With a growing and changing medical industry, anybody who desires of job security, better job opportunities and greater chances for career advancements should consider starting a career as a physician assistant. As a member of the healthcare team who closely works with the supervising physician, a physician assistant is mainly tasked to assist medical doctors and surgeons in providing treatment and education to the patients. In addition, they are also responsible in ordering and interpreting results of diagnostic and laboratory tests, consequently resulting in accurate diagnoses.
One of the reasons why a career in this field of healthcare should be considered is the increasing demand for physician assistants as the shortage of healthcare provides continues. The demand for physician assistants is one of the strongest within the next eight years. In the most recent report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of physician assistants needed is estimated to increase by as much as 39% through 2018. This figure indicates that the employment of physician assistants is increasing much faster than the average for all occupations in the United States. In 2008, about 74,800 employments were held physician assistants. The demand for this group of trained and qualified healthcare professionals is apparent with the number of physician assistants working in more than one job in the same year. The American Academy of Physician Assistants revealed that about 15% of physician assistants worked in more than one job in 2008. The need for trained physician assistants is expected to rise significantly in medical facilities located in rural communities and inner cities.
The salary and benefits for physician assistants are also promising. This is another reason why building a career as a physician assistant can be fulfilling and rewarding. Physician assistants earn between $68,210 and $97,070 annually. On the average, physician assistants earn $81,230 each year. The salary may vary as it is influenced by certain factors, such as specialty, location and years of experience. Physician assistants working in general medical and surgical hospitals and outpatient care centers were paid the highest in 2008.
In addition to the strong demand for physician assistants and the high earnings, physician assistant is also a profession that offers greater opportunities for career advancements. With additional education obtained through physician assistant programs, physician assistants can also specialize in one clinical area. Internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, neonatology and surgery are only some areas that they can specialize. With specialization, earnings are higher and career mobility is more promising.
Physician assistant schools like medical schools, 4-year colleges, schools of allied health, community colleges and hospitals offer programs for physician assisting. Some of these institutions offer the option of a master’s degree, whereas others offer a baccalaureate degree. Associate degrees and certifications are also given by certain physician assistant colleges.
Physician assistant programs may include courses with classroom lectures and laboratory instruction. Subjects in human anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, medical ethics, clinical medicine, biochemistry and physical diagnosis are usually included in the program. Supervised training in actual work settings develop the students’ understanding and clinical skills in certain subjects, such as internal medicine, pediatrics, prenatal care, gynecology, surgery, geriatrics, emergency medicine and prenatal care.