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Physician Assistants

Physician Assistants
Quick Facts : Physician Assistants*
2010 Median Pay$86,410
Entry Level EducationMaster's degree
Work Experience in Related OccupationNone
Number of Jobs, 201283,600
Job Outlook30% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change24,700

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine under the direction and supervision of physicians and surgeons. They are formally trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment. Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, including primary care and family medicine, emergency medicine, and psychiatry.

What Physician Assistants Do

  • Do physical exams to check patients' health
  • Order and interpret diagnostic tests, such as x rays or blood tests
  • Make preliminary diagnoses concerning a patient's injury or illness
  • Prescribe medicine, when needed
  • Complete insurance paperwork

Work Environment

Physician assistants work in physicians' offices, hospitals, and other healthcare settings. Most work full time.
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Job Outlook

Employment of physician assistants is expected to increase 30 percent from 2010 to 2020 as more physicians enter specialty areas of medicine, there will be a greater need for primary healthcare providers.
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The average salary of physician assistants in May 2010 was $86,410.
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Physician Assistants*
Average Annual Salary, May 2010

Physician Assistants


Healthcare Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.

Physician Assistants*
Percent Change in Employment

Physician Assistants


Healthcare Occupations


All Jobs in the U.S.


Becoming a Physician Assistants

Physician assistants typically need a master's degree. Most applicants to master's programs already have a bachelor's degree and some work experience. Then, they must complete an accredited educational program for physician assistants. That usually takes at least 2 years of full-time study and typically leads to a master's degree. All states require physician assistants to be licensed.
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