A Physician Assistant (PA) is a healthcare professional licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs are educated in a medical model designed to compliment physician training. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, Physician Assistants:
- conduct physical exams
- diagnose and treat illnesses
- order and interpret tests
- counsel on preventive healthcare
- assist in surgery
- have prescriptive rights in all states
Within the physician/physician assistant relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA's practice may include education, research, and administrative services.
PAs practice in a variety of settings:
- physicians’ offices
- clinics, community health centers
- military and Veterans’ Administration installations
These practitioners are no longer solely primary care providers; the Physician Assistant scope of practice now includes all areas of medical specialties. There are physician assistants in surgery, neurology, pediatrics, obstetrics, oncology, geriatrics and other specialty areas. Patient care responsibilities have and will continue to increase as healthcare delivery systems change to address worldwide challenges. Physician Assistants are an integral part of today’s healthcare team.
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