Physician Assistants (PAs) are health professionals licensed to practice medicine
under physician supervision. Within the physician/physician assistant relationship,
PAs exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic
and therapeutic services. PAs are trained to perform many of the essential but time-consuming
tasks involved in patient care in order to allow more focused application of the
physician's knowledge and skills. Under the guidance of the physician, PAs take
medical histories, perform physical examinations, order laboratory tests and x-rays,
assist in surgery, apply casts and bandages, make tentative diagnoses, and prescribe
certain treatments and medications. They also treat minor problems such as lacerations,
abrasions, and burns. Some physician assistants provide pre- and post-operative
care to surgery patients. Their duties are quite varied and depend largely on state
laws that regulate their activities. The role of the physician assistant requires
intelligence, good judgment, intellectual honesty, the ability to relate effectively
with people, and the capacity to react in a calm manner in emergency situations.
PA school is a 2-year program. Some PA schools require a Bachelors degree, other
do not. Check the school of interest for specific requirements. To find out about
the common course requirements for most careers in the health professions, please
visit our Prerequisite
For more information about becoming a Physician Assistant, please check out the
following web sites.
Still have questions? Then check out our
FAQ page or email us.