Physician Assistant  What They Do

Just the Facts

Physician Assistants Career Video

Provides healthcare services typically performed by a physician, under the supervision of a physician. Conducts complete physicals, provides treatment, and counsels patients. May, in some cases, prescribe medication. Must graduate from an accredited educational program for physician assistants.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Therapeutic Services pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Examines patients to obtain information about their physical condition.
  • Makes tentative diagnoses and decisions about management and treatment of patients.
  • Prescribes therapy or medication with physician approval.
  • Administers or orders diagnostic tests, such as x-ray, electrocardiogram, and laboratory tests.
  • Interprets diagnostic test results for deviations from normal.
  • Obtains, compiles and records patient medical data, including health history, progress notes and results of physical examination.
  • Instructs and counsels patients about prescribed therapeutic regimens, normal growth and development, family planning, emotional problems of daily living, and health maintenance.
  • Visits and observes patients on hospital rounds or house calls, updating charts, ordering therapy, and reporting back to physician.
  • Provides physicians with assistance during surgery or complicated medical procedures.
  • Performs therapeutic procedures, such as injections, immunizations, suturing and wound care, and infection management.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.

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Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Certified Physician Assistant (PA-C) --
  • Clinical Physician Assistant --
  • Family Practice Physician Assistant --
  • General Surgery Physician Assistant --
  • Midlevel Provider --
  • Orthopaedic Physician Assistant --
  • Physician Assistant Certified (PAC) --
  • Physician Extender --
  • Physician's Assistant --
  • Surgical Physician Assistant --