Physician\'s Assistant (PA): Job Qualifications, Education Requirements, And National Salary Averages
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Physician\'s Assistant (PA): Job Qualifications, Education Requirements, And National Salary Averages

Physician assistant more commonly known as PA, is a medical professional who practices medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. The duties performed by a physician assistant are almost similar to those of a physician. Many a times, physician assistants are confused with medical assistants. However, both these profiles have different sets of duties to perform.

Though a physician assistant can perform all the jobs of a physician, he/she is not a doctor. According to a recent survey, medical jobs for physician assistant will be increasing in nearby future and even physician assistant salary range would be quite good. A summary on the job description of a physician assistant is given below.

Job Description of a Physician Assistant

To become a physician assistant one needs to complete a full time physician assistant education program for two years and an experience in heath related field. Basically a physician assistant is trained under a licensed physician after completion of the required education. The training includes diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic health care services. They can also work in a health care team. The array of duties performed by a physician assistant depends on the rules stated by the government of that country. In some states physician assistants are allowed to prescribe medicines to the patient. They make diagnosis and analyze lab or X ray reports. Many a times the duties performed by the physician assistant are framed by the physician himself. PAs have wide scope to work in the area of their choice. These areas include,

  • General internal medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Family medicine
  • Emergency medicine
  • Orthopedics
  • Geriatrics
  • Surgery

Usually a physician assistant works for at least 40 hours a week. Physician assistant working in hospitals may have to attend calls and work in emergency situations. Physician assistant learns and stores the medical history of patients, examines and provides appropriate treatment with the help of the supervising physician. In most rural areas, doctors are available only for two to three days of a week; physician assistants play an important role at such times. With good experience a PA can reduce a lot of work of the doctor and allow him to concentrate on complicated cases.

Salary Range of a Physician Assistant

As discussed earlier, the physician assistant pay scale is governed by various factors. These include the education, work location, work experience and the area of specialization. According to a survey made by the American Medical Association in the year 2008, it has been observed that the salary range for physician assistants with good work experience is somewhere between $119,000 - $200,000. The average salary of a PA was about $89,987. One more survey made in the year 2006 by the American Academy of Physician Assistants states that the average salary of a PA who worked for full time in clinical practice was $80,356.

Physical assistants who work in medical staffing firms earn more as compared to those working with specialty hospitals. The average salary figures of such PAs were $102,170 and $90,130 respectively. The location of the work also matters a lot when it comes to the physician assistant salary range. Some of the states like Alaska and Nevada offer highest paid salaries. While some states like Nebraska and North Dakota, have highest concentration of physician assistants. The table given below gives average salary of physician assistants in the year 2007.

Workplace Average Annual Income General Pediatrics $64,475 Ob-Gyn $68,408 Family Medicine $69,733 Internal Medicine $70,302 Critical Care Medicine $79,372 Interventional Radiology $79,605 Cardiothoracic Surgery $80,042 Emergency Medicine $81,508

In the year 2006, the average annual salary of first year graduate physician assistant was $69,410. Physician assistants are provided certain benefits by their supervising physician, like health insurance, retirement plans, paid holidays, etc. Thus it is clear that a good education and work experience can pay a handsome salary to a physician assistant.

Physician assistant is a good job profile for students who cannot attend medical schools but want to become health practitioners. The physician assistant pay scale increases if one has all the necessary requirements of a good physician assistant. Above given numbers related to the physician assistant salary range are approximate and may change under different circumstances.

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