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Physician Assistant

Career data updated last on 9/22/2014
Physician Assistant Physician assistants (PAs) provide health care services under the supervision of and in collaboration with physicians. Their many responsibilities include taking patient histories, performing physician examinations, ordering and interpreting laboratory and imaging studies, formulating diagnoses and implementing treatment plans. A growing and important role is delivering patient education and in health promotion and risk reduction. They also treat minor injuries, by suturing, splinting, and casting. PAs record progress notes, instruct and counsel patients, and order or carry out therapy. In 47 States and the District of Columbia, physician assistants may prescribe medications. PAs also may have managerial duties. Some order medical and laboratory supplies and equipment and may supervise technicians and assistants.
Salary $42.21 hourly- $87,810 annually
Significant Points Employment of PAs is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2012, due to anticipated expansion of the health services industry and an emphasis on cost containment, resulting in increasing utilization of PAs by physicians and healthcare institutions.
Specializations Physician assistants may have special training in a particular medical specialty such as geriatrics, surgery, neonatology, pediatrics or occupational medicine. Many PAs work in primary care specialties, such as general internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine. Others specialty areas include general and thoracic surgery, emergency medicine, orthopedics, and geriatrics. PAs specializing in surgery provide preoperative and postoperative care and may work as first or second assistants during major surgery.
Work Environment Physician assistants work in doctor's offices, clinics, hospitals, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), health departments and the military. Some work in clinics away from the direct supervision of the physician and communicate with the physician by telephone or radio. The workweek of hospital-based PAs may include weekends, nights, or early morning hospital rounds to visit patients. These workers also may be on call. PAs in clinics usually work a 40-hour week.
High School Prep General college preparation is recommended: three courses in math including algebra I, algebra II and geometry, or a higher level math course for which algebra II is a prerequisite; three science courses including one biological science, one physical science and one lab course; four English units and two social studies units, including one in U.S. History; and two years of a second language.
Academic Requirements To become licensed as a physician assistant, an applicant must complete a course of study which has been approved and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Two-year programs generally follow two or three years of undergraduate preparation or a bachelor's degree. Three-year programs are combined with a baccalaureate degree program. Programs cover science courses as well as clinical medicine. The graduate must pass an examination given by the National Commission for Certification of Physician Assistants. Finally, the candidate must apply to the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners for licensure to practice in the state.


Red Rocks Community College
Certificate Degree Certificate
University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus
Masters Degree Master's

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