The Duties and Responsibilities of a Physician Assistant

Updated on April 28, 2022
The Duties and Responsibilities of a Physician Assistant

One of the most crucial jobs in the medical field is being a physician assistant. You may not be familiar with it, but you’ve almost certainly met one if you’ve been in a hospital. If you’re interested in a medical career, learn about the duties and responsibilities of a physician assistant and why it might be right for you.

What Is a Physician Assistant?

Before we get into the duties of a Physician Assistant (PA), we’ll explain what exactly a PA is. PAs first emerged in American healthcare in the 1960s due to a shortage of doctors in some areas, predominantly in rural communities. Physician assistants were stopgap medical professionals who didn’t require the same rigorous education and training as physicians but could still perform many essential medical procedures.

In the decades since, the role of the PA in the medical profession has only grown as more specialties use them to perform primary duties for patients. A PA can work in any specialty in today’s healthcare industry, from cardiology and oncology to pediatrics and emergency medicine. They provide valuable knowledge and skills to everyday patient care and are integral to many medical facilities.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Physician Assistant

The duties and responsibilities of PAs depend on the exact specialty and field they work in, but many end up with the same responsibilities in different ways. Examples of the daily duties of a PA include:

  • Diagnosing illnesses
  • Performing patient exams
  • Assisting in surgery
  • Prescribing medications
  • Advising patients on healthy practices

As you can see, these duties are integral to a medical facility properly and expertly treating and advising patients in a timely and accurate manner. You may not realize it, but PAs are just as vital to a hospital as nurses and doctors.

Benefits of Choosing a Career as a PA

If you’re thinking of choosing a profession in the medical field, there are many benefits to becoming a PA. As a PA, you can start your career much faster than a typical physician, as many PA programs only last 28 months at most.

PAs can start working months after graduation instead of years of internships and residencies like regular doctors. As a PA, you’ll also have the option to choose any specialty you’d like, from general surgery and emergency medicine to family practice.

Plus, no matter which specialty you choose, it’s very likely there’s a need for PAs in that practice in hospitals across the country. Demand means more competitive salaries and more opportunities for career growth in the field. PAs can get to work faster, work in their chosen field at a competitive wage, and find potential for upward mobility.

There are more duties and responsibilities of a physician assistant than we could fit in one article, but we’ve given you a brief breakdown of the primary focuses. If you’re interested in a flexible, well-paying career that allows you to help people daily, consider becoming a PA.