to understand, problem-solving skills to evaluate patients’ symptoms, and decision-making skills to provide the right diagnosis for appropriate treatment plans. Furthermore, PAs should be emotionally stable, compassionate, and caring for helping people through stressful situations.