PAs, or physician assistants, practice medicine in collaboration with other medical professionals such as surgeons, physicians, and other healthcare workers.
They perform examinations, make diagnoses, and provide treatment to patients. A PA must be supervised by a physician responsible for overall patient care management.
In the past decade, the number of physicians has increased faster than the patient population. PAs are increasingly being called upon to lend their expertise and speed up patient care processes in various medical specialties, from pain management to primary care.
Most PAs concentrate more on clinical skills than medical knowledge during their training. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for this position, and postgraduate training is usually necessary. Here are some physician assistant jobs and career opportunities.
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a healthcare professional who performs medical diagnosis and treatment of diseases. This wide scope can encompass any disease; thus, NPs must have specialized training in medical fields, such as pediatric nursing or adult health and family health.
An NP must be licensed before working in their area of specialty, and they cannot use the title physician assistant. To be licensed, the nurse practitioner must complete at least an advanced degree to fulfill educational requirements.
From physical therapist to physician assistant: A physician assistant is a licensed healthcare professional who has earned a bachelor’s degree. The educational requirements for this profession are extremely similar to physical therapy, as the two professions share many characteristics. For example, both professions require an undergraduate degree in a healthcare-related field, such as kinesiology or biology.
An advanced degree is also necessary for both types of doctors, but the type of degree differs depending on the desired specialization. A physician assistant must complete a master’s or doctoral program to obtain either specialization.
From nurse to physician assistant:
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are healthcare specialists who provide primary medical care to patients. To become an NP, a person must complete an undergraduate degree and attend a master’s program designed for advanced practice nursing. Most nurse practitioners are associated with hospitals at some point during their careers.
Duties of Physician Assistants
Assess and record a patient’s progress: A physician assistant must complete a physical exam and collect information about a patient’s medical history. They must then make recommendations for subsequent treatment if any.
Perform diagnostic tests: A PA must prescribe lab tests, x-rays, and other diagnostics to identify and treat the symptoms of infection or disease. They may perform routine tests such as electrocardiograms (ECGs) and blood pressure monitoring in case of diabetes or high blood pressure.
Prescribe medicine: PAs can prescribe general medicine and certain medications. They can even prescribe controlled substances like narcotics in collaboration with a physician.
Perform minor surgery: PAs are qualified to perform minor surgeries such as inserting intravenous lines, administering anesthesia, and removing skin lesions. Surgery procedures may include removing kidney stones, applying casts for broken bones, or repairing hernias.
Administer anesthesia: PAs may be authorized to administer anesthesia during various medical procedures. For example, the PA must administer anesthesia if a patient requires a hernia surgery.
Administer pain relief: The PA can prescribe pain relief medications and inject them into their patients during medical procedures.
Examine patients: In collaboration with other healthcare workers, PAs examine their patients and carry out studies. They will look for abnormalities in the patient’s visual acuity, skin color and temperature, respiratory rate, heart rhythm, and blood pressure.
Order diagnostic tests: The physician assistant must order blood tests and x-rays when needed. They must also send urine and stool samples to the laboratory if any complications arise during a medical examination.
Take or review patients’ medical histories: PAs will interview and obtain medical histories from their patients.
Order physical examinations: When a physician orders, the PA will examine patients to check for illness, wounds, and other medical problems. They will also conduct physical exams to measure blood pressure, pulse rate, and body temperature.
Review patient charts: PAs must review patients’ charts to ensure they are up to date with all treatments prescribed by a physician. They might also need to update the medications that are being used.
Mainly, physician assistants work in the healthcare industry. They work with physicians in the patient’s medical care by providing and curtailing treatment management.
Physician assistants do not provide a broad array of care or primary care for patients like physicians do; however, they have become an important part of the medical team. PAs’ duties vary depending on the area of healthcare they focus on, such as pediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics, and occupational health.