Individuals studying the physician assistant (PA) program have a future of working with physicians from different fields and do similar work done by doctors (under doctor's supervision). A PA can help doctors examine patients and obtain their medical history, diagnose, provide lab request orders, assist in major operations, conduct minor surgeries, record progress notes, counsel patients, carry out order of main physicians and prescribe medications (if allowed).
The practice of PA is governed by the physician in charge of them and by the law. An example of such law that governs PA practice is medication prescription. Some states allow such but some others entrust the prescribing of medication task only to physicians.
The course will take 2-4 years to complete depending on the student's schedule. Full-time students can finish the program in 2 years and those that are working can only get minimal load of subjects which will make them finish the course in about 4 years. One cannot just enroll in any school or institution offering the program. It is because there are accredited institutions approved by the government and the PA accrediting body. The accrediting body for the PA program is the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
In order to qualify for taking the course, one should have a degree on the prerequisite studies required to enroll in a physician assistant program. Such studies include biological sciences, social science, medical terminology, nutrition, anatomy, computer sciences, etc. Those professionals that are working in the health care field are good candidates of being eligible to enroll in a PA course.
After completion of the course, the student needs to take a licensing exam to become a licensed physician assistant before practicing in the healthcare field. The exam is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The salary of a physician assistant is competitive. He or she can earn from $70,000-$100,000 annually. Higher salary can be obtained depending on the specialty and work experience.