8. Become a Physician Assistant?

“How to become a Physician Assistant?” is gaining popularity these days because of the increasing demand of Physician Assistants in the health care system. It is regarded as one of the top, fastest-growing and high-salary occupations in the United States. It has already gain a lot of media attention and has been ranked at the second position in the 100 best jobs of 2010 in America by CNN. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Physician Assistant jobs will rise by 27% through the year 2016. For those who don’t have any idea about what is a Physician Assistant and how to become one, let’s throw some light onto these topics.

A PA is a highly trained professional who works in a clinical setting under the direction supervision of a physician or a surgeon. PAs examine and treat patients, check medical reports, write prescriptions and also order and analyze laboratory results. They reduce a physician’s work by helping them in different clinical procedures such as diagnosing and treating minor ailments. PAs are also trained to handle different clinical managerial tasks like ordering medical equipments, supplies, training and supervising other workers in clinic. They are a great help to physicians as they save time which can be utilized to attend other important medical emergencies.

As we all know, we are facing a shortage of doctors in our health system. If we have to get any type of medical surgery done, there is a big waiting period because there are not enough doctors to handle patients. It takes a long time with a lot of studying (which not a lot of people go for) to become a physician. However, to become a PA one requires only 2 years of study. With this problem on hand, it is an obvious solution to hire more PAs to fix the problem in our health system. There is no doubt that physicians can’t be replaced by PAs entirely, but the assistants can help the physicians by performing same duties as them except for critical cases.

Now, the next big question is how to become a Physician Assistant? There are a lot of steps involved in becoming a certified Physician Assistant and it requires a lot of planning. Currently, there are 159 PA programs accredited by Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). These programs are offered by allied health schools, medical schools, academic health centers and colleges. Majority of the PA programs take 2 years to complete and are offered at the Master’s level. This means you need to have a Bachelor’s degree to apply for the program. There are a lot of other requirements to apply for the program:

– Prerequisite courses: Successful completion of Anatomy, Biology, English, College Math, Humanities, Microbiology, Organic chemistry, Sociology and Psychology courses.

– Health-related work experience: Several thousand hours to several years of patient contact experience as a paramedic, nurse or EMT.

– Graduate Record Exam(GRE).

After graduating from an accredited program, you need to pass the Physician Assistants National Certifying Examination (PANCE) in order to practice as a PA and to receive the national certification.