What is a Physician Assistant?

General Physician Assistant duties and training

Working under the direct supervision of Physicians, a Physician Assistant takes patient histories, performs physical examinations, diagnoses and treats illnesses, gives medical advice, counsels patients, sets fractures, assists in surgery, and orders and interprets diagnostic tests.

Physician Assistants (PA's) are trained in the medical model. This model means similar to the way that physician's are trained in medical school. PA's come from various backgrounds of medicine, for example, Medical Technologists, Paramedics, Nurses, Phlebotomists, Medical Assistants, Radiology Technicians, etc. PA's receive 16 months of didactic training followed be 12 months of clinical training (clinical rotations) at Grand Valley State University. PA's are dependent practitioners meaning they cannot practice without a physician's license.

 

What are the common settings at where Physician Assistants work?

Physician assistants (PA's) are found in all areas of medicine.

  • Family Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics
  • Gynecology
  • Surgery or surgical subspecialties
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency Medicine

Physician assistants receive a broad education in medicine. Their education is ongoing after graduation through continuing medical education requirements and continual interaction with physicians and other health care providers.

Page last modified July 27, 2011