Physician Assistant

Career Profile:

Physician Assistant

A physician assistant is a practitioner who examines patients under the supervision of a physician in internal medicine or other specialty area.
As a physician assistant, you will see a panel of patients who may be solely on your panel or under the care of a medical doctor. Your role is to examine patients and make decisions with regards to their health care. You make diagnoses, write and refill prescriptions, review paperwork, develop treatment plans, and order and interpret lab results.  A medical doctor may cosign on some of your decisions and is also available for consultation. You may work in a specialty area such as surgery, GYN, or dermatology.

Where You Work

As a physician assistant, you may work in a hospital, doctor’s office or a Health Management Organization.

How You Help

Physician assistants work directly with patients from all walks of life. Depending on your specialty, you may work solely with adults, men, women, or children in a hospital setting or office setting.  As a physician assistant, you will examine patients, order and interpret tests, make diagnoses, and develop treatment plans.

Helpful High School Courses

  • Health
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology

Skills to Build

  • Ability to multi-task
  • Strong background in science and psychology
  • Communication skills
  • Time management and organization skills


  • Interaction with patients on a daily basis
  • Making a difference in the lives and wellness of others
  • Discovering a serious medical issue and in some cases saving the life of a patient


  • Time constraints of seeing patients in short intervals
  • Significant documentation required for insurance
  • Patient expectations for instant health outcomes

Education You Need

Bachelor’s Degree in a science or health related field.  Most programs also require students to have at least three years of healthcare training and experience to enter a two-year training program to receive a master’s degree.  Physician assistants must pass a national certifying exam and obtain a license from the state in which they wish to practice.

A Day in the Life

  • 7:00
    Arrive before patients to review paperwork, approve transcriptions and refill prescriptions
  • 7:30
    Begin seeing patients in 15 minute intervals
  • 7:45
    For each patient, develop treatment plans, order lab work or interpret previous lab results, write new prescriptions and plan for follow up care and/or appointments
  • 11:30
    Consult with physician as needed about patient care, prognosis, or treatment
  • 1:00
    Continue seeing patients

Average Annual Salary Range


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* Actual salary dependent on education, experience, location, and other variables