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.