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Physician Assistants provide medical care services to patients under the supervision and responsibility of a doctor of medicine or osteopathy. Physician Assistants do not always work directly with the supervising physician, but they can do only what is permitted by the physician and the laws of the state in which they practice.
Physician Assistants may:
Take detailed medical histories and perform physical exams
Order lab tests, x-rays, and other diagnostic studies as directed by the physician
Identify normal and abnormal findings
Make tentative diagnoses and decisions about management and treatment of patients
Start therapy or prescribe medications with physician approval
Suture wounds, assist in surgery, apply and remove casts
Make hospital rounds to observe, update charts, and order therapy
Assist in providing continuing care in patients' homes, at a nursing home or at other extended health care facilities
Coordinate the work of technical assistants
Counsel patients and families on treatment, prevention, and drugs
Observe techniques and keep up with medical advances
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079.364-018 PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS provide medical care services to patients under the supervision and responsibility of a doctor of medicine or osteopathy. Physician Assistants do not always work directly with the supervising physician, but they can do only what is permitted by the physician and the laws of the state in which they practice.
Physician Assistants may have special training in a particular medical specialty and be known as orthopedic physician assistant, surgeon's assistant, urologic physician's assistant, gynecologist's assistant, community health medic, and child health associate.
In addition to learning about these specialties, you may also find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration Scripts:
Physician Assistants usually work in physicians' offices, clinics, or hospitals under the supervision of a licensed doctor of medicine or osteopathy who is responsible for their performance. Some Physician Assistants work in satellite offices, away from direct supervision of the physician, and communicate with the physician by telephone or radio. They may work alone or with other personnel, such as interns, registered nurses, and licensed practical nurses. They may coordinate the work of technicians and medical assistants.
They usually work in clean, well lighted, and well-ventilated settings. However, they may be exposed to infection, diseases, and contamination.
Physician Assistants usually work a 40-hour week or they may work the same hours as the physicians for whom they work. They may be on call 24 hours a day and work as many as 60 to 80 hours a week.
The amount of traveling required depends on whether the assistant works in an urban or rural area. Assistants in urban areas usually travel very little, while those in rural areas may have to travel considerable distances between the physician's office and hospitals and clinics in the area. Travel expenses may be reimbursed.
Physician Assistants must provide their own basic instruments, and a set may cost from $150 to $250.
Physician Assistants may belong to the American Academy of Physician Assistants , the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants and the Association of Physician Assistants in Cardiovascular Surgery , professional organizations which represent graduates as well as current students of recognized Physician Assistant programs. Members of these associations pay dues.
You Should Prefer:
You Should Be Able To:
Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve:
A patient is only allowed to use 100 newtons of force to lift themselves after surgery. If a person has a mass of 50 kilograms, should they engage in the physical therapy of lifting themselves off the bed?
Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend:
Asthma is a respiratory disease involving the bronchial tubes, which carry air from the windpipe to the tiny air sacs in the lungs.
Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce:
You should be able to write a report to the physician you are working under, explaining the symptoms a patient is experiencing.
Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate:
You should be able to decide the best treatment for a patient that is suffering from a specific disease.
The State of Michigan requires a license for this occupation. Click here for "Michigan Licensed Occupations," see Physician‘s Assistant for specific licensing information.
NOTE: An Associate Degree (two years of study beyond High School) or a Bachelor's Degree (four years of study beyond High School) may qualify a person for this occupation.
The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in this Career Exploration Script:
0700 CAREERS , 0900 COMMUNICATIONS , 1000 COMPUTERS , 1500 FOODS & NUTRITION , 1800 HEALTH & HEALTH CAREERS , 2200 MATH , 2900 SCIENCE , 3300 TECHNOLOGY
***VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS***
There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this Career Exploration Script.
136 PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT TRAINING
Physician Assistants Training programs prepare previously experienced health care personnel to assist licensed physician-employers in a variety of health care settings. Master's degree programs such as radiology, neurology, and ophthalmology are for professionals in medicine wanting to specialize. Graduates are eligible to take the National Certifying Examination conducted by the National Board of Medical Examiners. The curriculum consists of courses in the basic medical sciences and clinical clerkships.
Courses vary from school to school but may include:
Although this occupation has apprenticeship programs available in Michigan, they are limited in number. See the Sources of More Information below for name, address and phone number of the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.
***MILITARY TRAINING PROGRAMS***
Please check the Military web site at http://www.myfuture.com .
Physician assistants provide routine health care for patients, freeing physicians to concentrate on more serious health problems. Physician assistants examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the supervision of medical doctors.
What They Do
Physician assistants in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
Graduation from an accredited training program for physician assistant that is recognized by the services is normally required to enter this occupation. Depending upon the service, however, military job training may be available.
Physician assistants work in hospitals and clinics on land and aboard ships.
Job training, when available from the services, consists of about 40 weeks of classroom instruction, including practice in providing patient health care. Course content typically includes:
Civilian physician assistants work in hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices, and nursing homes. They perform duties similar to those performed by military physician assistants.
Helpful attributes include:
The number of Physician Assistants employed is unknown. The services need new physician assistants each year. After job training, physician assistants provide health care under close supervision. With experience, they work more independently, although they remain under the supervision of a doctor. In time, they may advance to management positions in the military health care field.
Volunteer work in a hospital or other health facility may help you decide if you are interested in this occupation. Related health occupations and the Peace Corps may offer work experience that is similar to that of a Physician Assistant. Courses in the basic sciences or first aid may help you explore the type of background you would need for this occupation. Postsecondary programs in Physician Assistant training and military service may offer opportunities for experience as well.
School-to-Work opportunities include:
job shadowing experiences
touring a local Physician Assistant employer
volunteer work with a Physician Assistant employer
community service work with an agency
Most Physician Assistants enter this field by completing a training program. Assistance in locating a position may be obtained from the school's placement office. For positions in government, apply to local civil service offices. Graduates who belong to the American Academy of Physician Assistants or state affiliations may use their national employment listing services. In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as:
You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services.
A Physician Assistant's earnings may vary according to the size and geographic location of the employing physician's practice as well as the individual Assistant's education, training, degree of specialization, scope of duties, and hours worked.
Nationally, the annual salaries (late 2010) of Physician Assistants employed by hospitals and related institutions were between $79,600 and $91,900, with an average of $85,500. The median yearly earnings of "all" workers in the U.S. were $38,428 in 2009.
In Michigan, Physician Assistants who were employed by hospitals earned between $81,474 and $99,840 per year in late 2010. The average salary was $89,710.
Annual salaries (late 2010) of Physician Assistants who worked for government agencies were:
Physician Assistants may receive paid vacations, holidays, sick leave, insurance, and retirement plans. These benefits are usually paid for, at least in part, by the employer. Some receive malpractice insurance. Others receive assistance in tuition costs for continuing education.
Although it happens rarely, Assistants who want to become physicians must acquire the formal education needed to meet state licensing requirements. Many Physician Assistants work in allied health occupations and obtain the required training and education to become licensed Physician Assistants.
Nationally, there were about 74,800 Physician Assistants employed in 2008. Employment of Physician Assistants is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2018. The industry distribution for Physician Assistants looked like this:
To find employers, click Employer/Business Locator.
The increasing numbers and longevity of the elderly population (who has a great need for health care services), health care related to alcohol and drug abuse, heart disease, cancer, AIDS, and other illnesses have resulted in an expansion of services in the health industry. Health care providers are demanding more Physician Assistants especially since Medicare and Medicaid policies governing the coverage of Physician Assistants services in hospitals and other institutional settings encourage their hiring. There is a shortage of Physician Assistants.
There are approximately 3,125 Physician Assistants employed in Michigan. Most Physician Assistants worked in urban areas for family physicians or specialists.
The employment of Physician Assistants in Michigan is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2018. An average of 150 annual openings is expected, with 90 due to growth and 60 to replacement of those who retire, die, or leave the labor force for other reasons. Additional openings will occur as workers change jobs or occupations.
The overall aging of the Michigan population will result in the need for more health services, which should have a favorable impact on the employment of Physician Assistants. The best opportunities may be with the growing Health Maintenance Organizations and in rural areas and inner cities where medical services are often not sufficient to meet the demand. In recent years, there has been a relatively large increase in the number of Physician Assistants licensed in Michigan.
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