CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 05, 2014
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How to Become a Physician Assistant

A physician assistant also referred to as PA offers quality health maintenance services to patients under the administration of a licensed physician. The physician might supervise the PA by telephone or when both professionals are at the same site. In some instances, physician assistants can offer primary health care services particularly in rural areas where physicians are few. This profession is fit for individuals with a PA personality.

What Do Physician Assistants Do?

Physician assistants are responsible for the performance of various preventive, diagnostic and health care services. They work in various health care sectors such as cardiology, obstetrics and orthopedics. Their services include but are not limited to:

  •          Carrying out physical examinations
  •          Diagnosis establishment
  •          Conducting regular diagnostic tests
  •          Ordering laboratory and X-ray tests
  •          Managing and treating patient ailments
  •          Administering injections and immunizations
  •          Counseling and instructing patients
  •          Conducting minor surgery
  •          Offering preventive health maintenance services
  •          Acting as second or first surgery assistants
  •          Offering ongoing care to patients in hospital, home or extended care facilities

PAs are usually confused with nurses or medical assistants. However, they are more clinically and educationally superior than medical assistants and do not pursue a degree at a nursing school.

Salary

PAs earn a median annual salary of $86,410. Here are the earnings per state:

State

Earnings

Alabama

$92,000

Alaska

$76,000

American Samoa

$97,000

Arizona

$79,000

Arkansas

$89,000

California

$99,000

Colorado

$79,000

Connecticut

$98,000

Delaware

$84,000

   

Florida

$86,000

Georgia

$99,000

Guam

$76,000

Hawaii

$64,000

Idaho

$75,000

Illinois

$95,000

Indiana

$90,000

Lowa

$84,000

Kansas

$82,000

Kentucky

$79,000

Louisiana

$76,000

Massachusetts

$103,000

Michigan

$88,000

Source: salarybystate

Best Paying cities for PAs

Racine, Wisconsin

$145,860

Texarkana, Texas

$143,890

Tyler, Texas

$127,160

Gainsville, Georgia

$127,000

Modesto, California

$123,970

Source: usnews

What Qualifications are Needed?

PAs are supposed to be self motivated and possess the desire to offer help to patients. They should have emotional stability, good bedside manners and be capable of making sound decisions during emergencies. Other important qualities include:

  •  Humbleness
  •  Ability to handle stress well
  •  Detail oriented
  •  Efficient patient education communication skills to engage well with the patients
  •  Caring and compassionate
  •  Problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  •  Ability to work with a team
  •  Enthusiasm for lifelong learning
  •  Ability to arrive at good solutions under pressure
  •  Strength and mobility
  •  Visual integration to take action in various medical situations
  •   Integrity and concern for others

Professional Training

Physician assistants are required to secure a master’s degree from a recognised educational program. This degree is obtained within two years of full-time postgraduate learning. Most applicants usually have a bachelor’s degree and a certain degree of health care work experience. The physician assistant curriculum coursework includes pharmacology, human anatomy, biochemistry, ethics, pathology and physiology. Hands-on training is highly prioritised in this program with increased focus on areas such as pediatrics, gynecology, surgery, geriatrics, family medicine and internal medicine. To work in any state, the PAs are required to be licensed and must pass the certifying exam

PAs can pursue additional specialty education. There various postgraduate educational curriculums in areas such as psychiatry and medicine. Gaining greater clinical experience and knowledge enable them to get higher wages. They can also serve as supervisors to other workers in this field and physician assistant students.

Career Prospects

According to BLS, jobs for PAs are projected to increase 38% from 2012-2022, which is quite a faster rate. This is because there is a rise in demand for PA services owing to the aging and growing population. An increase in populations means more demand for their services. PAs can offer many services offered by doctors and are anticipated to play a larger role in providing regular care since they are more cost effective compared to physicians.

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