College of Arts and Sciences, USF

Physician's Assistant

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 courses page.

For more information about becoming a Physician Assistant, please check out the following web sites.

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