Advertisement

What is a physician assistant?

A physician assistant (PA) is a health professional who practices medicine with the supervision of a licensed physician. PAs work in primary care or more specialized areas such as cardiothoracic surgery.

As their title suggests, physician assistants, or PAs, assist doctors with patient care.

Physician assistants are licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Training for physician assistants, which includes classroom and laboratory instruction across a wide range of medical specialties, typically takes two to three years. Most physician assistant programs are graduate-level programs, which require a bachelor's degree for admittance. All physician assistants must pass a certification exam to receive their license and take ongoing continuing medical education (CME) courses throughout their careers.

Physician assistants provide care by performing exams and some types of procedures, taking medical histories, ordering diagnostic tests and treatments, making diagnoses, prescribing medications and making referrals to other specialists. Many physician assistants work in primary care clinics, and as active members of other providers’ health care teams.

Continue Learning about Healthcare Basics

An App a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
An App a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Worried about what’s causing your lingering cough? Having trouble with weight loss? Wondering what foods are dangerous to eat when you’re pregnant? N...
Read More
What information about my power of attorney should I organize before I die?
EverplansEverplans
It is important to organize your power of attorney (POA) information before you die. The information...
More Answers
10 Things Nurses Wish Their Patients Knew
10 Things Nurses Wish Their Patients Knew10 Things Nurses Wish Their Patients Knew10 Things Nurses Wish Their Patients Knew10 Things Nurses Wish Their Patients Knew
Be honest, speak up and don't forget to stop in and say hello
Start Slideshow
How Can Mobile Health Technology Help Remote Villages?
How Can Mobile Health Technology Help Remote Villages?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.