What is a physician's assistant? From ExploreHealthCareers.org:
"Physician assistants are medical providers who are licensed to diagnose and treat illness and disease and to prescribe medication for patients. They work in physician offices, hospitals, and clinics in collaboration with a licensed physician. The physician-PA relationship is fundamental to the profession and enhances the delivery of high-quality health care. Because of their advanced education in general medicine, modeled after physician education, physician assistants can treat patients with significant autonomy.
"In a primary care setting, physician assistants can provide nearly all of the clinical services a physician does, including:
- Take medical histories
- Perform physical exams
- Order and interpret laboratory tests
- Diagnose and treat illnesses
- Counsel patients
- Assist in surgery
- Set fractures
“Physician assistants are critical to increasing access to care for rural and other underserved patients as they are often the only health providers in these areas. Nearly 300 million patient visits were made to physician assistants, and approximately 332 million medications were prescribed or recommended by physician assistants in 2008. Physician assistants also work in specialties outside of primary care, including medical and surgical specialties and sub-specialties.”
- Time to Degree: A master's degree is required and typically takes about two years to complete. Most students have a bachelor's degree and about three years of health care experience before applying for their master's.
- Clinical Requirements: Around 2,000 hours of clinical rotations must be completed.
- Certification Requirements: You must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).
- Median Indiana Salary: $91,600
- Projected Job Growth: 30% between 2014 and 2024
- Minimum GPA: Varies by program; the average GPA was about a 3.5.
- Tuition: The average cost of a two-year PA program is between $60,000 and $80,000.
- Exam Requirement: GRE
- Application Deadlines: Varies by program.
- Prerequisite Courses: Varies by school, but in general the following are expected:
- Human anatomy with lab
- Human physiology with lab
- General biology with lab
- Human biology with lab (recommend genetics, cell biology, or immunology)
- Microbiology with lab
- General chemistry 1 with lab
- General chemistry 2 with lab
- Organic chemistry with lab
- Introductory psychology
- Statistics or biostatistics
- Medical terminology