Summary: A Career As A Physician Assistant

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What is a Physician Assistant? As a relatively new field of practice, this answer is often asked. Physician Assistants are also known as PAs. They practice medicine on a team all under the supervision of a doctor. The name is largely a misnomer as physician assistants are much more than mere “assistants”. They are educated to diagnose injuries and illnesses, provide treatment and examine patients. Typical responsibilities of a physician assistant include: reviewing patients’ medical histories, conducting physician exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, give treatment, evaluate and counsel patients, and prescribe medicines (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor). PA’s work in all areas of medicine including primary care,…show more content…
Applicants must have a Bachelors degree from an accredited 4-year university. At most schools paid hands on healthcare experience is required, usually around 2000 hours. This healthcare experience can come in fields such as CNA (certified nurses assistant), EMT (emergency medical technician), EKG technicians, registered nurses, phlebotomists, physical therapist, respiratory therapist, and ER technicians. Many schools recommend shadowing at least one physician assistant and to have a decent number of volunteer hours. An average of three recommendation letters usually from healthcare professionals you have worked with and especially from at least one physician assistant. In addition to these requirements is the Graduate Record Exam. PA programs require the same prerequisite courses as medical students. This includes introductory biology and chemistry, microbiology, cell biology, genetics, anatomy and physiology, organic chemistry, and calculus. Competitive GPAs are around a 3.5. Most PA programs are 26 months, roughly 3 years and once in the school they obtain 2000 hours of clinical rotations in internal and family medicine, obstetrics, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine and psychiatry. Upon graduation in order to practice they need to pass the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission of Certification of PAs. Upon passing they will get licensed by the state they wish to practice.…show more content…
The physician assistant profession was created to improve and expand healthcare based on demands in the mid 1960’s when physicians realized there was a shortage of primary care physicians. Happening concurrently was an influx of men returning from Vietnam War who were well trained and experienced in addressing medical emergencies such as traumas. To help this Eugene Stead Jr, MD, of the Duke University Medical Center, put together the first class in 1965. He selected four Navy Hospital Corpsmen who had extensive medical training while abroad at war. Stead based his teachings on his knowledge of the fast paced training of doctors serving in World War II. The American Academy of Physician Assistants was officially established and incorporated in the North Carolina in 1968. The first members where made up of mostly military corpsmen
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