In all but three states, PA’s are allowed to perform many of the same tasks as the physician, including writing prescriptions. They are required by law to work under the direction of a qualified physician, however in areas where physicians are not often present; this can be accomplished in a number of ways.
In some cases, the supervision may occur with the supervising physician present only a couple of days per week. In such situations, the physicians assistant is given more flexibility to make decisions, judgment calls and perform more extensive duties.
The supervising physician is usually available by telephone for consultations, however persons who are interested in becoming a PA should check out the requirements and regulations of their home state. Each state regulates the extent to which a physician assistant is allowed to practice and exactly what duties they may and may not perform.
In addition to working family healthcare and in general healthcare practices, PA’s may specialize in pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine, geriatrics and a variety of other fields.
Salaries are generally quite high for physicians assistants, even those practicing in their first year. Depending on the location and area of expertise, they can make substantial money.
Salaries for a physician assistant, and other medical positions, in correctional facilities tend to be quite good and include excellent benefits.
Employment Prospects for a Physician Assistant
PA positions can be found in doctor offices, hospitals, rural and inner city clinics. Other employment possibilities include education facilities and outpatient care centers.
One employment prospect where the availability of positions may tend to be on the rise is in correctional facilities. State and federal prisons are mandated by law to provide medical care for prisoners.
Job Search for a Physician Assistant
Employers interested in hiring PA’s rarely advertise open positions in classified advertisements. These types of positions are generally found through networking, professional and medical job boards and databases.
In addition, a graduating physician assistant may be able to already have jobs lined up through previous employers. A large number of physician assistants enroll in PA programs after prior work experience as nurses, physical therapists and paramedics; just to name a few.
Cover Letters for a Physician Assistant
The cover letter for an individual applying for work as a PA should focus on their commitment to patient care and quality of service. If the candidate studied under any renowned physicians or completed any residential internships at prestigious institutions, this should be mentioned as well.
Resumes for a Physician Assistant
A chronological resume works best for candidates looking for work as PA’s. Education and work experience are crucial in this line of work and should be displayed prominently on the resume.
Training & Qualifications for a Physician Assistant
Depending upon the PA program, students may be required to have two years of prior college as a pre-requisite. Some programs require prospective students to have a bachelor’s degree before receiving admittance to the PA program.
A PA program typically includes classroom instruction in many health related areas such as anatomy, microbiology, pharmacology, etc.
Students also often work in clinical rotations prior to the end of the program in order to obtain real world experience and are required to pass a certification exam known as the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.
Individuals who are interested in practicing in a specific medical area can specialize by enrolling in residential programs. These are geared towards areas such as rural primary care, occupational medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine and many other fields.
A Physician Assistant is further required to complete a minimum of 100 continuing education hours every two years and re-certify every six years.