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Physician Assistant

Physician Assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Common services provided by a PA include taking medical histories and performing physical examinations; ordering and interpreting lab tests; diagnosing and treating illnesses; assisting in surgery; prescribing and/or dispensing medication; and counseling patients.

PAs are trained in intensive education programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (previously the American Medical Association's Committee on Allied Health Education and Accreditation.)

Because of the close working relationship the PAs have with physicians, PAs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. Upon graduation, physician assistants take a national certification examination developed by the National Commission on Certification of PAs in conjunction with the National Board of Medical Examiners. To maintain their national certification, PAs must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and sit for a re-certification every six years. Graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licenser.

For more information about Physician Assistants, visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants website.

Last Updated: 4/5/10