What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?
Physician Assistants (PAs) are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine under physician supervision. PAs are employed by doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals, and other health care agencies. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, assist in surgical procedures, counsel on preventive health care issues, and write prescriptions. Although PAs work under the direction of a licensed physician, they are given the autonomy to diagnose and treat patients based on their education and training.
In addition to natural sciences, many PA programs require courses in humanities, human development, social sciences, statistics, and medical terminology. To be a competitive applicant, it is advised that students check with several PA schools early on for an understanding of pre-requisite courses.
PA programs are typically 24-29 month master’s programs which culminate in awarding a Master of Science (M.S.) in Physician Assistant Studies. This degree is recognized through the U.S. and in certain international locations. Graduates of an accredited PA program are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.