Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join
What is a PA?
Share |

More than 40 years ago...

Definition

Physician Assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs employed by the federal government are credentialed to practice. Common services provided by a PA include taking medical histories and performing physical examinations; ordering and interpreting lab tests; diagnosing and treating illnesses; assisting in surgery; prescribing and/or dispensing medication; and counseling patients.

PA Education & Training

PAs are trained in intensive education programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (previously the American Medical Association's Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation.) Because of the close working relationship the PAs have with physicians, PAs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. Upon graduation, physician assistants take a national certification examination developed by the National Commission on Certification of PAs in conjunction with the National Board of Medical Examiners. To maintain their national certification, PAs must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and sit for a recertification every six years. Graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licensure.

Scope of Practice

What a Physician Assistant does varies with training, experience, and state law. In addition, the scope of the PA's practice corresponds to the supervising physician's practice. In general, a Physician Assistant will see many of the same types of patients as the physician. The cases handled by physicians are generally the more complicated medical cases or those cases which require care that is not a routine part of the PA's scope of work. Referral to the physician, or close consultation between the patient and physician, is done for unusual or hard to manage cases. Physician assistants are taught to "know our limits" and refer to physicians appropriately. It is an important part of PA training.


PA Fact Sheet

Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal