Physician Assistant

Physician assistants perform medical exams and may assume many responsibilities as assigned by physicians. They
order laboratory tests, initiate treatment or therapy and counsel patients under the direction of a physician. Physician assistants may work alone or directly with a supervising physician. Their job responsibilities depend, in part, on the laws of the state in which they practice.
Physician assistants:
• take detailed medical histories and
perform physical examinations.
• order laboratory tests, X-rays, EKGs
and other diagnostic studies.
• diagnose patients and decide
treatment plans.
• prescribe medications.
• initiate therapy or treatment.
• suture wounds, assist in surgery, apply
and remove casts and perform other therapeutic procedures.
• make hospital rounds to observe and record patients’ progress and order or carry
out indicated therapy.
• provide continuous medical care to patients at home, in nursing homes or other
extended health care facilities.
• coordinate and supervise other health care professionals.
• counsel patients and their families on preventive care, medical problems and
prescribed treatments and drugs.
Physician assistants may have specialized training in geriatrics, surgery, neonatology,
pediatrics, emergency medicine or occupational medicine. They work under the supervision and direction of a licensed physician. Some work in satellite offices away from
direct supervision and communicate by telephone or radio. They may work alone or
with nursing staffs.

Average Salary Range
$46,000 – $69,000
Educational Requirements
Students wishing to pursue a physician assistant career should take the most challenging high school courses available in science, math and English, including advanced placement courses. Licensed physician assistants must complete approved and accredited courses of study. Applicants also must pass examinations given by the National Commission for Certification of Physician Assistants. To enter a program for physician assistants, students often are required to have completed one or more years of direct patient care. The curriculum includes courses in the basic medical sciences, along with clinical clerkships.

Professional Associations

American Academy
of Physician Assistants
950 N. Washington St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 836-2272
www.aapa.org