Physicians often get all the praise in the world, whereas physician assistants might most times feel ignored or, at the very least, underappreciated.
However, PAs are highly skilled and of significant importance in the medical world. They do work alongside a supervising doctor. However, that doesn’t mean they work under the doctor’s direct supervision. They’re highly independent and dependable. So let’s see what makes them so special.
What Does a Physician Assistant Do?
A physician assistant is the one who handles patients when the main physician is too occupied. With that being said, a physician assistant check on patients, examinates them, diagnose illnesses, help doctors during surgery, write prescriptions, manage treatment plans, and offers advice to patients regarding how they should prevent and treat most illnesses based on their medical history and other common factors.
And if you’re still not convinced of how important physician assistants are, you can see that many physician jobs in Texas postings also mention the help of a PA involved. Furthermore, physician assistants can practice as independent clinicians within the scope of state law. They are fully capable of providing full medical support in numerous cases.
Physician Assistants Aren’t Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners are a very different thing from physician assistants. And while they do similar stuff, their education and training are what sets them apart from one another. A nurse practitioner studies advanced nursing. Their training and practice focus on a patient-centered model. PAs, on the other hand, receive training similar to that of a medical student and can dive into different specializations.
More specifically, a physician assistants can specialize themselves in several of the following domains:
- Pediatrics (children’s health)
- Obstetrics and gynecology (women’s health)
- Emergency medicine
- Ear, nose, and throat (ENT)/Otolaryngology
- Dermatology (skin health)
- Cardiology (heart health)
- General practice
- Internal medicine
Further Reading on Education and Training
Normally, a physician assistant starts with a bachelor’s degree focused on science from an accredited university or college. However, there are some schools that also offer a pre-PA degree which will open up a physician’s assistant program that has accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
Most of the time, a physician assistant program will take you around two years to complete. However, as a student, you’ll also have to put in 2,000 clinical rotation hours. PAs must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), which is overseen and administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Afterward, they’re free to practice with physician assistant certified (PA-C) credentials.
But wait, there’s more! You thought it was that easy? No, a physician assistant must take 100 continuing education credit hours every 2 years to keep the certification. They must also take a recertification exam every 10 years. So, yes, becoming and staying a physician assistant is as hard as it gets.
Why You Should See a Physician Assistant
If you’re suffering from a chronic disease or simply want to prevent any long-lasting health issues, then there’s rarely a better person to see than a physician assistant. They will guide you just about anything you need to know and they can schedule you to a specialist in case they stumble upon something that needs a more detailed examination.
Last but not least, it’s much easier to schedule an appointment with a physician assistant than with a doctor, and they in turn can make an appointment with a doctor much easier than you can make on your own.
Physician assistants deserve more praise than they get. We hope that we have managed to make it easier for you to tell what these people do and why they are important to you and to our healthcare system in general.
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