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What Does it Take to Be a Physician Assistant?

Career Description Provide healthcare services typically performed by a physician, under the supervision of a physician. Conduct complete physicals, provide treatment, and counsel patients. May, in some cases, prescribe medication. Must graduate from an accredited educational program for physician assistants.

A Day in the Life of a Physician Assistant (PA)

  • Prescribe therapy or medication with physician approval.
  • Perform therapeutic procedures, such as injections, immunizations, suturing and wound care, and infection management.
  • Make tentative diagnoses and decisions about management and treatment of patients.
  • Administer or order diagnostic tests, such as x-ray, electrocardiogram, and laboratory tests.
  • Provide physicians with assistance during surgery or complicated medical procedures.
  • Examine patients to obtain information about their physical condition.

Things a Physician Assistant (PA) Should Know How to Do

These are the skills Physician Assistants say are the most useful in their careers:

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

  • Surgeon Assistant
  • Doctor
  • Surgery Technician (Surgery Tech)
  • Anesthetic Assistant
  • Surgical First Assistant

Are There Job Opportunities for Physician Assistants?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 106,200 jobs in the United States for Physician Assistant. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 37.4% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 39,700 new jobs for Physician Assistant by 2026. The BLS estimates 10,600 yearly job openings in this field.

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The states with the most job growth for Physician Assistant (PA) are Arizona, Utah, and Florida. Watch out if you plan on working in Rhode Island, Mississippi, or Alaska. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Physician Assistant (PA) Average Salary

The typical yearly salary for Physician Assistants is somewhere between $69,120 and $151,850.

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Physician Assistants who work in Connecticut, Washington, or Alaska, make the highest salaries.

How much do Physician Assistants make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $92,880
Alaska $122,260
Arizona $101,590
Arkansas $99,280
California $117,230
Colorado $102,770
Connecticut $125,610
Delaware $105,300
District of Columbia $114,740
Florida $105,930
Georgia $103,190
Hawaii $121,120
Idaho $109,090
Illinois $108,260
Indiana $96,090
Iowa $110,550
Kansas $104,720
Kentucky $91,010
Louisiana $85,990
Maine $110,030
Maryland $108,180
Massachusetts $108,700
Michigan $110,240
Minnesota $116,200
Mississippi $81,130
Missouri $94,480
Montana $106,130
Nebraska $106,700
Nevada $116,850
New Hampshire $111,080
New Jersey $116,270
New Mexico $108,610
New York $117,000
North Carolina $104,680
North Dakota $107,340
Ohio $105,410
Oklahoma $104,200
Oregon $113,570
Pennsylvania $98,510
Rhode Island $103,710
South Carolina $103,710
South Dakota $102,830
Tennessee $87,700
Texas $109,590
Utah $102,710
Vermont $106,520
Virginia $99,340
Washington $123,980
West Virginia $104,180
Wisconsin $107,920
Wyoming $116,890

What Tools do Physician Assistants Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Physician Assistants:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Web browser software
  • Word processing software
  • Spreadsheet software
  • MEDITECH software
  • Medical procedure coding software
  • Epic Systems
  • Healthcare common procedure coding system HCPCS
  • Medical condition coding software
  • Electronic medical record EMR software
  • ChartWare EMR
  • Teleconferencing software
  • Teleradiology systems

How do I Become a Physician Assistant (PA)?

What kind of Physician Assistant requirements are there?

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Where Physician Assistants Are Employed

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Physician Assistants work in the following industries:

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Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those interested in being a Physician Assistant may also be interested in:

Are you already one of the many Physician Assistant in the United States? If you’re thinking about changing careers, these fields are worth exploring:

References:

Image Credit: via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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