The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of physician assistants practicing in the United States will grow by 31% in the next ten years.
The scope of a physician assistant’s duties varies by local laws, experience, education, and specialty. They can diagnose medical issues, form treatment plans, prescribe medications, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and counsel patients on preventative care. Some physician assistants can perform procedures and assist in surgery.
Most states require physician assistants to have an agreement with a physician to practice. The physician does not always need to be onsite, but close collaboration is a consistent requirement.
Where a physician assistant works depends on their experience and specialty. Many work in hospitals, clinics, urgent care facilities, nursing homes, community health centers, correctional institutions, and serve in the armed forces.
Overall, the demand for healthcare services is projected to continue climbing as the average age of the United States population rises. Doctors are in low supply, and physician assistants can perform many of their duties with less training requirements.
More than 200 programs are accredited by the ARC-PA and the vast majority are master’s degree programs. Most programs are 27 months long and require 2,000 hours of clinical rotations.