A physician’s assistant is classified as a mid-level medical service provider. This classification comes from being between health professionals and medical professionals, in the level of education and certification which they as providers receive. Care for a patient is the primary role of a physician’s assistant. Their duties are similar to that of a medical doctor or physician. However, their practices come with some nationally mandated restrictions. For example, most states do not allow a physician’s assistant to dispense or write scripts for controlled substances.
Physician’s assistants are given the primary role of examining a patient. These highly educated individuals cover much of the basic responsibilities of a physician in his or her regular practice. This frees up the physician to be able to address more serious cases, while each patient will still is receiving focused one-on-one attention and care. Another important part of the physician assistant’s practice is working with patient’s to create illness prevention plans, as well as creating a strategic plan for recovery from surgery or an extended illness.
Dependent upon the location at which a physician’s assistant works, he or she may work very closely with the physician, or he or she may carry out his or her duties with very little guidance from the physician. Regardless of what situation a physician’s assistant works in, the reality is that they are afforded more medical power and flexibility than most other medical professionals. Each practice under which a physician’s assistant is employed will have some form of a physician’s assistant’s agreement which defines the roll and the limits of their activities in what is known as a “Physician’s Practice Agreement.” In this agreement specific boundaries for both the physician and the physician’s assistant will be outlined.
To become a physician’s assistant an undergraduate degree, along with a Master’s degree from an accredited institution is required. Qualification must include physician training and not nursing training. The National Commission on Certification of Physician’s Assistants (NCCPA) can directly aid those seeking certification at this level. The NCCPA can also assist with job placement along with guiding applicants as to the exact requirements for license in each state.
Physician Assistants can focus on a variety of medical areas of expertise, and are in great demand. With the constant flux and change of the healthcare industry there are many who feel that the physician assistant is the fundamental element of the solution to the lack of doctors. The American Academy of Physician’s Assistants (AAPA) works to aid in the professional work of physician’s assistants across the country by lobbying for laws pertaining to this profession.