Physician Assistant Specialties

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Physician Assistant Specialties

Among  physician assistants–about 51%–work in primary care, although many of them work in physician assistant specialties. In a pediatrics or family practice a physician assistant will typically take medical histories, review tests and administer whatever care is instructed by the physician. Rural health clinics also employee physician assistance on a regular basis as a way to make up for a shortage of doctors.

PAs can also find physician assistant employment in hospitals in the emergency room or in surgical departments. They typically work directly with patients, setting fractures, suturing wounds, ordering medical supplies, ordering tests and x-rays and updating patient charts.
Other PAs choose to work in specialty care.
A 2008 census report showed that physician assistants practiced in these areas of specialization:
·     Gen. internal medicine and its sub specialties (15.6%)
·    General surgery and surgical subs specialties (25.1%)
·    Pediatrics and pediatric subspecialties (4.3%)
·    Emergency medicine (10.5%)
·    Occupational medicine (2.3%)
·    Obstetrics and gynecology (2.3%)
·    Dermatology (3.6%)

Salaries by physician assistant specialties

As you might imagine, salaries for physician assistants and in a specialty practice are generally higher than those in a family practice. They also very from a high of $110,468 to a low of $78,956–depending on the exact specialty.
The American Academy of Physician Assistance reported in its 2008 census the mean total incomes (MTI) for clinically practicing PAs working at least 32 hours per week as follows

Specialty    MTI
Cardiovascular/Cardiothoracic surgery     $110,468
Dermatology     $104,474
Emergency medicine     $99,635
Neurosurgery     $98,024
Critical care medicine     $96,984
Radiology     $95,214
Orthopedics     $94,916
Anesthesiology     $93,370
Plastic surgery     $92,633
Occupational medicine     $92,323
Trauma surgery     $91,417
Urology     $90,462
General surgery     $90,094
Pain management     $89,059
Cardiology     $87,812
Hospital medicine     $87,550
Otorhinolaryngology     $86,856
Geriatrics     $85,973
Psychiatry     $85,361
General internal medicine     $85,076
Addiction medicine     $84,627
Oncology     $84,336
Gastroenterology     $84,268
Family medicine     $84,173
Pediatrics     $83,021
Neurology     $81,762
Allergy/Immunology     $81,557
Public health     $81,387
Rheumatology     $81,224
Nephrology     $80,842
Obstetrics/Gynecology     $79,229
Endocrinology     $78,956

Physician assistants working in outpatient care centers had an annual mean wage of $87,060 and those employed in the Federal Executive Branch showed an annual mean wage of $81,180. Finally, PAs working in colleges, universities, and professional schools have an average mean wage of $82,450.

Given the fact that the median annual wage of all physician assistants was $81,230 in May of 2008, you can see that it definitely pays to choose one of the physician assistant specialities. The best paying of these are cardiovascular/cardiothoracic practices, but dermatology and emergency medicine are not far behind.

What it takes to become a Physician Assistant specialist

If you decide you want to become a specialist in some area, you will most likely need to go through a residency program. For example to become an OPA (Orthopedic Physician Assistant) requires classroom didactics, lectures, conferences, academic subjects, clinical applications, journal club meetings, practical exercises, demonstrations, seminars, grand rounds, research and operating room experience. The goals and objectives of the training are to fulfill professional requirements associated with an Orthopedic Surgery Residency.

A physician assistant career can take many directions, make sure you explore many different specialties before you decide which is best for you. Other physician assistant specialties such as emergency medicine, occupational health physician assistant, cardiothoracic surgery perfusion test physician assistant have similar requirements.