Physicians Assistant Programs: What Training is Required?

Physicians assistant programs train students to practice medicine under the supervision of a doctor or surgeon. Breaking into this profession requires an advanced level of training and most PAs working today have earned a master’s degree from an accredited university.

Physician assistants enjoy a competitive salary and great benefits. Job security is at an all-time high for qualified PAs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment will grow by 30 percent through 2020 as demand increases.

What do Physicians Assistant Programs Entail?

The educational structure for PA students is modeled after medical schools, with a combination of classroom instruction and clinical experience. It’s an intense and challenging course of study that typically takes around 27 months to complete.

It takes preparation and academic achievement to gain acceptance into physicians assistant programs. The programs only accept a limited number of students and admission can be highly competitive.

Most schools require students complete two or more years of college in science and behavioral sciences prerequisites, according to the American Academy of Physicians Assistants. However, it is likely schools will also require a background in chemistry, anatomy, microbiology and biology.

Having prior health care experience will also serve students well when it’s time to apply for physicians assistant programs.

facts about physicians assistant programs

How Many Physicians Assistant Programs Are There in the United States?

The AAPA reports there are 159 accredited physician assistant programs in the United States, most of which award master’s degrees. By the time students are done with the program, they will have completed at least 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in clinics, physicians offices, hospitals, and other facilities.

What is the Role of a PA?

While physicians and physicians assistants work closely together, PAs are still responsible to make their own patient care decisions. They are fully capable of examining patients without the supervision of a doctor.

On a daily basis, they perform a number of crucial duties:

  • Review Medical Histories
  • Perform Physical Examinations
  • Interpret X-Rays and Blood tests
  • Prescribe Medications
  • Treat Patients
  • Counsel Patients

Physicians assistants fill a crucial gap in the healthcare world. With increasing demand for physicians, a PA can perform many of the same duties, providing more patients with professional personal care. This helps take the pressure off overworked physicians.

How Much Money Does a PA Make?

Most physicians assistants make more that $86,500 annually and the top ten percent pulled in more than $117,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. PAs working in hospitals can expect to make a little more than those working in private clinics.

Most PAs work full time and those working in hospitals can expect to work varying hours, including nights, weekends and holidays.

Job opportunities are expected to be plentiful for those who complete accredited master’s degree physicians assistant programs. With demand on the rise and a growing patient count, salaries and benefits packages for PAs is expected to rise as hospitals offer high salaries with additional perks to recruit and retain qualified physicians assistants.

With the right educational background and a solid commitment to studying and clinical rotations, a career as a PA can reap outstanding rewards from their physicians assistant programs.

More Reading

Physician Assistant School: Preparing The Right Way
Physician Assistant Programs: A Guide To Choosing the Right One

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