Not many people are aware of what a physician assistant is, or what they do. However, almost everyone probably benefited from the kind of work these professionals do. In the United States alone, there are around 75,000 physician assistants at any given time. In simple words, physician assistants perform all kinds of tasks to help doctors or surgeons with their job.
For those aspiring to become a physician assistant, the first thing you need is a license, and to get this license, you have to complete the PA training course from an accredited agency. After that, you will need practical experience in the field before a doctor or surgeon hires you.
Roles and Responsibilities of Physician Assistants
A physician assistant helps diagnose medical conditions and diseases although doctors will always have the final say in the diagnosis. Diagnosis made by physician assistants is what you call provisional diagnosis.
PAs also work with patients by teaching them different ways to prevent diseases. They can also administer certain injections such as immunization shots or vaccines. Physician assistants also bear the authority to file requests for an EKG, X-ray, and other types of diagnostic tests which can help doctors in assessment of the health of the patient, and locating the cause of medical problems.
While the doctor meets with the patient, he can request the PA to go through the medical history of the patient to check if there are outstanding problems or issues which have to be addressed. A physician assistant can also prescribe medicines to the patient provided that the physician signs off on the prescription afterwards.
PAs can also provide more detailed help to patients than doctors have time to do so. For instance, the physician already prescribed a specific kind of physical therapy to assist in the recovery of an injured patient. The PA could meet with the patient in private to further explain the details of the course of therapy. The PA can also check up on the patient every now and then, and there are even cases where PAs visit the home of the patient to see the progress of treatment and ensure that the patient doesn’t have other concerns or questions. There are also instances when the PA can provide counseling to patients dealing with depression and other emotional problems related to their physical condition. Physicians used to do this kind of things but considering the severe constraints on schedules of doctors, it is rare for physicians to do all these things on their own anymore.
A physician assistant can also perform several administrative duties such as keeping track of the medical supplies or ordering new ones when they are needed, archiving and updating medical files, and supervising other employees working in the hospital or doctor’s office.
A physician assistant is one of the ideal medical jobs for those who would like to work with patients as well as improve lives of other people, but they don’t want to attend medical school just to do so.