you have an interest in the practice of medicine? Do you desire to
make a daily difference in people’s lives? Are you in need of
continual intellectual stimulation? If the answer is yes to these
questions, you’ve come to the right place to explore a career as a
2010, CNN Money ranked the position of physician assistant as the
second best job in America. CNN cited many reasons for their pick,
including no expensive medical school or stressful internship,
freedom to move within the field, and a great deal of autonomy when
it comes to patient care.
enjoy freedom in their work, a great deal of responsibility, strong
earning potential and a rewarding career, not to mention a high
probability of employment.
who are trained to care for approximately 80% of the conditions for
which most patients seek primary care and are economically imperative
to the healthcare team. PAs are well positioned to help fill the need
for the projected shortage of physicians, and to provide much needed
medical services in small towns and rural areas.
strong increase in demand for PAs is predicted, and as practicing
physician assistants continue to accept new colleagues into the
workforce, the profession continues to solidify its role in the
Education & Training
assistants receive a broad medical education. Because of the close
working relationship the PAs have with physicians, PA education is
designed to complement medical training. Criteria for admission
to a PA program include previous health care experience and
completion of a variety of basic science as well as other general
than 100 PA educational programs exist nationwide. They
are accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education
for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and sponsored by schools of
allopathic or osteopathic medicine, colleges and universities
affiliated with appropriate clinical teaching facilities and medical
education facilities of the federal government.
admission requirements for PA programs include at least two years of
college and prior clinical health care experience. The typical
applicant has previously received a bachelor’s degree and over four
years of health care experience.
first year of a two-year PA program includes classroom study in
behavioral/social sciences, anatomy, biochemistry, clinical
laboratory medicine, clinical medicine, health promotion, medical
ethics, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology, and
psychology. The second year encompasses over 2,000 hours of clinical
rotations in family practice and other medical and surgical
specialties such as emergency medicine, family practice, internal
medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedics, pediatrics, and
surgery. The average PA program curriculum is 111 weeks in
length, compared to 155 weeks for medical school.
graduation from an accredited PA program, candidates for the
profession must sit for the certifying examination developed by the
National Board of Medical Examiners, and administered by the National
Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
Wisconsin requires candidates to pass this examination prior to
licensure as a PA.
assistants must complete 100 hours of continuing medical education
every two years, and pass a re-certification exam every six years to
maintain national certification.
education continues throughout a provider’s career with mandatory
continuing medical education as well as the ongoing professional
interactions between health care providers.