These healthcare providers are educated and trained on how to assess, diagnose and treat various mental and physical medical conditions whether it is an illness, injury or disorder.
In addition to working under the direct supervision of a physician PAs may also work alongside nurse practitioners, registered nurses, certified nurse assistants and nurse aides in order to provide patients with proper medical care and attention.
PA’s allow physicians and other medical experts to spend more time focusing on medical tasks that require their particular expertise while providing medical assistance to patient in their care.
PAs may act as an interim between the patient and the physician in order to gather valuable patient data, assess the patient’s condition and streamline the process for the physician so that the physician is able to provide care to more patients in a timely manner when the presence of a physician is necessary.
In many cases physician assistants may provide the primary care for patient during a visit or treatment without the patient ever seeing the physician.
In fact in many settings a physician assistant may spend much more time caring for patients than the actual supervising physician.
What do physician assistants do?
Physician assistant are able to gather and record patient medical histories, assess the patient’s medical condition, diagnose and treat various medical conditions, perform examinations and procedures, prescribe medication and develop treatment plans, take blood, urine and saliva samples for testing, interpret lab tests, assist in surgical operations and perform many other duties of a physician.
Aside from assessing, diagnosing, and treating patient medical conditions physician assistants also provide counsel and education to patients in order to help prevent potential illnesses and/or injuries and help patients properly recover from any medical issues they may be dealing with.
Mentally and emotionally PAs must be caring, attentive, patient and understanding when dealing with with patients and coworkers.
They must be able to treat patient confidentiality as a top priority and respect their privacy as an individual.
Physician assistant are able to work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care settings, doctors offices, long-term health care centers and many other healthcare settings that require their expertise, and are able to specialize in a particular field of healthcare such as adult care, emergency medicine, neonatal care, neurology, dermatology, surgery, orthopedics and urgent care among many other medical disciplines.
Depending on the healthcare facility they work for physician assistants may have the opportunity to work set hours and even have weekends or Sundays off.
For example physician assistants that work in a physician office or dermatology office may have set hours that correlate with that offices open hours such as 7:30am – 5pm or 9am – 6pm.
On the other hand physician assistant that work in an urgent care setting or in an emergency room may have more sparse hours, work morning, noon or night shifts or even be required to work on an on call basis.
The role of the supervising physician is to monitor the physician assistant’s performance and provide valuable feedback on how to provide proper care for their patients.
Supervising physicians may provide consultation to PA’s either in person, over the phone or over the internet via email or video conferencing.
PA’s may discuss important patient topics and gain valuable feedback on important issues such as recommendations on medical procedures and medications, addressing direct patient concerns, advice on how to manage and/or cope with certain situations and other medical related topics that can help the physician assistant form a better patient analysis and improve their performance.
Highly trained supervisors are great at helping PA’s become better at their job by providing valuable insights, sharing their knowledge and helping new PA’s cope with their work, which can significantly help PA’s with their confidence, prevent potential medical errors and allow them to make better medical decisions in the future.
Those who are interested in becoming physician assistants must first graduate from a 4 year undergraduate program and then spend an additional 2 – 3 years in a physician assistant medical program.
In addition to the PA program students will also be required to complete 2000 hours of clinical training.
Once a student graduates from the PA program, completes their clinical training and earns their license they must complete 100 hours of medical training every two years and pass a re-certification exam every 10 years in order to maintain their license and continue practicing as a physician assistant.
PA’s spend their lives learning, training and performing their duties in order to become better medical providers and will continue to educate themselves as long as they practice in the medical field.
Continuing education is an important factor for these medical experts as medical procedures, medicine and the legal aspects of their work continue to evolve and change over time.
Why are PA’s important?
PA’s play and important role in the healthcare system.
Physician assistants are able to enter the healthcare field faster than physicians and are able to help assist busy hospitals, healthcare centers and doctors offices with valuable medical expertise in a timely manner and provide direct medical care to patients in need of assistance, which can be especially important when a healthcare center sees tons of patients on a daily basis and needs qualified staff members who can provide adequate patient care.
PA’s allow physicians to spend more time focusing on medical tasks that require their expertise by providing medical care to patients who do not need direct care from the physician.
They also allow busy hospitals, doctor offices and various other healthcare facilities to significantly cut down on patient waiting times and their minimize potential medical errors and risks, which can can occur in a busy facility that otherwise would not have a proper medical staff.
Without physician assistants many healthcare facilities would have difficultly keeping up with patient demand and growing patient populations.
PA’s provide an excellent balance between quality medical care and employee growth within a healthcare facility.