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What Do Physician Assistant Jobs Entail?

What are the duties involved with physician assistant jobs and how can you qualify for them? Here are your answers.

A career in the healthcare industry is something that many people aspire to, and there are a wide variety of professions open to individuals looking to pursue a medical career. While a physician is most commonly the person that will examine, diagnose and treat patients, there is also a career option known as a physician assistant. For those interested in learning about physician assistant jobs the following are some of the basic details about what working in this profession entails.


While physician assistant jobs entail carrying out much of the work done by a regular doctor, a physician assistant typically works under the guidance and supervision of a senior physician. Generally the duties that they will undertake are set by the supervising doctor that they work for, although many states have enacted laws which determine the work they can carry out. It can therefore be sensible for those looking to pursue a career in the field to understand the state laws for the area they plan to work. Many physician assistants work as part of a larger medical team, although in smaller communities and rural areas they can be the principal caregiver for a practice, when a senior physician is only available for a couple of days a week. However, even in these cases they must keep in regular contact with the senior physician as required to carry out the job.

With that being said, a physician assistant typically has the required training and experience to undertake a wide variety of medical duties. Their responsibilities can include examining, diagnosing and treating patients, as well as ordering laboratory tests and interpreting the results, recording the medical history of patients, prescribing appropriate medication and counseling patients with regard to their conditions. In practices where they are the primary caregiver, they may also be responsible for supervising the work of other medical staff, as well as ensuring medical equipment and supplies are kept well stocked for the treatment of patients.


Physician assistant jobs can be based in a variety of healthcare specialties. This ranges from general medical practice to surgery, pediatrics, family medicine and a range of other fields of medicine. Typically they have the option of working in a variety of healthcare fields, and can choose to specialize in the area of medicine that they are most interested in. Jobs can be based in hospitals, as well as private clinics and practices, with the hours worked typically depending on the facility worked in and the particular demands of the job.

Education and Training Requirements

A number of programs are available for those that want to train for physician assistant jobs. Typically those looking to enter a program will already have completed a college degree and many applicants have at least some experience in the medical profession. Full time courses will typically take a minimum of at least 2 years to complete and programs can be found at schools of allied health, medical colleges, and in some cases hospitals. For career advancement, it is generally best to study at an accredited school, with the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant being one of the best places to find out about these. They currently list in excess of 150 schools and colleges that have accredited programs available for those interested in studying. Most programs will include classroom lectures and practical clinical experience in a variety of subjects from human anatomy to physical diagnosis and medical ethics.

State Licensing

For anyone wanting to work as a physician assistant, it is necessary to gain state licensure. This entails graduating from an accredited study program and then passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. This enables those working in the field to use the title Physician Assistant-Certified. To maintain the title it is a requirement to carry out at least one hundred hours of continuing education every 2 years, and a recertification exam generally needs to be taken every 6 years.

With the aging population and more and more illnesses becoming treatable, healthcare is a growing industry that is likely to provide good career opportunities in future years. For those looking to enter the industry, physician assistant jobs can be an option to consider. This can provide both a lucrative and rewarding career, with the information above showing some of the basic details of what the job entails in terms of education, training and responsibilities.


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