Here’s How to Become a Physician Assistant

It can be extremely hard trying to become a physician assistant, but its still a very rewarding career to get into. The first step that should be taken in deciding to become a PA is asking yourself why you want to be one in the first place. You definitely should do this because you’ve chosen to get into this career when there are plenty more to choose from. You could have chosen to become a nurse, nurse practitioner, medical assistant, and there are many PAs who have already been employed in these careers before they even became a PA.

As a PA, you will find that this career has a lot of autonomy even though you will be working collaboratively with a physician whose supervision you are going to be under. So take a minute and ask yourself “Why on earth do I want to be a PA instead of a registered nurse, a physician or get into another medical career?” If becoming a PA is something you’re certain you want to do then you are going to have to make sure that you meet the requirements that are needed to get admitted into an accredited physician assistant program.

Almost all PA schools, at least the best PA schools, are going to require that you gained some experience working in direct contact with patients. You can get hours working as a orderly in a hospital, working as a emergency medical technician, respiratory therapist, or even as a volunteer for the American Red Cross. To get into these PA schools you will have to at least have a bachelor’s degree and you must a grade “C” or better in subjects like biology, chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, and college math. If you haven’t done these courses or you didn’t get the necessary grade then it would best that you take these classes and get the right grade.

When you decide that you are ready to choose a PA school you will have a lot to choose from. Its going to be your current living situation that will truly be the determining factor in which school you apply to. Factors like your finances, your relationship status, and where you live will all play into determining what physician assistant school is best for you. All these PA schools have deadlines for their applications, and applying early is definitely going to put you in good graces. After you apply and if you make it to the second phase, you will go to an interview at the schools that you applied to you.

Be ready to explain to them why you want to be a PA, and why you’d make a good candidate for admission into their school. PA programs usually last only 2 to 3 years and it is going to be very demanding. Most students aren’t even going to be able to work part-time at a job. The first half of the program will have students doing coursework, and the second half will involve them doing clinical rotations working alongside medical students.

After you are done and have graduate from the PA program, then you will have to take the needed licensing exams so that you can work in your state as a physician assistant. It takes intelligence, determination, fortitude and commitment to become a PA and to work as one. All the best in your journey to have a successful career as a PA.

Here are 10 Schools That Have Great Physician Assistant Programs

Its great that you have decided to become a physician assistant because it really is a phenomenal career to get into. Now that you have made this decision, its time to decide which school you want to attend. Here are 10 schools that have the best PA programs in the country……

University of Iowa – This schools offers PA programs that are very different from other schools because of the fact that its curriculum has been created to allow students to complete more than 60% of their academic studies with the aid of sophomore medical students.

Duke University – This school offers aspiring PA students programs that are split into two sections. The first part of the program deals with academic studies and the second does hands on clinical rotations.

Emory University – There is a 28 month PA program that comes with this school, and it has a great focus on primary health care. Their academic curriculum is splint into 3 different sections which are academic studies, hands on clinical rotations, and advanced academic studies.

George Washington University – There are 2 graduate level programs that are given out of this university. There is the usual and traditional 2 year physician assistant program and there is the 3 year joint program where two students complete the course together. There is also community service that is necessary to finish the program.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas – This university offers aspiring students a PA program that has students take four academic semesters with an added semesters of them doing clinical rotations.

University of Utah – Their PA program is another one that is splint up into 2 phases with the first year being academic coursework and the second year involving hands on clinical rotations.

University of Washington – Both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree is offered to students at this university. Students are going to be working on different projects, they’ll will be doing clinical rotations, and they’re going to be doing academic coursework.

University of Colorado in Denver – Has a specialty program for PA students that focuses on pediatrics, and its curriculum is prepared so that students learn how to provide treatment for kids of all ages.

Baylor College of Medicine – This program is offered to students who have a master’s degree. It will take 30 to 34 months to complete the PA program offered here. Its divided into 2 sections in which the first is academic coursework, and the second is hands on clinical work.

Oregon Health and Science University – The PA program that is offered here lasts for 26 months, with a first section involving coursework and the second working to get hands on experience doing clinical rotations.

These are the top 10 physician assistant programs in the nation! That’s right, and if you still decide not to attend these schools you can still get a great education elsewhere.

Here’s How to Prepare to Fill Out Your CASPA Application

When you get ready to take a seat and fill out your physician assistant CASPA application what you should have in front of you is all the documentation that you need. What you’re going to need in front of you is a copy of your transcript, you’re going to need to know all the dates when you were employed in a medical field, you need to have all the names and addresses of the people that you plan on asking to give you a letter of recommendation, and you need to make sure that you have the contact information for the universities that you attended and you’re going to need a copy of your personal statement narrative.

You always have the option of being able to print out your letters of recommendation and sending it by the mail. Sending your recommendations by mail isn’t encouraged because of the fact they can be lost, so sending your recommendation letters by email is far better. This is better because of the fact that you will be able to track it by email, and you don’t have think that the person who is evaluating your application forgetting to send the letter.

Sending everything electronically is a good idea also because of the fact that you know instantly when your application is complete and has been forwarded to the physician assistant schools you decided to apply to. Its important that you make sure that the people you get to do your recommendations are know that they are going to be contacted by an email the moment that they are finish entering in the information.

The email that comes in may be filtered as spam, so make sure you let them know to check their spam folder just in case they didn’t get it in their main inbox. Its extremely important that you fill out the whole application, and you don’t have to finish it once you start it. You can come back and finish later, but I would recommend that you finish it the first time you start. When you are done with the application print out a copy of it to keep for yourself.

Is Your Physician Assistant Interview Tomorrow? Get Prepared NOW!

So you have been waiting for tomorrow to come, the day that you plan to give an amazing interview so they you gain admission into the physician assistant school of your choice. You’re going to want to really impress them with your intelligence both academically and in conversation, showing them that you’d make an excellent student for their PA program. You should also want to show them that you are someone full of compassion, that you are humble, competent, and that you aren’t arrogant.

What should have been doing prior to the day of is rehearsing your answers to whatever possible questions they may have for you. The most important question out of any that they are most definitely going to ask you is “Why do you want to be a PA?” Whatever other questions they may ask you will most likely be based on your academic qualifications, your experience working in the medical field, whatever experience you may have shadowing a physician assistant, and there could be more questions they ask you.

Personal questions that will ask about what motivates you or what challenges you’ve ever had and how did you get through those challenges. You will be in front of a number of people interviewing you so that there will be a number of different opinions on who should get a spot into the PA program. There’s no way you can anticipate what questions they’re going to ask you, but what you do know is that you can’t stumble at a loss of words. You have to speak with confidence.

These questions that they’re going to ask you are going to be based on what they want to see in a candidate, or they’re going to be based on what they would like to know more about from what they saw on your application. What you should do is make sure you review your application and read over what you think they’ll probably ask. Maybe you have forgotten some of what you put on the application because of the fact that you sent a while ago.

Aside from looking at your application, you should also review transcripts and see what areas of interest they may have regarding that. I hope that you made sure you saved a copy of your personal statement because you need to go over that and see what they may ask about it. Even though you don’t know what they have said about you already you should still think about it. Look over everything you think may come up during your interview, and above all else….relax.

Relax, get some good food in you, and sleep well because tomorrow is a huge day for you. Stay positive knowing that you’ll do great and you should do just that without a doubt.

Here is How to Locate a Physician Assistant for Shadowing

Shadowing a physician assistant is one of the best ways for you to really decide whether or not going to PA school is the right course for you to take. If you are in anyway unsure of whether or not you know enough about this career or if you have a future in it, shadowing a PA will most definitely make it clear to you if its right for you. If you’re uncertain about it, when the interview comes around they will see the uncertainty in you and this could definitely hurt your chances of getting admission into the PA school you’ve chosen.

Almost everyone who is contemplating on starting a career should shadow someone who is already in it. You’ll find a physician assistant working in many different practices. With the information obtained the from bureau of Labor statistics, there were a recorded 74,800 available jobs for PAs in the United States in the year 2008. This is phenomenal because in that year, that number was greater than the number of actual licensed PAs in the country, and it’s a fact that physician assistants work more than one job at the same time.

The growth rate for the next 10 years for this profession is an amazing 39%. PAs are extremely busy on a daily basis, so finding a PA to shadow just might be one of the most challenging things you do and if its possible you should try and find multiple PAs to shadow work in different health care institutions.
As you are shadowing your physician assistant, its important that you remember to wear shoes that are comfortable. Working PAs stand and walk around whole day as they do task to task like clockwork. Do your best to observe and stay out of their way, and ask them where they’d like to observe from so that you aren’t in their way. Remember to dress appropriately, and remember that you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb.

Just wear clothes that don’t set you aside from everyone else because you’re only going to be there to observe. Don’t wear cologne or perfume, and these are banned in most hospitals anyway due to the fact that they could be harmful to patients. Even though asking questions is important, wait until an appropriate time to ask them so that you don’t get in the way of their work. Remember that you aren’t supposed to discuss anything about the patients you saw outside of the practice because there are laws that uphold patient confidentiality. Here are three of the perfect resources to find a physician assistant for you to shadow….

1. Your Own Doctor – When you were in your Doctor’s office, there was probably a PA there and it was probably a PA who examined you. This is a great resource because of the fact that they will already know you on some level. Remember that even though the PA may agree to let you shadow them, you need to make sure you confirm this with the person who runs the office or practice.

2. The Local Hospital – PAs work in hospitals as well and finding you can definitely find one who may let you follow them around for a day. In hospitals, a PA can work in just about every department where a physician is likely to be found. When you go to the hospital, go to the human resources department and confirm that they will let you shadow a working PA. The human resources department should be able to give a lot of information and they may even be able to give you some names of PAs that would be willing to let you shadow them. If they have no names available for you, then you should ask for a staff directory so that you can find a physician assistant and contact them directly to ask.

3. Get in contact with your local PA chapter or organization – There is going to be a local PA association that is going to be extremely valuable for you. They will not only be able to get you in touch with a physician assistant, but they will also be able to give information about different practices and available jobs when you are done with PA school.

It may not be easy to find a PA to shadow, so don’t get discouraged if you are told “no” by a PA. The fact is there job is very fast paced and demanding at times, and they may not want a student following them around. There is bound to be someone who will say “yes.” When you are done shadowing your PA, make sure you thank them in a note because it will definitely be appreciated if you and it makes them remember you later down the road.

Here are the Mistakes Aspiring Physician Assistant Should Avoid With the CASPA

The CASPA (Central Application Service for Physician Assistants) is without doubt a valuable service that is administered through the Physician Assistant Education Associate (PAEA) to make the application process go faster. This organization allows hopeful PA students to fill out one of their applications and send their information on to as many as 139 different accredited PA programs. Its important that you don’t forget to check with the PA schools you’re applying to make sure in detail whether or not these many programs require a additional application aside from the one that will be given to them by the CASPA.

There is a discount of $40 until 12:00am Eastern Daylight Time on the first of September, and this discount fee is only counted toward the number of programs you decide to apply to. Because of this you need to make sure that you apply early so that you can get this discount. When you are getting your packet of applications for the PA schools you decided on, its important that you confirm the application deadlines for each PA school you decided on and for the ones that you are qualified for academically.

These deadlines aren’t going to be flexible and the CASPA is not going to send your information to the school until you complete the application, and all supporting documents are in places with the application fees already paid in full. You should try and get all your information in place at least six weeks prior to the earliest deadline you have. Make sure you finish any supplemental applications you may have before the earliest deadline as well. Its going to take up to two weeks for your application to be mailed to the physician assistant schools you applied to.

You should put everything in place and mail everything you have at least eight weeks prior to the earliest deadline you have so that you are assured that everything arrives on time. To protect yourself and information, you should make sure that the CASPA gives you a return receipt as confirmation that everything arrived on time. This is because information could get lost while its being mailed, and sending it in eight weeks prior gives you enough time to resend everything. When you are getting references, make sure they you tell them about the deadlines and give an envelope that is already stamped and pre-addressed.

The first thing you need to do is set up an account with the CASPA portal, and then once the account is created you’ll be able to monitor the status of your sent applications. You need to request that your official transcripts be forward to CASPA from all colleges and universities that you have already attended, and you need to request that an official copy of your transcripts for yourself so that you will be able to use them as a reference when completing your application. Your application will have to be submitted electronically. Every application fee is going to need to be paid in full to the CASPA and if you decide to send a check by mail, then you need to wait at least 7 to 10 days for it to arrive.

You will also need to have 2 to 3 completed references to arrive to the CASPA. After the CASPA filters your physician assistant school applications they will then be sent to those schools. Make sure that your applications reflect your academic achievements and your clinical work experience. The most important thing however is to make sure that your personal statement is good because what is really going to show the committee that you are a good candidate for their PA school. Your personal statement is what makes you more than just grades, qualifications and credits. This is the part of each application that is going to be the deciding factor.

These men and women will be receiving hundreds of applications reading hundreds of narratives from different people. So don’t be surprised if you write a poor first paragraph and get declined admission. You got what it takes to be a physician assistant, so good luck. To start submitting your applications, here is the link to the CASPA…

5 Areas that Your Letter of Recommendation Has to Address

Without a doubt, the most important aspect of your physician assistant school application is the 3 letters of recommendation you need to have. The minimum is only 3 letters. These recommendation letters absolutely have to be from people, and the committee would prefer that these people writing your letter of recommendation be medical workers who have already worked with you as worked directly with patients. Should you choose to get one of your undergraduate school professors to write the letter it will be acceptable, but have no more than one professor write a letter.

What you should really do is get in contact with the PA school programs you’ve chosen to apply to and see what they consider acceptable references for your letter of recommendation. These people that you get to write your letters should people who are respected and admired in their own field. They should know your intentions for having them write a letter, your qualifications, you want people who have a high and favorable opinion of you, people who know your background and people who want you to be successful in PA school. People you ask to write your letter of recommendation may even feel honored that you even asked them in the first place.

It shows them that you respect them and their opinion which will make them delighted to write a letter for your physician assistant application. If get any feeling of hesitation from them and how they feel about you then reconsider having them write your letter because the fact of the matter is that these letters are a big part on the committee making a decision on who gets to the next stage which is the interview. I’m going to assume that you are applying using CASPA, and if you are then you can get the people you are having write your letter to send it electronically.

This is a great option because you will be able to oversee everything they are doing, and you’ll be able to know when they have finished writing the recommendation and when they have sent it. When they are doing it by email, make sure you tell your evaluator to check their spam folder in case they say that they couldn’t find the confirmation that they sent the letter. You can also use the paper option of mailing the forms that they need to fill out to them.

The recommendation form is in two parts and the first part of the form will have them fill out their opinions on your maturity level, the passion you have to be a physician assistant, your work ethic, your strengths and weaknesses, and your teamwork skills. The second part of the form is going to have them write a short essay about those details about you in greater detail. You have got to make sure that you tell your evaluator that you are applying to different PA programs so that they don’t address the letter to a specific person. You want them to start the letter off with “To whom it may concern” instead of “Dear Dr. Whitman.” In the end, make sure you choose who you want to write your letter of recommendation wisely.

Choose the people who you have worked alongside for a long time, and people who have seen you work at your very best and know you on a personal level. Try to get a physician assistant to write a letter of recommendation for you but still, someone who knows personally is better than someone who doesn’t.

How to Handle Your Physician Assistant Interview

You deserve a pat on the back for making it to your physician assistant interview. You have made it to the interview stage of one of the PA schools you applied to. This is definitely the most important stage of the application process, and you have strived and worked hard to get to this stage, so congratulations! At this stage of the application process, they are going to be using much harder criteria to base on who gets a spot into their PA program.

The committee decides who gets the spot, and they are going to narrow their choices down to two or three applicants for each available slot for the next school year. What you want to do is make their choice nice and easy, showing them that not only are you able to do the necessary work, but that you also have a clear plan and path to contribute successfully in the medical community. Now all you have to do is show them that you are the best choice in handling a serious situation. Preparation is the most important part of anything we plan on doing in life.

Before you do your interview, keep in mind that you’re going to need a good night’s sleep, eat a good and hearty breakfast, and try to come up with questions you think they’re probably going to ask you.
Rehearse your answers to the possible questions you come up with so that you aren’t stumbling at a loss for words during the interview. Here are some questions that you should be asking yourself before you do the interview…..
  • What is the Reason Behind You Wanting to Become a Physician Assistant?
  • There are Many Candidates Applying, So Why Would You Be the Most Qualified Applicant for the Spot?
  • Is There Any Examples of You Using Your Leadership Skills, Teamwork Skills, and Your Ability to Work in a Very Serious and High Pressure Situation?
  • What Do You Want to Be Doing in the Next Ten Years?
  • How Would You Handle a Patient Who Was Being Uncooperative With Your Approach to Their Health Care?
  • If You Had a Disagreement With Your Supervising Physician About a Patient’s Plan of Treatment, How Would You Handle It?
  • How do You Feel About Working Long Hours and Being On Call at Odd Hours?
  • What Specialties Do You Want to Take Part in and Which Don’t You Want to Take Part In?
These are just some of the likely questions in the physician assistant interview, but you can never be sure. Just keep your stature and be honest. The fact of the matter is that as people, we tend to assess each other based on first impressions and appearances. Even though this is true, this is not the time to express your personality too much. They want applicant who is serious and someone who can handle high pressure situations that come with working in hospitals and other health care institutions. They also have in mind upholding their own reputation of choosing the best applicants for the position who have the most likely shot at succeeding. So dress conservative in clean business-like clothing.

Men should wear a suit with a tie, and women should wear closed-toed shoes with comfortable heels. Female candidates should wear a skirt that reaches their knees, if you choose to wear a suit with pants that is perfectly fine. Applicants should dress in a way that conveys to the committee who they believe themselves to be. If you have any tattoos and piercings it would be best to put them out of display. This may sound like I’m making a big deal out of this but the fact of the matter is that sometimes tattoos and piercings are seen as a negative expression, so don’t let them see it. Your body language is going to be just as important as well because it shows them how you carry yourself.

Show them confidence by standing up straight and sitting up straight. Introduce yourself when you walk into the interview and shake their hand firmly, and above all else….smile. Be mindful of how you speak in this physician assistant interview. Answer the questions clearly without rambling on with answers for the question. Make your answer clear and to the point.

The interview may only last for an hour at the most and the panel will have many questions to ask you in this time. Show them that you are a future health care professional. Believe that you are the best applicant, and remember that if they weren’t interested in you that you wouldn’t even be at this stage of the application process. So relax because you got what it takes.

Here is Why Your Physician Assistant Personal Statement Has to Be Different From the Rest

If you’re looking to get into a physician assistant program, you’re going to need a great personal statement. Even though you have done outstanding academically and you have gotten your admission application past the first stage, without a doubt its going to be your personal statement or your narrative that will get you to the interview stage of the admission process. This definitely the most important part of getting accepted into the PA program, and don’t forget that there can be up to 100 aspiring men and women trying to get a spot into the PA program.

So let’s talk about how to put your personal statement in the best light in the eyes of the selection committee. Your personal statement is the one thing that is going to help you tell the selection committee more about yourself as a person and as a person who communicates effectively. It’s very similar to writing a college essay. The CASPA will only allow you to finish your narrative within 5000 characters which includes all the spacing and formatting you are going to be doing. This sounds great doesn’t it?

You’ll have a lot of time to make a clear and defining statement about who you are, your accomplishments, and the burning passion you have inside you to become a physician assistant working on a medical team. This does sound great, but 5000 characters is only a little over 600 words so you’re going to have to write it right. You’re seriously going to need to make every word count because these people reading your narrative will be reading at least 100 others. There are no exceptions, if you exceed the character limit then your essay will simply stop there at the limit and they will not acknowledge anything you have written beyond that.

The best thing for you to do would be to write your personal statement in Word Pad because it counts how many characters you have type instead of how many words like Microsoft Word, and the program that they will be using to review your essay will be similar to Word Pad for this reason. Now writing in Microsoft Word is okay to do but when you’re done writing it make sure that you save it as a .txt so that you can open it up in Word Pad and see if you have met or excelled the character limit. When working on a medical team, having good written communication skills is absolutely important. So this is the opportunity you have to convey that you have great writing skills, and then you can show them that you have good oral communication skill when you get to the interview.

Really good writing isn’t based on how  you format the article, it’s based on using your excellent vocabulary and being able to write a document that is clear, concise and free of grammar errors. Its important that you keep in mind that the people reviewing your narrative are talented writers themselves and they are the ones you want to impress, this should go without saying but avoid using slang, colloquialisms, and those common texting abbreviations. Abbreviations are used when writing in a patient’s chart but most definitely aren’t suitable for your personal statement.

Try and write multiple drafts instead of just doing one, make sure you revise each draft correcting any issues you find. Anything can happen when they are reading your personal statement, if they don’t like the first paragraph they’ll just decide not to read it the whole essay and that would be the end of the road for you. Start with your thesis statement followed by a minimum of 3 paragraphs, and then close with a strong final paragraph. Get into who you are as an individual instead of just writing about all your academic qualifications. You should definitely mention your academics but remember that you don’t need to focus on them because you wouldn’t be writing this personal statement if your academics weren’t already accepted. Base your personal statement on questions like…
  • Why have you chosen this career?
  • What is motivating you to believe that this is the right career path for you?
  • What did you learn while you were working in the medical field as you observed other physician assistants?
  • What can you contribute to the medical community?
Just keep in mind that know matter a candidates academics, a great narrative can get you that interview. Stay focused as you write, read it aloud when you’re done, think about those who are going to be reading your personal statement, and be honest in your journey to become a physician assistant.

Here Are Some Tips to Increase Your Salary as a Physician Assistant

Being a physician assistant is great and the salary is definitely something that attracts us to want to continue being in this profession. When it comes to any career, the salary is most often one of the key factors that come into making the decision on whether or not to pursue a chosen career. Having a career that has a high paying salary is something that is expected for those who get their degrees after spending such a long time in school. Someone who is highly paid in their profession has a sense of security which is something that not a lot of people have. 

The health care profession of PA is one of the fastest growing jobs today in 2011, and it is expected that the number of people who take on this profession in the next 20 years will increase by 28% in the United States alone. Advancements in technology and medicine have create more opportunities for PAs in the health care field, and all this is great. 

Yes its great but for the person who has been a PA for a while now, what can they do to increase their salary as a working PA? Some of the ideas that you can do to increase your salary as a PA are.....

  • Have good negotiation skills, this should come naturally to you anyway because of the work experience you have gained. Based on basically the amount of years you've worked as a PA, your pay should increase significantly. Especially if you've been working as a PA for over 10 years.
  • If you are a PA who has a specialty and bring different skills or improvements to the health care team then this could bring you a increase in pay. When comparing this to a generalist health care provider, there will be a higher demand for someone who has a specialty in a particular field of medicine when a generalist is some who isn't a specialist in any particular field. Generalists basically go to PA school and take the course, but they don't enter into a specialty program.
  • Another factor that could increase your salary as a physician assistant would be whether or not you practiced independently. Self employed PAs will have the highest grossing salaries among other PAs who choose to have a employer. PAs who work in hospitals will have a higher salary than those who have a private practice. The salary range for PAs who work in hospitals can be from $70,000 to $88,000 and those with a private practice can earn anywhere between $60,000 to $80,000. It is predicted that in the year 2015 that the starting salaries for PAs will most likely be at $65,000 no matter what their status of employment is.
  • The type of specialty certification you have can greatly increase your salary as a PA because the more specialized the certification, the more valuable the person is in an employer's eyes.
  • Your salary could be greater based on the size of the company that you work for. If you work for a company that has more than 50,000 employees then you can expect that company to pay you anywhere from $70,000 to $95,000 a year which is great.
  • A PA's salary could be determined based on how reputable the school they graduate from is. The University of Nebraska has one of the best PA programs in the country and graduate from there usually earn a starting salary ranging from $70,000 to $93,000. The University of Washington, the University of Florida, and Duke University are all schools that could help you earn a good starting salary even before you start working as a PA.
The salary is a great perk to being a physician assistant, but the real reward is the experiences that come with this career.

Differences Between a Physician Assistant and a Nurse Practitioner

There are many differences between a physician assistant and a nurse practitioner even though both of these professions are allowed to provide patient health care without a physician present. The difference is in their education, and PAs have a higher paying salary than nurse practitioners. A PA is licensed as a health care provider whether they work under a physician or work independently, and they are able to provide almost all of the same health care services that are usually done by a physician. Unlike a RN, a practitioner has achieved a master’s degree and furthered their education so that they can upgrade from RN to practitioner.

Each and every state has its own laws concerning what health care services NPs can perform, and there are states where NPs can have a private practice working independently of a physician. A PA has to take an accredited program before they can take their national board certification exam. They have to attend a program that has been accredited by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, and there are many accredited physician assistant programs in the U.S.

They need to have a bachelor’s degree, although there are some colleges that will accept applicants who have a associate’s degree into the PA program. These programs will usually last up to 2 years with the first year being coursework, and the second dealing with hands on clinical rotations. When they graduate from their accredited PA program, they will have to take the national certification exam. Only those who graduate from a PA program can take the exam.

RNs who are applying to further their education and become a practitioner need to have a bachelor or science in nursing degree to get into a NP program, and they have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam. A PA will normally be a generalist where they do basic health care services, whereas a NP will either be a generalist or a specialist. Each state has different exams for aspiring graduates in specialty programs and these exams have to be passed before they can become a NP and perform specific tasks. A PA can get into different specialties if they choose without having to go through a program because their education has provided them with what they need to perform as a specialist. There are residency programs that PAs can attend if they are entering a specialized field. Some specialties are oncology, orthopedics, obstetrics, or the emergency room. A specialty residency program generally lasts 2 years.

A physician is the person that a PA reports to. PAs can often be found in undeserved areas as the primary care providers because of the shortage of physician. If there aren’t many doctors around, then a PA will need to have a medical doctor sign their charts weekly. There are restrictions in some states for PAs where they can’t prescribe medications or have a private practice. The main difference between a NP and a physician assistant is the length of their education, and the tasks they can perform. Both of these careers are great.

Physician Assistant? Who are They and What Do They Do?

A physician assistant is a health care worker that works collaboratively with physicians and they are supervised by physicians and surgeons. Its very common that people confuse PAs with medical assistants who are the ones who perform routine clinic and cleric tasks. PAs are trained to be able to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health care services to patients as they are being supervised by a physician.

As PAs work on a health care team, they perform tasks such as taking and filing a patient’s medical history, they give patient examinations and determine the right course of treatment with the physician’s approval and supervision, PAs are able to order and interpret the results of laboratory tests and x-rays, and they can diagnose a patients condition. Even though PAs can do all this, they still have to be supervised by a physician. Assistants are able to do sutures for serious cuts, they do splints, and give patients casts.

PAs also work in offices where they record and file patient progress notes, instruct and counsel patients, and they order therapy for patients who need to be rehabilitated. The duties and responsibilities of a physician assistant are determined only by physicians and the law of the state they are practicing in. Students who are training to become PAs should definitely check their state laws so that they know the limitations they’re going to have while practicing in their current state. In the United States PAs are required to complete a PA program that is accredited and they have to pass the national board certification exam that is administered by the AAPA so that they can get their state license. These PA programs usually last for 2 years and they are full time with the first year involving students doing coursework and the second will have them doing clinical rotations.

These PA programs can most commonly be found in allied health centers, late-night academic health institutions, medical schools, and they are at 4 year colleges. There are even community colleges, military institutions, and hospitals that have classes for PAs. There are more than 140 PA college programs that have been accredited by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), so there are plenty of programs that you can choose from. More than 90 of these PA programs require applicants to have a master’s degree while rest require a bachelors or associates degree, but most applicants already have a bachelors degree.

According to the United States Department of Labor "The medical career of physician assistant held about 62,000 jobs in 2004. The number of jobs is greater than the number of practicing PAs because some hold two or more jobs. For example, some work with a supervising physician, but also work in another practice, clinic, or hospital. PAs are doing a lot and according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, about 15 percent of actively practicing PAs worked in more than one clinical job concurrently in 2004." More than half of jobs were in the offices of medical doctors. About a quarter were in hospitals, public or private healthcare institutions. The rest were mostly in outpatient care centers, including health maintenance organizations; the Federal Government; and public or private colleges, universities, and professional schools. A few were self-employed." This is a phenomenal career that is going to always be high in demand.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Physician Assistant

Nowadays in the health care industry, the third fastest growing career in the world is that of the physician assistant. By the year 2016, the demand for this job is expected to increase by 40% because it has also been predicted that there will be a serious shortage of physicians in the year 2016. With these predictions, anyone who decides to take on this profession will without a doubt have a bright and secure future. Even though this is a great career to get into, it still has its ups and downs. Lets first get into the pros and advantages of being a PA.

The Advantages
  • Because of the fact that this is the third fastest growing career in the world right now, the salary and bonuses that come with this job are phenomenal. The average salary range for a PA is $60,000 to $110,000, and there are PAs who make over $120,000. The salary of almost every career in the health care industry is based on a number of factors. Factors like the disciplinary/malpractice history, work experience as a PA, and academic background. No matter what, the salary for a physician assistant will be high because of what this job brings to society concerning health care.
  • The tasks and duties that PAs perform on a daily basis are very challenging and at the same time they are rewarding. Day after day there are new things to learn and obstacles to get through. You’ll get a sense of fulfillment helping others who are suffering and completing tasks using the education and training you worked hard to master and achieve.
  • As a PA, its going to be very easy to move from different health care departments. You’ll have the option of transferring from one department to another such as pediatrics, neonatal, emergency or ICU. A decade ago, there were a lot of limitations for what a PA was allowed to do, but here in 2011 its seems endless with the shortage of physicians around.
  • This medical profession is highly respected and valued by health care workers like physicians and surgeons because it takes so much stress off their shoulders. PAs can do pretty much do all the tasks that were traditionally meant for the physician.

The Disadvantages
  • A physician assistant will always be supervised a surgeon or a physician. It doesn’t matter how much work experience the PA has, their academic background or their skills. They will always be supervised. Its because of this that when it concerns patient care, the PA has to always work collaboratively with a physician to determine the right treatment.
  • Even though PAs are doing most of the tasks that were usually done by physicians, their pay will still be lower in comparison to a physicians’.
  • Every 6 years a PA is mandated to take a re-certification exam to keep their certification. So even though they are already a working PA, they still have to do Continuing Medical Education (CME) up until they decide to quit their job or retire from it.
  • PAs are always doing a lot during the day. It can get very hectic to say the least. They have a ton of tasks that they have to do such as clinical and administrative. They work in the office and they handle patients. In the office they’ll either be updating patient records based on patient appointments or they’ll be helping the physician with whatever office tasks they need done.

Being a physician assistant great and its filled with tons of experiences. You’re going to see a lot of new things, do a lot of different things, and you’ll most definitely learn things about yourself as a person. Working with people does this too you so get ready for a exciting career if this is the one for you.

The Tasks and Schedules that Physician Assistants Deal With

As you may already know because of the title of the job, a physician assistant is someone who helps the physician. They are able to assist the physician because of the fact that they can perform tasks that were usually only performed by the physician themselves. They make work less stressful and time consuming for the physician because they do almost all direct patient care. The PA will do patient injections, they will perform examinations and issue out patient treatment, they’ll do tasks such as measuring the patient’s blood pressure, they’ll talk to patients about maintaining their health after being discharged, they are able to issue out rehabilitation therapy for patients, and they can order and interpret laboratory tests. All these tasks are the most common that are performed by PAs, but the scope of practice for a PA varies based on that person’s training, their experience, the state laws and rules, and it could vary because of what the supervising physician allows in their practice.

If the physician is a surgeon, then the tasks of the physician assistant could be to carry out the tasks during surgery that were once meant for the physician/surgeon to perform themselves. So if the supervising physician is a surgeon, then the PA will most definitely need to well educated in performing surgical procedures, surgical techniques, and the equipment and medication that is used during surgeries.

All the states in the U.S. allow PAs to write out patient prescriptions, but there are only 39 states that allow experienced assistants to write and prescribe medications for patients without having to consult their supervising physician. This is a huge reason why the workload for physicians is becoming lighter and lighter, and the plus side for PAs is that they get more autonomy to practice medicine in different health care institutions.

An example for how the tasks and services a PA can perform depending on their location is that in rural areas and inner cities the physician assistant is the main health care provider for patients because there is such a shortage of physicians. There’s a shortage of physicians because of the fact that most of them are always in hospitals or clinics, and they’ll only be available 2 or 4 days out of the week.
The Schedule that a PA has can sometimes be pretty hectic and random. It all really depends on their supervising physician’s practice and the location they’re in. Some places don’t have people coming through the emergency room doors like clockwork and some places do. A PA who works in a hospital will have to be on call no matter the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday, a weekend, your day off, or the middle of the night. A physician assistant has to be ready at all times. PAs who work in clinics don’t have to deal with this hectic schedule, but what is mandatory for any PA is that they have to put in a minimum of 40 hours a week.

PAs can work in many different medical institutions. Hospitals, clinics, outpatient offices, critical care units, surgery rooms. Where you find a physician, you should find their assistant working with them.
The medical profession of physician assistant will always be high in demand, and it is a extremely vital asset to the health care industry. Physicians most definitely appreciate them. This career is rewarding and fulfilling, and its going to open you up to many new experiences.