The Physician Assistant (PA) is academically and clinically prepared to provide healthcare services with the direction and responsible supervision of a doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy. The physician/PA team relationship is fundamental to the PA profession and enhances the delivery of high-quality health care. Within the physician/PA relationship, PAs make clinical decisions and provide a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive, and health maintenance services. The clinical role of PAs includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice settings. PA practice is centered on patient care and may include educational, research, and administrative activities.
The role of the PA demands intelligence, sound judgment, intellectual honesty, appropriate interpersonal skills, and the capacity to react to emergencies in a calm and reasoned manner. An attitude of respect for self and others, adherence to the concepts of privilege and confidentiality in communicating with patients, and a commitment to the patient's welfare are essential attributes of the graduate PA.
The specific tasks performed by individual PAs cannot be delineated precisely because of the variations in practice requirements mandated by economical, geographical, political, and social factors. At a minimum, however, PAs are educated in areas of basic medical science, clinical disciplines, and discipline-specific problem solving. PA practice is characterized by clinical knowledge and skills in areas traditionally defined by family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, surgery, and psychiatry/behavioral medicine. PAs practice in ambulatory, emergency, inpatient, and long-term care settings. PAs deliver healthcare services to diverse patient populations of all ages with a range of acute and chronic medical and surgical conditions. They need knowledge and skills that allow them to function effectively in a dynamic healthcare environment. For more information about the profession, click on the links below.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Becoming a PA
American Academy for Physician Assistants
Physician Assistant Education Association
Physician Assistants: A Fast-Growing Profession
PA videos on YouTube