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Job Prospects for a Physician Assistant

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/3/2010

Training as a physician assistant can be a great path to working within the health care profession. In this article, learn about physician assistant job prospects.

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    What a Physician Assistant?

    Often time, physician assistants are confused with their colleagues medical assistants, however the two are completely different. Physician assistants practice medicine under the supervision of a physician or a surgeon; they provide diagnostics and other functions of healthcare services as delegated by an attending physician.Though they work under a physician, some PAs are routinely called upon to provide medical services for rural or inner-city hospitals or clinics.

    In this article, learn about physician assistant job prospects and how they relate to the growing healthcare profession.

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    Physician Assistant Job Prospects

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PAs demand is expected to grow much faster than that of other industries. As part of the fast growing healthcare services, physician assistant job prospects are very good for the up coming years of 2010 and 2011, especially if willing to serve within the inner city and rural locales. This is because locales have trouble attracting physicians and surgeons; this in no way means that PAs are not capable of holding their own and providing medical care to those who desperately need and seek it.

    The work area for a PA, regardless of location, is usually that of a family practice type setting or office; those that provide care forPhysician Assistant Job Prospects  internal medicine, family care, and pediatrics. They can also serve with orthopedics, general surgery, and emergency medicine practices. Those PAs that act as surgery assistants will work with the attending physician or surgeon by doing the preoperative or postoperative care. They help to deliver medications or surgical preparations before the surgery, as well as taking care of the patient after the surgery. Many PAs serve as the secondary physician during a major surgery.

    The work environment for a physician assistant is much the same as that of an attending physician or surgeon, as many often follow the work schedule of that of their attending physician. For those looking to practice as a PA, they can expect nearly the same type of work schedule as any doctor that is working within a hospital - rotational shifts, with some on-call time. For PAs that work in a clinic, expect to have a 40-hour a week work schedule.

    Schooling for PAs usually occurs at major universities or colleges that offer classes in healthcare services; very few community colleges offer this type of classes. A minimum of two years is needed to complete the degree coursework of being a physician assistant. Many students who go this route already have some form of medical training; many students have been or are currently hospital/clinic nurses, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics. Depending on college and state requirements, the classes and coursework may vary.

    The average salary for a physician assistant is a little under $85,000 for an annual income, with nearly 75,000 positions for PAs filled in the year 2008.

    Image content @ Morgue File