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Physician Assistant – Is it the Perfect Career for you?

Are you a young and dynamic physician assistant fresh out of school and keen to serve humanity? Well, you will be happy to know that there’s a huge demand for physician assistants and every state is offloading more duties and responsibilities on their able shoulders. So, welcome to the real world and here’s a job description that will help you understand what you will go through right from your first day at work:

Job Essentials

All physician’s assistants must meet the following strict requirements. If you don’t, your job will be impacted. Here’s what you need to be:

  1. You must be highly motivated. Ever imagined a demotivated healthcare pro attending on to sick, glum patients? It would be disaster – so, no matter what, you must keep your morale and motivation levels high.
  2. You are on mission critical while on the job. A simple or silly mistake can change the patient’s life and land you in a legal soup. So, get ready to assume 100% responsibility.
  3. You will work under the supervision of a doctor or a surgeon and must ensure that all treatments administered, tests ordered, and medicines prescribed by you are with the written approval of your supervising doctor.
  4. Your work ethic must be strong and you must have a caring attitude.
  5. If you find work in a sensitive government agency, you must not disclose your employer’s ID. Likewise, other employers may also require you not to disclose their name.

 

Responsibilities

Your responsibilities will depend on your specialty, sub-specialty and experience, and therefore the duties of physicians assistant will differ. A family physician assistant does lesser than an general surgery assistant, and so on. However, you will be required to do about 75% of what your doctor can do and here is a general list of duties and responsibilities:

  1. Collecting, reading and understanding every patient’s medical history.
  2. Physically examining patients and assessing their health.
  3. Ordering tests, recording test results, analyzing results and helping the patient understand the results.
  4. Diagnosing medical conditions.
  5. Caring for a wide variety of wounds, stabilizing trauma, etc.
  6. Administering injections and immunizations.
  7. Prescribing medicines (ensure that you follow the state laws – some states do not allow PAs to prescribe medicines).
  8. Checking on and recording patients’ progress.
  9. Counseling patients and their family members on treatments and therapies, including alternative therapies.
  10. Supervising medical assistants and technicians.
  11. Ordering healthcare supplies.
  12. Referring patients to other doctors/surgeons.
  13. Stepping into the doctor’s shoes (with his written permission) when the need arises.
  14. Traveling, if required.

 

Qualifications and Experience

  1. You must possess a bachelor’s degree from an American Association of Physician Assistants (AAPA)-approved program.
  2. Your NCCPA (National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants) certification must be current.
  3. Most employers are discerning and look for minimum 3.5 GPA. So, getting a job will depend on your academic records as well.
  4. Your experience counts as well. The employer will check if you have had any experience in a similar setting. An urban hospital will check for your work experience in urban metropolitan areas, a rural facility will check for your familiarity and experience in rural settings, and so on.
  5. Government agency jobs will involve travel and may require fluency in a foreign language.
  6. Every employer wants his physician assistant to be in top mental and physical shape. You may be required to complete a very thorough physical and psychological exam. Jobs with agencies like the CBI will require you to “lie” down and take a polygraph test.
  7. Your substance abuse record will be checked as well. If you have used illegal drugs in the past, it may weigh against your getting the job.
  8. The employer will also run a background check, which is a routine procedure.

 

Earnings

The physician assistant salary is based on a number of factors:

  1. Your experience and skill-level will make the biggest difference. Sharper skills and rich experience will naturally result in higher pay.
  2. Your specialization will count too. A HIV/AIDS PA gets a higher salary then a family practice PA. The pay can go really high for specialties facing a shortage of PAs.
  3. Geography counts as well. Urban healthcare centers pay higher salaries than rural facilities.
  4. The type of healthcare facility also counts. A practicing physician pays lesser than a hospital and a government agency and education institutions pay lesser than what physicians and hospitals pay.

 

Depending on your area of specialization, you can expect to start anywhere between $50,000 and $70,000 (rough estimates).

Conclusion

The job outlook for a physician assistant is robust and is expected to grow at a healthy clip till 2018. It’s a noble, soul-satisfying and rewarding profession that requires a lot of hard work and dedication.

 

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