A physician assistant, as the name suggests assists licensed physicians in their work. His job should not be confused with that of a medical assistant. Performing clinical and clerical tasks of a routine nature are the job responsibilities of a medical assistant.
In comparison to the medical assistant, the physician assistant handles far greater responsibilities. The responsibilities of a complex nature are however, not handled by these assistants. These professionals have their own, separate medical license. They don't have to use a physician's license. They also do not necessarily work under direct (on-site) supervision of the physicians.
The following list of responsibilities should allow understand their job description in a better manner.
- A physician assistant has to examine patients and gather information pertaining to their conditions.
- In the physical examination conducted by them, history, progress and facts related information of the patient should be recorded by him.
- Performing different therapeutic procedures like immunization, injections, wound care, suturing, infection management etc., are some of their responsibilities.
- They can prescribe a medicine however, with the approval of seniors.
- Different diagnostic tests are performed by them by means of electrocardiograms and X-rays.
- They also carry out counseling of patients. During the counseling sessions instructions about prescribed therapeutic regimens and related subjects is communicated by him to the patient.
- They also have to work with technicians and supervise their work.
- There are times when they have to carry out complicated medical procedures; assisting the seniors in these processes is also one of their jobs.
Orthopedic Physician Assistant
They perform the job of diagnosing and treating the problems associated with musculoskeletal system. Treating fractures, performing sutures, removing staples and applying local anesthesia are the important tasks of an orthopedic physician assistant. They also have to conduct X-ray and lab tests. Recording the progress of patients and communicating it to the senior physicians, is also one of the responsibilities they have to handle.
Surgical Physician Assistant
Out of the total number of physician assistants in USA, 25% work in the branch of surgical operations. Despite this high proportion, they are still in great demand. Treatment of surgical patients before and after the operation/surgery is the job of these professionals. Their responsibilities is that of performing physical examinations, taking medical histories, conducting lab tests, performing surgical dressings and prescribing medicines. Assisting the senior surgeons during operations is one of the major responsibilities of these professionals.
Emergency Room Physician Assistant
The job of an emergency room physician assistant is most challenging. Most of their work shifts are of 12 hours duration, which also includes work in night shifts. They generally work in Fast-track areas. Working in Fast-track areas gives more autonomy to them. In these areas, they have to look after less serious patients; it means that senior physicians get more time to focus on serious cases.
A person who wants to become physician assistant has to undergo an accredited training program. The American Academy of Physician Assistants provides details about the eligibility and requirements that change from state to state. The basic requirement for taking admission to this program is the completion of a 2 year college program in the following subjects: biology, chemistry and physics. After completion of this training program, the candidate has to appear for a exam for obtaining Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) offered by National Commission.
The role of physician assistants working in different areas like orthopedics, surgical operations, emergency rooms have different responsibilities. However, the overall nature of this job, more or less remains the same.