If you are looking for information on what it takes to become a Physician Assistant, this is a great place to start. Physician Assistants are considered one of the fastest-growing, competitive and lucrative occupations in America along with Nurse Practitioners. CNN has already ranked the Physician Assistant occupation at the second position in 2010′s Top 100 jobs in America. U.S. Department of Labor has predicted that Physician Assistant jobs will increase by 27% through the year 2016. Other staffing and recruiting firms have also seen PA and NP jobs grow in demand, most dramatically beginning in the latter half of 2011 as murmurs of physician shortages grew louder and louder.
For those who don’t know much about this profession and would like to learn more about Physician Assistant careers, let’s explore this topic a bit. A Physician Assistant is a medical professional that is trained to work under the guidance and supervision of a Physician. Physician Assistants are trained to help physicians in different medical procedures like ordering and interpreting medical reports, diagnostic care, conducting physical exams, treating and managing illness and injury and writing medical prescriptions. Of course, we now know that due to several factors, including the recent healthcare industry changes such as the Affordable Care bill, we actually are facing a shortage of doctors in our health care system. The Council on Graduate Medical Education predicts a shortage of 85,000 medical doctors by 2020. The only solution to this problem is to train and hire more Physician Assistants to reduce the shortage. PAs cannot completely replace doctors, but can help them in saving time by performing 70-80% of their work. Also, it takes less time to become a Physician Assistant than a doctor.
So, how to become a Physician Assistant? This profession is in high demand and is a very highly competitive profession. There are several stages involved if you are serious about becoming a PA. To become a PA, you need to graduate from an accredited PA program, of which there are currently over 150 accredited educational institutes in the United States that offer programs at the level of Bachelor’s, Master’s or Associate’s degree. Most of the educational institutes offer programs at the Master’s level. This means you need to have a Bachelor’s degree at the very least in order to apply for the Physician Assistant program. Other than the Bachelor’s degree, there are a many other requirements to apply for a PA position, all of which vary from program to program, as well as what the employer is seeking. Much of the initial program requires an applicant to have courses completed in Anatomy, Math, Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biology, Microbiology and English. You will also need to have significant health-related work experience, which you will want to have anyway to make sure . The amount of experience can vary from a couple of thousand hours to several years. You may also need to pass additional exams such as the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or TOEFL (if you are an international student). Almost all programs will also require applicants to submit reference letters from their previous supervisors or managers if you are applying elsewhere. These requirements may vary from program to program. So, it’s recommended to check the requirements for the PA program closest to you in order to find out more about the prerequisites.
If you already meet the requirements for, and are looking for PA related opportunities, there are many good job boards such as Career Builder and Indeed.com that are a good resource. We have also found StaffPointe.com, to have some of the most recent Physician Assistant jobs listed on their website.