Physician assistants are medical practitioners who generally work under the supervision of physicians, surgeons, and doctors. They may specialize in a variety of areas, including pediatric care, emergency care, and primary care. Key qualities that physician assistants should possess include compassion, great communication skills, and excellent problem solving skills. Certified medical assistants typically work directly with patients, and duties might include:
Reviewing medical histories and keeping track of progress
Performing physical examinations
Ordering and analyzing tests and giving treatments when necessary
Educating and communicating with patients and their families
Physician Assistant Job Education Requirements
Generally, physician assistants are required to earn a master's degree, with at least two years of postgraduate study. Most candidates who enter the field also obtain experience in healthcare-related work during their undergraduate study. Physician assistants are also required to be licensed in order to practice in all states, and they must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. In order to maintain their certification, physician assistants must complete 100 hours of continuing education every two years and must pass the recertification exam every 10 years.
Physician Assistant Job Market
Physician assistant jobs are projected to grow very quickly, at about 38 percent through 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average growth rate for most jobs, which means this is an excellent field to consider. Many factors contribute to this increased demand for physician assistants. Greater frequencies of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, along with the expanding and aging population will lead to a demand for increased healthcare services. Since physician assistants can perform many of the same services that physicians can yet also remain more cost-effective, demand for their services will continue to grow quickly. Physician assistants have the potential to take on the role of primary care providers in the near future.
Physician Assistant Job Salary Information
The average annual salary for science jobs in the healthcare industry is about $91,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest end of the field earns in the range of $62,000 per year, while the top 10 percent of the field earns over $125,000 per year. Some of the most lucrative areas for physician assistants include state, local, or private hospitals; outpatient care centers; health practitioners' offices; and educational and government services. There is a wide variety of opportunities for growth and advancement physician assistants.