Physician's Assistant (PA)

by Angela Chen

What a PA Can Do

  • Take your medical history
  • Conduct physical exams
  • Diagnose and treat illnesses
  • Order and interpret tests
  • Develop treatment plans
  • Counsel on preventive care
  • Assist in surgery
  • Write prescriptions
  • Make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes
  • and more

A PAs’ specific duties may depend on the setting in which they work, their level of experience, their specialty, and state Law

What to Become a PA

  • Step 1: Get Prerequisites and health experience- 2 year basic course work
  • Step 2: Attend an accredited PA program- master's degree; about 3 academic years
  • Step 3: Become certified- Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)
  • Step 4: Obtain a state license
  • Step 5: Maintain you certification- you need to complete 100 hours of continuing medical education (CME) credits every two years and take a recertification exam (the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam, or PANRE) every 10 years


The median salary for a PA is 92,970 as of 2013. The top 10 percent earn 130, 620. The lowest 10 percent earn 62, 030. It is expected that the salary of a PA to grow.
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  • was first proposed in 1961 by Charles Hudson
  • Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr. created the first class of Physician Assistants in 1965
  • Richard Smith and Hu Myers later created their own programs in the late 1960s
  • There are similar jobs all over the world with different titles