Physician’s Assistant

“Physician Assistants can practice and prescribe medicine in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (regulations vary by state) under the license of a physician, can work in a variety of health care settings, and although PAs are trained as generalists in medicine, they can also work in specialty areas, such as orthopedics, emergency medicine, or cardiology for example.

PAs are formally trained to provide the following healthcare services, as designated by a licensed physician: Diagnose illness and disease, examine and treat patients, instruct and counsel patients, order or carry out therapies, order and interpret lab tests and X-rays, prescribe medications, record progress notes, take medical histories, treat injuries by suturing, splinting, and casting. PAs can also have managerial duties, order medical and lab supplies and equipment, or may supervise technicians and assistants. While PAs practice under the license of a physician, they may also be the principal care providers in many practices, where a physician may be present for only 1 or 2 days each week. In such cases, the PA confers with the supervising physician and other medical professionals as needed, or as required by law. PAs may also make house calls or go to hospitals and nursing homes to check on patients and report back to the physician.” (source: Explore Health Careers)


Learning More About Physician’s Assistant Careers:

To learn more about becoming a PA, visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants homepage, PA Focus, and the Physician Assistant Educational Association.


Academic Requirements and Prerequisites: 

Unlike medical schools, there isn’t a common core of classes that should be taken as prerequisites for PA Programs. Programs typically require coursework such as Biology, Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Statistics, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Microbiology. Programs also typically require patient contact hours in a health care setting. Some programs may require that you take an entrance exam such as the GRE. When considering PA Programs it is a good idea to put together a spreadsheet of schools of interest with columns for required prerequisite classes, minimum number of patient contact hours, and GPA requirements. Then, meet with your major advisor to figure out where you will fit these classes into your program.