Physician Assistant

Thesis: Physician assistants are well-recognized and highly sought-after members of the health care team who, with doctors, provide quality care to patients. In order to do that, training, hard work, and a good education are required. I. As history says, physician assistants have always been a much needed commodity in health care. A. Who came up with the idea for a physician assistant? 1. Dr. Eugene A. Stead, Jr. came up with the idea in 1965. 2. He was chairman of the Department of Medicine at Duke University. B. Why was there a need for physician assistants? 1.

There was a shortage and uneven distribution of primary care physicians. 2. He selected Navy corpsmen who received considerable medical training during their military service in Vietnam. He based the curriculum on the fast-track training of doctors during World War II. II. Physician assistants are skilled health care practitioners who offer many common medical services. A. Physician assistants have many demanding responsibilities. 1. Physician assistants can collect historical data, order lab tests, interpret lab results, read EKG’s, teach and counsel patients, assist physicians in rounds, and record patient progress under a physician’s supervision.

2. Physician assistants also have patient contact such as physical exams, suturing of wounds, assisting in surgery, giving injections and immunizations, venipuncture, applying casts, and prescribing medications all under a physician’s supervision. B. Physician assistants have training to care for eight out of ten people who visit a family practitioner. C. What does the job involve and what are your limitations set by the doctor? III. While physician assistants can do many things, there are differences between them and doctors.

A. Besides the title, doctors and physician assistants have slightly different responsibilities. 1. Physician assistants practice medicine with the supervision of a physician while a doctor is an independent practitioner. 2. The doctors have complete responsibility for the care of the patient. Physician assistants share the responsibility. 3. Doctors also make themselves available for the more difficult and complex procedures. B. The main difference between a physician assistant and a doctor is education.

1. The Physician Assistant Program is about two-thirds of the time one would spend in medical school. 2. Physician assistants don’t have an internship or a residency. IV. One of the most important things a physician assistant can have is a good education. A. The first two years of college are very important. 1. A physician assistant will take a college curriculum and have classes like English. 2. They will also take many courses in science like biology and chemistry. B. A Physician Assistant Program is very intensive but well worth it. 1. The first year includes basic science, behavioral science and clinically related didactic courses.

2. The second year includes clinical rotations in a variety of areas such as internal medicine, family medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, psychiatry, emergency medicine and geriatrics. C. Certification is absolutely necessary in becoming a physician assistant. 1. After completion of the Physician Assistant Program, you are eligible to take the certifying examination of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. 2. This is required. You must retest every six years to keep you Physician Assistant Certification. D.

What kind of education do you need to be a successful PA and what type of education do you have? V. The outlook for physician assistants is extremely promising. A. The salary for a physician assistant is good, but can vary. 1. Income varies by specialty, practice setting, geographical location and years of experience. 2. In 1998, the median earnings were $47,090. The middle 50% earned $25,110 – $71,450 a year. The lowest 10% received less than $18,600. The highest 10% received more than $86,760. 3. Physician assistants in full-time clinical practice in 1998 earned about.

$62,200. For first year grads the salary was $54,000. B. What is the average salary for an experienced physician assistant? For one starting out? C. Do physician assistants in specific fields make more money? What fields? D. The field of a physician assistant is growing rapidly. 1. In January 1999, the AAPA said there were about 34,200 certified PA’s in clinical practice. 2. This profession though relatively new has grown amazingly fast. In 1970 there were fewer than 100 PA’s. 3. The U. S. Department of Labor predicts a 44% growth rate by 2000.

E. Do you feel the demand for PA’s is rising or falling? What are some things a person can do to be successful besides a good education? VI. Working conditions for a physician assistant are good, but they can vary. A. A physician assistant may work 40-50 hours a week and may be on call and have evening hours. Some may work 24 hour shifts. All depends on the physician you work under. B. Some physician assistants may work in a comfortable, well-lit environment. Others may stand in surgery for long periods or do considerable walking.