What is a PA?
PAs (physician associates/physician assistants) are licensed clinicians who practice medicine in every specialty and setting. Trusted, rigorously educated and trained healthcare professionals, PAs are dedicated to expanding access to care and transforming health and wellness through patient-centered, team-based medical practice.
What education does a PA have?
PAs are educated at the master’s degree level. There are more than 304 PA programs in the country and admission is highly competitive, requiring a bachelor’s degree and completion of courses in basic and behavioral sciences as prerequisites. Incoming PA students bring with them an average of more than 3,000 hours of direct patient contact experience, having worked as paramedics, athletic trainers, or medical assistants, for example. PA programs are approximately 27 months (three academic years), and include classroom instruction and more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations.
Is there a high demand for PAs?
Yes. The PA profession is one of the fastest growing in the country. The demand for PAs increased more than 300 percent from 2011 to 2014, according to the healthcare search firm Merritt Hawkins. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the profession will increase 28 percent from 2021 to 2031, significantly faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for PAs is so high that three quarters of PAs receive multiple job offers upon graduation.
To learn more about becoming a PA, visit aapa.org/career central.
What is included in PA school curriculum?
A PA’s medical education and training are rigorous. The PA school curriculum is modeled on the medical school curriculum that involves both didactic and clinical education training.
In the didactic phase, students take courses in basic medical sciences, behavioral sciences, and behavioral ethics.
In the clinical phase, students complete more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in medical and surgical disciplines, including family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine, and psychiatry.
What do PAs do?
PAs’ specific duties depend on the setting in which they work, their level of experience, their specialty, and state laws.
Generally, PAs can: