A physician assistant program can offer you the opportunity to pursuing your goals and earning a comfortable salary if attending medical school is not an option but you enjoy the idea of working in a medical setting. If becoming a doctor or physician is not a practical option for you, for example time or money, you can consider becoming a physician’s assistant. Becoming a physician assistant offers you the opportunity to pursue the same professional goals and still earn a good income. Physician assistants are specialized professionals who are trained to help provide patient care under the supervision of a licensed doctor. The physician’s assistant career is especially important in providing support to doctors while helping to keep medical costs low in these times of high cost health care. A PA is a certified mid-level medical provider who works under the supervision of a licensed physician (an MD) or osteopathic physician (a DO.) They must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and complete a PA training program that is accredited by the national commission of Physician Assistants.
Physician Assistant Education and Training
Most students complete a 2-year master’s PA program. During the first year of the physician assistant master degree program, you would take physician assistant course requirements that include:
- Disease prevention
- Clinical Rotations (Practicum)
In the second year, you get clinical experience in primary care medicine, inpatient medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, geriatrics and gerontology, emergency medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics. Over 50% of physician assistants work in primary care medicine. 20% work in surgery or other surgical sub-specialties. You can work in private practice offices or clinics, hospitals, public health clinics, schools, prisons, and home health care agencies among other areas.
Most physician assistant schools offer master’s degrees, although there are a few that offer undergraduate degrees. In both cases, you would be required to pass an physician assistant exam which is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants before you are licensed to practice.
Physician Assistant Careers
A PA works in preventing, maintaining, and treating illness and injury by providing a health care services that are traditionally performed by a physician. One of the main responsibilities is to examine patients and record their medical histories. They assist with x-rays and laboratory tests, as well as counseling and instructing patients. Physician assistants learn highly specialized, non-invasive skills to help them interact with their patients. As a physician assistant, you’ll perform many of the same functions as a doctor, except the complex cases. Typical duties include:
- Taking medical histories
- Examining and treating patients
- Ordering and analyzing lab tests and x-rays
- Prescribing medication
- Treating minor injuries
- Managerial duties, supervising various medical staff and ordering supplies
Estimated Income and Projected Career Outlook
Many physician assistant programs can qualify you for a full-time job after two years of study. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the medical assisting field to continue to grow rapidly over the next decade because physicians require a support structure to work with large numbers of patients.
The American Academy of Physician Assistants reports that for those who graduate from an accredited physician assistant program, a most first-year physician assistant professionals earn a salary over $60,000 making this a lucrative and rewarding job opportunity.
The median annual wage of physician assistants was $86,410 in 2010 (BLS) with expected employment of physician assistants expected to increase 30% from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Physician Assistant Programs
At Kaplan University, we offer over 180 degree and certificate programs. With three different ways to learn, you can choose the format that works best for you:
- Study wherever you have an Internet connection, because almost all of our courses are 100% online, or
- Take campus-based classes(with day and evening options available), or
- Combine campus learning with online classes (blended).
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The goal of Virginia College lies in its responsibility to its students, the technical and business communities, and the general citizenry. We have a long history of offering new direction to students.
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* Programs vary by location
* Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information
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