In 2009, The U.S. News and World Reports stated that one of the most worthwhile and lucrative career choices was that of being a physician assistant. Working as a medical health care professional who gives therapeutic, diagnostic and preventative services while under the supervision of a licensed doctor, a physician assistant can make approximately $90,000 a year, depending on where they are employed in the United States. Since the aging of the population is expected to continue over the next twenty years, the demand for doctors will continue to increase, along with the need for them to hire assistance with their expanding practices.
If you are yearning for a career as a physician assistant, you will need to finish a pre-medical series of courses at a four year college before undertaking the physician assistant programs available throughout the United States. In addition, a minimum of two years experience working in the health care field is necessary to obtain a Bachelor's degree. You can then apply for physician assistant programs (there are at present 140 accredited programs available) by writing to the universities or colleges of your choice. Generally, these programs take approximately two and a half years to complete before you are given the title of physician assistant, and must be accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). There is also a written examination you will have to pass called the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). To retain your certified status as a P.A., you will have to take and pass one hundred hours of continuing medical education every two years; however, you must be re-certified every six years.
Most of the graduate physician assistant programs leading to master's degrees specialize in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), Medical Science, or Health Science; some require a GRE or MCAT scores in order to be accepted. Some physician assistant programs extend clinical doctorate degrees (Doctor of Science Physician Assistant) with certification being controlled by the professional medical committees in individual states. Although P.A.'s do not need a doctorate in order to practice, many continue their education to obtain PhD's or a Doctor of Health Science (DHSc) degree.
As a student of a physician assistant program, you will be studying a variety of medical related topics such as pathology, anatomy, pharmacology, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and microbiology, just to name a few. While doctors are required to complete at least three years of residency after finishing their education, physician assistants do not have to do this; however, if you are involved in a specialized area of medical training, you may be able to participate in a residency program for Past who want to further their education in that field.
As a graduate of any of the many physician assistant programs available to those who qualify, you will be certified to perform physical exams on patients, fill out prescriptions, treat illnesses, and even sometimes assist your supervising doctor in certain minor surgeries. There is great flexibility involved in the P.A. field, and employment can be found in just about any branch of the medical health field.