If you’re looking for a career that has a future as bright as a 1000 candlepower searchlight, look no further than being a physician assistant. The Physician Assistant career field should literally explode as the Affordable Care Act is implemented over the next few years.
What is a physician assistant?
A physician assistant is a medical professional. He or she works in conjunction with a doctor taking medical histories, performing procedures and evaluations, diagnosing illnesses, ordering treatments, prescribing medication, interpreting diagnostic tests and evaluating patients for referral to specialists as required. In addition, a physician assistant typically orders and interprets laboratory tests and x-rays and may treat minor injuries by splinting, casting and suturing.
(PA) Physician Assistant Career Outlook
The physician assistant career field began in the middle of the1960′s due to a shortage that existed at the time. There was also a problem with the geographic distribution of family practice physicians here in the US. Today, PAs work largely in primary care but also in certain specialties in both urban and rural areas. A PA can practice any surgical specialty or medical field and can move freely between surgical and medical fields.
Physician assistants work under the supervision of a physician. However, they have their own medical licenses and do not work under the license of a physician. Depending on their position a PA might need to prescribe medications which requires a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) license seperate from their supervising physician.
The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the forecast for physician assistant job openings should increase 27% from 2006 to 2016–or much faster than the average for all occupations. This is due to a couple of factors, including an expanding healthcare industry, concerns for cost containment, newly-implemented restrictions that shorten doctors’ work hours and the aging population of baby-boomer generation .
How PAs work
In some states, a PA must have a formally registered relationship with a licensed physician as their supervisor. This supervising physician must also be licensed in the same state as where the PA is working, although he or she may be located elsewhere physically. Supervision by the collaborative physician can be by telecommunication systems or by other means. In other words, supervision by the collaborative physician doesn’t necessarily have to be on-site as many Physician assistants practice alone in underserved or remote areas in satellite clinics.
How much physician assistants earn?
According to Money Magazine the Physician assistant career profession is the fifth best paying job in America–as of May 2006. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the mean total income for PAs working at least 32 hours per week was $89,967 and PAs working in dermatology, emergency medicine and surgical subspecialties were earning $100,000-$200,000 per year.
What it takes to become a physician assistant
If you want to become a physician assistant, you will need to complete an educational training program, take an examination and obtain a license. To qualify for a training program, most applicants will have a college degree or some health-related work experience. Physician Assistant career education programs usually take two years to complete for full-time students. You will find PA educational programs mostly at schools that are allied with healthcare facilities, medical schools, four-year colleges and academic health centers. A few are actually part of the military or at community colleges.
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant has accredited, or provisionally accredited. 142 education programs for physician assistants. 113 or 80% of these programs offer the option of a Masters degree, 21 offered a bachelors degree, three awarded associate degrees and five awarded a certificate.
When you complete the training program, the next step to becoming a Physician assistant will be to take what is called the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). This is a multiple-choice test that is comprised of questions that assess an applicant’s basic medical and surgical knowledge. To be eligible to take this test, you must have graduated from an accredited program.
When you have successfully passed the PANCE test, you can apply for a license in your state.
Being a PA can be rewarding–both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. So, if you have the right educational background, the time required to spend two years studying, and the ability to pass the licensing test, finally after this a great physician assistant career will be waiting for you.