A physician assistant is the one who works under the guidance or supervision of a physician and performs almost all the jobs that a physician does. The pay scale largely depends on specialization and the years of work experience. Read on to know more about this job profile…
Physician assistant, more commonly known as PA, is a medical professional who practices medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. The duties performed by him are almost similar to those of a physician. Many a time, physician assistants are confused with medical assistants. However, both these profiles have different sets of duties to perform.
Though a physician assistant can perform all the jobs of a physician, he/she is not a doctor. According to a recent survey, this profession will be increasingly preferred in near future and even the salary range would be possitively accelerated. A summary on this job profile is given below, along with the salary range.
Job Description of a Physician Assistant
To become a physician assistant one needs to complete a full-time education program for two years and have experience in a health-related field. Basically, one is trained under a licensed physician after completion of the required education. The training includes diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic health care services. They can also work in a health care team. The array of duties performed by them depends on the rules stated by the government of that country. In some states, they are allowed to prescribe medicines to the patient. They make diagnosis and analyze lab or X-ray reports. Many a time, their duties are framed by the physician himself. PAs have wide scope to work in the area of their choice. These areas include,
- General internal medicine
- Family medicine
- Emergency medicine
Usually a physician assistant works for at least 40 hours a week. If working in hospitals, they may have to attend calls and work in emergency situations. Their duty is to learn and store the medical history of patients, and examine and provide appropriate treatment with the help of the supervising physician. In most rural areas, doctors are available only for two to three days of a week, and physician assistants play an important role at such times. With good experience, a PA can reduce a lot of work of the doctor and allow him to concentrate on complicated cases.
As discussed earlier, the physician assistant pay scale is governed by various factors. These include the education, work location, work experience and the area of specialization. According to a survey made by the American Medical Association in the year 2008, it has been observed that the salary range for physician assistants with good work experience is somewhere between $119,000 – $200,000. The average salary was about $89,987. One more survey made in the year 2006 by the American Academy of Physician Assistants states that the average salary of a PA who worked for full-time in clinical practice was $80,356.
Those who work in medical staffing firms earn more as compared to those working with specialty hospitals. The average salary figures of such PAs were $102,170 and $90,130 respectively. The location of the work also matters a lot when it comes to the salary range. Some of the states like Alaska and Nevada offer wholesome salaries. While some states like Nebraska and North Dakota, have highest concentration of physician assistants. The table given below gives the average salary for the year 2007.
|Workplace||Average Annual Income|
|Critical Care Medicine||$79,372|
In the year 2006, the average annual salary of first year graduate physician assistant was $69,410. They are provided certain benefits by their supervising physician, like health insurance, retirement plans, paid holidays, etc. Thus, it is clear that a good education and work experience can fetch you a handsome salary in this profession.
Physician assistant is a good job profile for students who cannot attend medical schools but want to become health practitioners. The pay scale increases if one has all the necessary requirements of a good physician assistant. Above given numbers related to the physician assistant salary range are approximate and may change under different circumstances.