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Physician Assistant Specialties

Students who are looking to become physician assistants have to pay extra mind to the concept of physician assistant specialties. Basically, these specialties are the clinical disciplines in which they will have to practice if they make it through the multi-step process of applying to a physician assistant program, graduating from said physician assistant program and then getting certified as a physician assistant in the state in which they want to practice. New specialties are popping up all the time, and there are currently around 60 or so varying specialties across the U.S. for physician assistants. This is based on dependable information that comes straight from the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

The following physician assistant specialties are those that are in clinical medicine since a lot of the physician assistant programs demand these specialties as part of their mandatory rotations. All of the physician assistant job descriptions for each of the seven specialties will cover its duties, its team, its salary and its summary.

1. Family Practice

Duties

Students must know that family practice is a very important aspect of the physician assistant profession; you might even call it the very cornerstone of the occupation! To wit, around 40 percent of all physician assistant work in this specialty. Physician assistants in this specialty have to know about internal medicine, pediatrics, orthopedics, dermatology, gynecology, obstetrics, pulmonology, endocrinology, HIV/AIDS and cardiology. They perform physical exams and even perform minor surgery.

Team

Physician assistants in this specialty work alongside doctors, nurses, clerks and medical assistants.

Salary

Family practice physician assistants can make between $68,000 to $85,000 each year, but this varies based on the type of practice (hospital clinic, group or solo).

Summary

Physician assistants working in family practice will get to improve on their clinical skills.

2. Emergency Medicine

Duties

Emergency medicine is quite fast-paced, which is why only 8 percent of all physician assistants work in this area. They may work in the psychiatry, fast track, major medical, trauma, medicine or surgery sections of a typical ER. It is common for physician assistants to be primarily assigned to one of these sections; however, it is also possible for any given physician assistant to actually cycle throughout all of these sections based upon his or her experience and preference, as well as the hospital policy.

Team

Physician assistants here work together with nurses, technicians, clinicians, emergency medicine personnel and clerical personnel.

Salary

Physician assistants in this specialty make between $71,000 and $94,000; the extra compensation is due to the added stress of the ER setting.

Summary

Lots of ER physician assistants work independently due to the high-stress environment, but they still have to work in collaboration with others in the ER.

3. Pediatrics

Duties

These physician assistants count for only about 3 percent of all physician assistants. For neonatal as well as pediatric physician assistants as house staff, their duties include dealing with patients on the in-patient pediatrics floor, help with high-risk deliveries, assess newborns, work inside of the pediatric clinic and offer coverage to the ER as required. On the neonatal side, the duties are quite procedure-heavy, which involves lumbar punctures, intravenous starts, placing chest tubes and collecting any blood gases.

Team

Physician assistants working in these physician assistant specialties work with secretaries, nurse’s aides, unit clerks, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, nurses, interns, residents, neonatologists and pediatricians.

Salary

Based on the hours put in, physician assistants here can earn between $64,000 and $87,000 per year.

Summary

Pediatric physician assistants have to be prepared for periods of calm and chaos, which means they have to know how to multitask.

4. Psychiatry

Duties

Psychiatry physician assistants normally work in a hospital setting, a mental health center or in a clinic. The duties include the evaluation of inpatients, the discussing of the case with the supervising psychiatry and even the recommendation of things such as changing the dosage of a patient’s medication. Another task of physician assistants in this specialty is actually to follow psychiatry patients on the consult service, which involves writing notes and offering up further recommendations if they are warranted.

Team

Physician assistants in this specialty work with the supervising psychiatrist, the nursing staff, the family of the patient and the attending doctor of the patient.

Salary

The mean salary for this kind of physician assistant is $76,948.

Summary

Physician assistants in this specialty face little stress. As such, this job might become boring or tedious, but it offers the opportunity for some research and publishing.

5. Obstetrics and Gynecology

Duties

Physician assistants working in these physician assistant specialties make up only 3 percent of the profession. An OB-GYN physician assistant could work in the operating room, the OB-GYN clinic, the inpatient OB-GYN room, in outreach or in the maternity ward. They will be expected to assist in the operating room, counsel patients, receive women for prenatal appointments, be competent in performing a pelvic examination and check on patients recovering from OB-GYN surgery.

Team

Physician assistants in this specialty have to work with doctors, nurse midwives, nurse-practitioners, clerical workers, OR personnel, technicians and nurses.

Salary

Physician assistant here are paid between $53,000 and $84,000 each year.

Summary

Since ob-gyn physician assistants work in mentally and physically demanding settings, they need to possess great surgical abilities and good diagnostic skills.

6. Internal Medicine

Duties

Internal medicine physician assistants represent 8 percent of those in the profession. Their duties include developing an understanding of renal medicine, cardiology, neurology, endocrinology, hematology and dermatology. Other duties include making hospital rounds with their chief resident, which involves looking at and examining patients, check and assess any lab results, updating supervising doctors on the condition and the treatment of various patients and being proficient in therapeutic and diagnostic procedures.

Team

Physician assistants work with interns, residents, doctors, nurses and technicians.

Salary

The range goes from $71,000 to $90,000.

Summary

This specialty is ideal for new graduates due to all the learning opportunities that present themselves in a hospital setting.

7. Surgery

Duties

The surgery specialty counts 22 percent of physician assistants. The duties of physician assistants in this specialty center around in-hospital surgical duties. They are pretty much accountable for the pre-, intra- and then post-operative care of patients. They have to take patient history, do a physical exam, do a preoperative check and do rounds after surgery.

Team

Physician assistants here work with surgeons, therapists, technicians, nurses and scrub nurses.

Salary

The range for these physician assistants is between $69,000 and $93,000.

Summary

Surgical physician assistants have to be team players, have great verbal and written abilities and pay attention to small details.

The physician assistant specialties are very diverse. This means that it will take a lot of thought for students to make sure that they decide a specialty that is fulfilling to them on various levels, not only on the issue of physician assistant salary. What is common to all specialties, however, is how demanding they are, yet also how good the compensation is.

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