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Physician Assistants PA Description


A physician assistant (PA), is a healthcare professional who is trained to practice medicine as part of a team with physicians.

Physician assistants are concerned with preventing and treating human illness and injury by providing a broad range of health care services under the direction of a physician or surgeon. Physician assistants conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, prescribe medications, counsel on preventive health care and may assist in surgery.

Physician Assistants - SUMMARY

Quick Facts: Physician Assistants
2012 Median Pay $90,930 per year
$43.72 per hour
Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 86,700
Job Outlook, 2012-22 38% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 33,300
Physician assistants practice medicine under the supervision of physicians and surgeons
Physician assistants practice medicine under the supervision of physicians and surgeons.

What Physician Assistants Do

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on a team under the supervision of physicians and surgeons. They are formally educated to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment.

Work Environment

Physician assistants work in physicians' offices, hospitals, and other healthcare settings. Most work full time.

How to Become a Physician Assistant

Physician assistants must complete an accredited educational program. These programs usually lead to a master's degree. All states require physician assistants to be licensed.


The median annual wage for physician assistants was $90,930 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 38 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increased demand for healthcare services from the growing and aging population and widespread chronic disease, combined with a shortage of physicians, will result in increased demand for healthcare providers, such as physician assistants.

Last Modification: 01-26-2014