The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics revealed in their most recent report that the demand for physician assistants is one of the fastest growing professions through 2018. To be more concise, their most recent report indicated that the demand for physician assistants would increase by as much as much as 39% within the next eight years. This figure classified this profession to increase much faster than the average for all occupations in the United States.
The job outlook for physician assistants is excellent. More growth is expected in inner cities and rural areas. In 2008, more than half of physician assistants were employed in the offices of physicians. About a quarter worked in hospitals for general medical and surgical cases. The other institutions or organizations employing physician assistants included outpatient care centers, colleges, universities and the Federal Government. In 2008, there were about 74,800 jobs for this group of healthcare professionals. About 15% of the practicing physician assistants held more than one job in the same year, which supported the significant increase of demand for physician assistants.
The growing need for physician assistants is attributed to the continuous shortage of healthcare workers and providers in the country. With the increasing number of elderly individuals who require medical attention and treatment, in combination with the increasing number of retiring physicians and registered nurses and the rapid advances in medicine, the employment of physician assistants in offices of physicians and hospitals are considered as a means to supplement the workforce. Adding these healthcare professionals in clinical settings may temporarily alleviate the crisis as long-term solutions are being examined and designed.
Physicians assistant programs are offered by medical schools, 4-year colleges, schools of allied health, community colleges, the military and hospitals. Although most applicants are baccalaureate degree holders and have previous experiences related to healthcare, do not be discouraged. Each physicians assistant school has its own set of pre-requisites, and so, it is recommended to contact the physicians assistant college of your choice to learn the details. It is just as important to check whether or not the program of is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. Students who obtained physician assistant programs that are not accredited by the organization may not be qualified to take the certification exam. Physician assistant programs are completed in least two years.
Before a physician assistant graduate is allowed to practice, he or she should be able to pass the certification exam administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. If the candidate passes the examination he or she may be designated Physician Assistant-Certified. A recertification is required every two years. To qualify for a recertification, a physician assistant must have completed at least 100 hours of continuing medical education.
A physician assistant who is considering to pursue or to specialize in one field of study should ensure to enroll in a postgraduate educational program, such as internal medicine and emergency medicine, accredited by the NCCPA.