Whether you’re considering becoming a physician assistant, or you’ve heard the term physician assistant and are unsure what it actually means, you probably have a simple question: “What Does a Physician Assistant Do?”
This is a very good question, as there are so many different titles flying around in the medical world—physician assistant, nursing aid, certified nursing aid, medical assistant, nurse practitioner. It can be very confusing. But a physician assistant is the closest, of all of these healthcare professionals, to a physician. To understand this, we have to answer that question, again, what does a physician assistant do.
A Physician Assistant Is Not A Doctor
First, it’s important to understand that a physician assistant is not a doctor, but works under the supervision of a doctor. Physician assistants, or PAs, work in all areas of medicine and surgery, and in all types of medical facilities, from physician’s offices to dental offices, hospitals and nursing homes.
All of this may be confusing you and making you ask, even more, “So what does a physician assistant DO?” The answer, quite simply, is a lot of everything. In most states PAs can have their own clinics; in underserved areas they often run clinics while doctors come in one or two days a week. They may make house calls or visit nursing homes to check on patients and report to the physician.
A Physician Assistant Works Under The Supervision Of A Doctor
What does a physician assistant do? Basically many of the tasks that a physician does. PAs see patients, treat minor injuries, prescribe medications (though in some states they are not allowed to prescribe controlled medications). PAs in surgical practice (with a surgical specialty and training) perform specific duties in the operating room (though not the surgery itself), and perform post-operative care.
What does a physician assistant do may almost be asked as what does a physician assistant not do. They’re not simply nurses with fancy titles, as they can treat and prescribe; they’re much closer to doctors without medical degrees. While there is a limit to what they are allowed to do, and they are supervised by doctors, physician assistants do have a great deal of medical training and knowledge and are very hands-on with patients.
Physician assistants in clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are the middle man between the physician and patients, allowing physicians to see many more patients and deliver a higher quality of care by giving patients highly skilled healthcare professionals who can tend to their needs.
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