October 27, 2021


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Physician Assistant Job Description, Salary, and Education

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Physician Assistant Job Description

Salary: $73,000 – $101,700Number of Jobs: 74,780
Hourly Rate: $35.12 – $48.89Employment Outlook: Good
Green Job: NoEducation: Master’s degree

What do Physician Assistants do?

Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, and provide medical care to patients under the supervision of a physician or surgeon. They commonly practice in family medicine, psychiatry, emergency medicine, and primary care, but may work in other fields as well.

Even though the positions sound very similar in name, physician assistants are very different from medical assistants. Medical assistants focus on the clerical and administrative tasks that need to be performed in an office or hospital, while physician assistants practice medicine.

The overall responsibilities for a physician assistant depend greatly on their specific area of expertise, the doctor they work for, or the field in which they practice.

Even though the specific responsibilities vary from position to position, many physician assistants have these responsibilities in common:

  • Reviewing patients’ medical histories before procedures or checkups.
  • Making a diagnosis on a patient’s condition, and confirming the diagnosis with a physician.
  • Providing treatments that include bone setting, stitches, vaccinations, and immunizations.
  • Explaining procedures and aftercare requirements to patients and their families.

Work Environment and Schedule

Physician assistants work in many different environments, including physicians’ offices, hospitals, schools, and government facilities. The working schedule varies greatly depending on the location in which they work, so it’s important to determine the type of lifestyle you want to maintain outside of work before deciding on the type of care you’d like to provide.

For instance, physician assistants who work in a doctor’s office or school may be able to work regular business hours, but those who work in hospitals will often be required to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Some physician assistants are also on call at all times, meaning that they can be called into the office at a moment’s notice.

Physician assistants spend most of their time on their feet. Since many work long shifts, it can be a physically demanding occupation.

How to Become a Physician Assistant

A master’s degree is required to become a licensed physical assistant. In order to be accepted into a master’s program, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree and some related work experience. Many people work as paramedics or registered nurses to get the experience they need to be accepted into a graduate program.

All states require that physical assistants are licensed. To become licensed, you will have to pass an exam administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (or NCCPA).

Because healthcare standards change so rapidly, the certification exam must be re-taken every six years to ensure that physician assistants remain up to date with the industry’s best practices.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 74,780 physician assistants in the United States, with 4,280 new physician assistant job openings created each year.

Physician Assistant jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Physician Assistant Salaries

Overall Salaries

Physician Assistant salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most physician assistants make between $73,000 – $101,700 per year, or $35.12 – $48.89 per hour.

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