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Become A Clinical Physician Assistant

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Working As A Clinical Physician Assistant

  • Getting Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Make Decisions

  • $157,626

    Average Salary

What Does A Clinical Physician Assistant Do

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients.

Duties

Physician assistants typically do the following:

  • Take or review patients’ medical histories
  • Examine patients
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests, such as x rays or blood tests
  • Diagnose a patient’s injury or illness
  • Give treatment, such as setting broken bones and immunizing patients
  • Educate and counsel patients and their families—for example, answering questions about how to care for a child with asthma
  • Prescribe medicine
  • Assess and record a patient’s progress
  • Research the latest treatments to ensure the quality of patient care
  • Conduct or participate in outreach programs; talking to groups about managing diseases and promoting wellness

Physician assistants work on teams with physicians or surgeons and other healthcare workers. Their specific duties and the extent to which they must be supervised by physicians or surgeons differ from state to state.

Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, including primary care and family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, and psychiatry. The work of physician assistants depends in large part on their specialty or the type of medical practice where they work. For example, a physician assistant working in surgery may close incisions and provide care before, during, and after the operation. A physician assistant working in pediatrics may examine a child and give routine vaccinations.

In some areas, especially rural and medically underserved communities, physician assistants may be the primary care providers at clinics where a physician is present only 1 or 2 days per week. In these locations, physician assistants collaborate with the physician as needed and as required by law.

Some physician assistants make house calls or visit nursing homes to treat patients.

Physician assistants are different from medical assistants. Medical assistants do routine clinical and clerical tasks and they do not practice medicine.

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How To Become A Clinical Physician Assistant

Physician assistants typically need a master’s degree from an accredited educational program. Earning that degree usually takes at least 2 years of full-time postgraduate study. All states require physician assistants to be licensed.

Education

Most applicants to physician assistant education programs already have a bachelor’s degree and some healthcare-related work experience. Although admissions requirements vary from program to program, most programs require 2 to 4 years of undergraduate coursework with a focus in science. Many applicants already have experience as registered nurses or as EMTs and paramedics before they apply to a physician assistant program.

Physician assistant education programs usually take at least 2 years of full-time study. About 200 education programs were accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) in 2014. Almost all of these accredited programs offer a master’s degree.

Physician assistant education includes classroom and laboratory instruction in subjects such as pathology, human anatomy, physiology, clinical medicine, pharmacology, physical diagnosis, and medical ethics. The programs also include supervised clinical training in several areas, including family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, and pediatrics.

Sometimes students serve in one or more clinical rotations in these areas under the supervision of a physician who is looking to hire a physician assistant. In this way, clinical rotations may lead to permanent employment.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states and the District of Columbia require physician assistants to be licensed. To become licensed, candidates must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). A physician assistant who passes the exam may use the credential “Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C).”

To keep their certification, physician assistants must complete 100 hours of continuing education every 2 years. The recertification exam is required every 10 years.

In addition, state licensure laws require physician assistants to hold an agreement with a supervising physician. Although the physician does not need to be onsite at all times, collaboration between physicians and physician assistants is required for practice.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Physician assistants must explain complex medical issues in a way that patients can understand. They must also effectively communicate with doctors and other healthcare workers to ensure that they provide the best possible patient care.

Compassion. Physician assistants deal with patients who are sick or injured and may be in extreme pain or distress. They must be able to treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.

Detail oriented. Physician assistants should be observant and have a strong ability to focus when evaluating and treating patients.

Emotional stability. Physician assistants, particularly those working in surgery or emergency medicine, should be able to work well under pressure. They must remain calm in stressful situations in order to provide quality care.

Problem-solving skills. Physician assistants need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They must be diligent when investigating complicated medical issues so that they can determine the best course of treatment for each patient.

Advancement

Some physician assistants pursue additional education in a specialty. Postgraduate educational programs are available in areas such as emergency medicine and psychiatry. To enter one of these programs, a physician assistant must be a graduate of an accredited program and be certified by the NCCPA.

As they gain greater clinical knowledge and experience, physician assistants can earn new responsibilities and higher wages. For example, experienced physician assistants may supervise other staff and physician assistant students or they may become an executive leader of a healthcare organization.

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Clinical Physician Assistant Jobs

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Clinical Physician Assistant Demographics

Gender

Female

60.7%

Male

37.7%

Unknown

1.6%
Ethnicity

White

60.1%

Hispanic or Latino

13.8%

Black or African American

11.3%

Asian

10.9%

Unknown

4.0%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

52.6%

Russian

5.3%

Chinese

5.3%

Vietnamese

5.3%

French

5.3%

Mandarin

5.3%

Swahili

2.6%

German

2.6%

Marathi

2.6%

Cantonese

2.6%

Gujarati

2.6%

Carrier

2.6%

Hindi

2.6%

Italian

2.6%
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Clinical Physician Assistant Education

Schools

South College

15.2%

University of Nebraska Medical Center

9.8%

Alderson Broaddus University

8.0%

Nova Southeastern University

6.3%

George Washington University

5.4%

University of Utah

5.4%

Saint Francis University

5.4%

Mountain State University

4.5%

Duke University

4.5%

Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania

4.5%

University of Florida

3.6%

King's College

3.6%

Barry University

3.6%

Stanford University

3.6%

Howard University

3.6%

West Liberty University

2.7%

Emory University

2.7%

YTI Career Institute - Capital Region

2.7%

Drexel University

2.7%

Midwestern University

2.7%
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Majors

Physician Assistant

41.1%

Medicine

10.7%

Health Sciences And Services

6.3%

Biology

5.8%

Nursing

5.8%

Business

4.7%

Medical Assisting Services

3.4%

Medical Clinical Sciences

3.1%

Public Health

2.9%

Health Care Administration

2.9%

Management

2.4%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

1.6%

Clinical Psychology

1.6%

Kinesiology

1.6%

Psychology

1.3%

Education

1.3%

Medical Technician

1.0%

Liberal Arts

1.0%

Alternative And Complementary Medicine And Medical Systems

0.8%

Physiology And Anatomy

0.8%
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Degrees

Masters

45.5%

Bachelors

22.2%

Other

16.1%

Doctorate

7.4%

Certificate

4.7%

Associate

3.6%

Diploma

0.4%
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Real Clinical Physician Assistant Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Clinical Physician Medical Partners of Jacksonville, LLC Orange Park, FL Sep 21, 2015 $350,000
Assistant Prof of Clinical Anesthesiology/Physician Surgeon University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL May 16, 2015 $273,000
Clinic Physician (Family/Sports Medicine) Fairview Health Services Elk River, MN Jul 01, 2015 $240,094
Clinic Physician (Family/Sports Medicine) Fairview Health Services Blaine, MN Jul 01, 2015 $240,094
Clinical Physician of Medical Oncology American Oncologic Hospital Egg Harbor, NJ Aug 01, 2013 $201,573 -
$240,000
Clinical Physician of Medical Oncology Fox Chase Cancer Center Medical Group Inc. Egg Harbor, NJ Aug 07, 2013 $201,573 -
$240,000
Physician (Emergency Medicine)/Clinical Affiliate Wake Forest University Health Sciences Winston-Salem, NC Jul 01, 2014 $196,877
Clinic Physician Lawrence Memorial Hospital Walnut Ridge, AR Jan 07, 2016 $190,000
Clinic Physician (Family/Sports Medicine) Fairview Health Services Elk River, MN Jul 01, 2012 $186,306
Clinic Physician Corry Memorial Hospital Association Corry, PA Feb 12, 2013 $185,000
Clinical Physician The Neurology Foundation, Inc. Providence, RI Jun 21, 2014 $185,000
Physician-Clinical Provider Banner Arizona Medical Clinic Phoenix, AZ Aug 10, 2010 $180,000
Clinic Physician Lawrence Memorial Hospital Walnut Ridge, AR Jul 01, 2013 $175,000
Clinic Physician Lawrence Memorialhospital Walnut Ridge, AR Sep 29, 2015 $175,000
VIS. Assist. Professor of Clinical Surgery/Physician Surgeon University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL Jan 05, 2015 $175,000
Physician-Clinical Provider Banner Health Fallon, NV Sep 13, 2012 $175,000
Physician-Clinical Provider Banner Health Fallon, NV Oct 01, 2011 $175,000
Clinic Physician (Adult Diabetes) Joslin Diabetes Center, Inc. Boston, MA Aug 01, 2015 $160,000
Clinic Physician Fairview Health Services Zimmerman, MN Sep 01, 2010 $160,000
Clinic Physician Fairview Health Services Zimmerman, MN Aug 30, 2010 $160,000
Clinical Physician Iowa City Department of Veterans Affairs Medical C Iowa City, IA Sep 01, 2010 $155,252
Clinical Physician Iowa City Department of Veterans Affairs Medical C Iowa City, IA Oct 30, 2010 $145,255
Clinic Physician Corry Memorial Hospital Association Corry, PA Jan 01, 2010 $130,000
Assistant Prof of Clinical Peds/Physician Surgeon University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL May 15, 2016 $128,000

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Top Skills for A Clinical Physician Assistant

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  1. Medicine
  2. Clinical Rotations
  3. Office Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Recruited to administer quality patient care in outpatient family practice specializing in family medicine and chronic disease management.
  • Obtained clinical sites, arranged clinical rotations for students, and assisted in non-medical teaching responsibilities.
  • Participated in in-office procedures such as excisions and suturing.
  • Performed histories and physicals; administered immunizations; treated illnesses and performed minor surgery.
  • Contributed to Duke Family Practice Residents' training by developing training modules and delivering lectures on coding and reimbursement issues.

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Top Clinical Physician Assistant Employers

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