A physician assistant works under physicians and surgeons to diagnose medical problems, treat minor injuries, and educate patients. This may include ordering x-rays and other laboratory tests, applying sutures, prescribing some medications, and, in some health care facilities, ordering additional medical supplies. They provide primary care in less populated areas and other places where a physician is only available a few days per week.
It normally takes at least 2 years to complete a physician assistant program. Most physician assistant students have already completed a college degree program and have some experience working in the health care industry. Some students move into physician assisting from other related fields such as nursing.
Because a physician assistant helps perform some of the the duties of physicians in a cost effective manner, the field is growing quickly. In fact, almost 40% more physician assistants will be needed over the next decade. It provides the opportunity to work directly with patients and perform a wide variety of tasks within the healthcare field.