What is a Physician Assistant?
Table of Contents
A physician assistant is a medically trained professional who works under the supervision of a physician, and has the ability to examine, diagnose and treat patients. Some physician assistants specialize in a particular area, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or emergency care, where they can assist physicians with procedures and advanced medical techniques. They are also able to prescribe medication, suture small wounds, interpret medical tests, and prepare splints or casts. In rural or underserved areas, physician assistants are often the patient's first contact for medical care.
What does a Physician Assistant do?
Under the supervision of a physician, a physician assistant provides high-quality health care services to patients and to the community. Their job description is as diverse as their supervising physician, and their role is regarded as critical to any health care team. They have a variety of responsibilities and duties that include:
- seeing patients
- conducting physical exams
- taking medical histories
- ordering tests
- interpreting tests
- diagnosing illnesses
- treating illnesses
- writing prescriptions
- developing a treatment plan
- giving counsel on preventive care
- making rounds in the hospital or clinic
- assisting in surgery
- discharging patients
It is important to note that individuals who are more interested in patient care tend to gravitate towards becoming a nurse, or a nurse practitioner. People who are more interested in diagnosis and treatment gravitate towards becoming a physician assistant. It would be wise to decide ahead of time what role it is that you want, and take the path that will allow you to fulfill that role.
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What is the workplace of a Physician Assistant like?
A physician assistant can work in a doctor's office, in a hospital, or for outpatient care centres. Work can be demanding, both physically and emotionally, but can also be rewarding when helping patients. Most work full time, are often on call, and may be required to work nights, weekends and holidays.
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Over the last two decades, several new medical and healthcare professions have been created to keep up with the need for specialized health care. Two such healthcare professions are that of a physician assistant and nurse practitioner.
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