What are the Different Physician Assistant Jobs?

Desi C.
Desi C.
Physician assistants can prescribe medications in most U.S. jurisdictions.
Physician assistants can prescribe medications in most U.S. jurisdictions.

Physician assistant jobs exist in every area of medicine, and require working with a health team to deliver patient care. It is the job of a physician assistant to conduct physical exams, tests, provide assistance during surgery, and even prescribe medication, all under the supervision of an acting physician. While most physician assistants are found working in primary care, there are many who also specialize in a particular area of medicine.

A pediatric physician assistant treats young patients under the supervision of a pediatrician.
A pediatric physician assistant treats young patients under the supervision of a pediatrician.

Common physician assistant jobs in primary care involve working in pediatrics, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and internal medicine. Areas that a physician assistant might specialize in include, but are not limited to the following: radiology, urology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, cardiac care, oncology, ER, general and vascular surgery, dermatology, gastroenterology, acute care, and pain management.

Both physician assistants and nurses are an important part of a patient's health care team.
Both physician assistants and nurses are an important part of a patient's health care team.

The work hours of a physician assistant can vary by the work setting. They can work in an on-call situation, where flexibility and sporadic scheduling should be expected. Longer shifts and fewer work days can also be scheduled, leaving time for other activities. A more typical, forty hour work week is possible for a physician assistant who works in a clinic or a private practice.

Physician assistants who specialize in cardiac care may monitor patients immediately after heart surgery.
Physician assistants who specialize in cardiac care may monitor patients immediately after heart surgery.

Other physician assistant jobs exist in academic settings. Universities and training programs prefer to hire physician assistants who have experience in the field, and who hold at least a bachelor's degree or higher. As educators, physician assistants are often referred to as professors or assistant professors of a PA program.

Another career option to consider is serving in the military while working as a physician assistant. In the U.S., a physician assistant can be enlisted as an Officer and join the U.S. Army Health Care Team. This physician assistant job is a career move that can lead to travel, good military benefits, retirement, and student loan repayment. It can also be a very stressful position depending upon where the physician assistant is stationed.

Physician assistant jobs can be found in hospital settings.
Physician assistant jobs can be found in hospital settings.

In the United States, the American Academy of Physician Assistants can provide information about the requirements and outlook for physician assistant jobs. Certification for this field is through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), which can provide more information about the specific requirements for working in a particular area of medicine.

A physician assistant may choose to specialize in geriatrics.
A physician assistant may choose to specialize in geriatrics.

Physician assistants are needed around the world, therefore training is offered in many different countries. In the U.K., physician assistant training and employment is overseen by the National Health Service and the UK Association of Physician Assistants.

Physician assistant jobs can be found in hospital settings, at private practices, in clinics, schools and universities, and in the military as previously noted. This is a career that requires years of training, however the salary and benefits are outstanding, and the opportunity to move about in the field of medicine is very good.

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    • Physician assistants can prescribe medications in most U.S. jurisdictions.
      By: spotmatikphoto
      Physician assistants can prescribe medications in most U.S. jurisdictions.
    • A pediatric physician assistant treats young patients under the supervision of a pediatrician.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      A pediatric physician assistant treats young patients under the supervision of a pediatrician.
    • Both physician assistants and nurses are an important part of a patient's health care team.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Both physician assistants and nurses are an important part of a patient's health care team.
    • Physician assistants who specialize in cardiac care may monitor patients immediately after heart surgery.
      By: sudok1
      Physician assistants who specialize in cardiac care may monitor patients immediately after heart surgery.
    • Physician assistant jobs can be found in hospital settings.
      By: Sam Spiro
      Physician assistant jobs can be found in hospital settings.
    • A physician assistant may choose to specialize in geriatrics.
      By: Monkey Business
      A physician assistant may choose to specialize in geriatrics.