Aspire to be a physician’s assistant? Read on to know how to become a physician assistant and other nitty-gritty of the profession.
To function optimally, a healthcare facility requires a collective effort from doctors, nurses, physician assistants, helper staff, junior assistants, and other professionals. A physician treats patients and monitors their recovery, whereas nurses and helper staff ensure the patient stays well cared for.
Out of all, physician jobs are well talked about but who streamlines their workflow? Well, they are physician assistants. Read on to know who is a physician assistant, how to become a physician assistant, and other nitty-gritty of the profession.
What is a Physician Assistant?
What is a physician assistant?, you might wonder? Well, A physician assistant (PA) is a medical practitioner trained to deliver immediate treatment to patients and avoid the worst-case scenarios. PAs often deal with patients in various specialties and settings, diagnosing and treating common diseases and performing minor operations. However, their primary concern is to assist doctors in day-to-day procedures, hence, the name.
Despite the similarities, there’s a significant distinction between a professional doctor and a physician assistant. A PA works under the supervision of a doctor. In contrast, a doctor is in charge of a clinical situation entirely. Despite the differences, both are licensed medical practitioners who frequently collaborate and provide the best available medical help.
Why become a Physician Assistant?
As a Physician Assistant, you can gain both exposure and money. Mind you, a physician assistant is one of the highest-paying profiles in the twenty-first century. Here is a complete list of advantages of becoming a physician assistant.
The physician assistant can expect a stable and competitive salary package. The annual physician assistant salary could be about 3.5 lakhs (INR) in India. However, it may vary according to hospitals, regions, experience, and other factors.
In the United States, the salary could be $108,610 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). PAs employed in the educational sector earn roughly $102,870 a year, while those working in outpatient centers earn around $115,560 per year.
Medical health facilities are largely recession-resistant and so are jobs associated with them. Given the rising demand, physician assistants per se have great career viability in India. It’s free of recessions and any circumstantial loss of jobs.
Satisfaction of Saving lives
Physician assistants operate primarily in the healthcare field and assist medical specialists in managing, treating, and providing help to patients. They conduct tests in laboratories and then analyze the data for a better understanding of patients’ specific problems.
The physician assistant career, thus, ensures plenty of interaction with patients and the satisfaction of saving lives and touching hearts.
The physicians assistant education opportunities are plenty. A physician assistant is free to pursue an MSc and Ph.D. in their field of study. The degrees could enhance employability, lateral growth, and salary packages.
As a Physician Assistant, you are involved in various activities, such as inspecting and analyzing samples, diagnosing and treating diseases, and assisting physicians. All this helps you gain a unique experience.
By now, you must have made up your mind about becoming a physician assistant. Let’s know how to become a physician assistant.
How to become a Physician Assistant?
To become a physician assistant, the first step is to start early. This would help you stay mentally prepared to meet the physician assistant requirements. Here’re the details.
Preparation at the secondary school level
To pursue a Physician Assistant degree after 12th grade, you require choosing the right career programs. The eligibility for entrance exams or college interviews for physician assistant courses demands students with science with a biology background.
A minimum of 50% in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology in 12th grade is required. However, candidates with at least 60% or higher are considered for merit-based admission. Also, you need to write an entrance exam.
After completing 12th grade, students have the option to write a variety of admission exams for enrolments in the physician assistant program. The admission tests differ depending on the universities.
The following are some of the most known admission exams:
- CUCET: It is a national-level exam jointly controlled by ten major institutions for admission to different undergraduate, graduate, and other physician assistant programs across India.
- CPNET: A valid entrance test for physician assistant courses in India.
- PANCE: Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) is a globally recognized exam for students who wish to apply to international colleges. It is a valid exam for many countries, such as the US, the UK, and Ireland.
Get yourself enrolled in the course Physician Assistant
For Indians, the most advised choice for pursuing a physician assistant career is a degree in BSc, Physician Assistant. It is a three-year full-time medical program. The curriculum is designed to help students to learn how to examine and treat patients and obtain and interpret laboratory x-rays and other tests.
To be eligible for the program, students need to complete Class 12 or equivalent (according to the Indian education system) with Physics, Chemistry, and Biology as core subjects from a deemed board with an aggregate of 55 percent at least. The criterion is important as some colleges offer admission to the BSc Physician Assistant program based exclusively on the candidate’s high school grades.
BSc in Physician Assistant program focuses on basic to advanced level concepts. This includes the treatment and prevention of health-related disorders and diagnosing, aiding in surgery, and treatment of illnesses by recommending required tests.
Students imbibe the techniques of evaluating and treating patients, providing counseling to patients, and recommending appropriate therapies. The practical aspects of the course cover the use of laboratory x-rays and the execution of all diagnostic procedures, such as collecting blood samples and analyzing a patient’s ultrasound.
The course also provides internships in healthcare institutions centers and clinics.
Certificate Program for Physician Assistants
Another alternative is to go for the certificate program. Specialization in general medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, family medicine, psychiatry, and general surgery can be considered.
- The Admissions Process
Admissions to medical assistant certificate programs are not as well structured as for the bachelor’s and master’s programs. Specific colleges operate on a first-come, first-served basis, while other institutions choose students based on their qualifications.
A few institutions also offer admission to students via an examination followed by a personal interview. In that case, class X or XII (as relevant) grades are considered.
- Physician Assistant Diploma
You can become a physician assistant via a diploma course also. The two-year diploma course provides students with a head start in their careers. Students are enrolled into this diploma program after their 10+2 in Science (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology as the core subjects) with 50% marks.
The curriculum focuses on developing knowledge in the healthcare industry and strengthening student’s abilities to face the day-to-day challenges of a physician’s job.
- The Admissions Procedure
Different universities follow different admission prerequisites for diploma programs. Some institutes follow merit-based admission, while others conduct an entrance test. The successive steps invite shortlisted candidates to a personal interview.
The physician assistant education requirements for the physician assistant diploma program are quite specific. It requires students to have completed 10+2 or an equivalent course in Science with the core topics of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology with a minimum of 50%.
Top colleges offering PA courses
- Duke University, Durham, NC
- University of Iowa, Iowa City
- Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
- University of Utah, Salt Lake City
- Emory University, Atlanta
- George Washington University, Washington
- University of Colorado, Aurora
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center- Dallas, Texas
- Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem NC
- Drexel University, Philadelphia
- Dr MGR Educational and Research Institute, Chennai, India
- Galgotias University, India
- WBUHS Kolkata, India
- Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore, India
- Brainware University, Kolkata, India
- Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University, Bhavnagar, India
- Mahatma Gandhi University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Jaipur, India
Types of Physician Assistant
Next on the checklist of how to become a physician assistant, let’s discuss the types of jobs available. Becoming a physician assistant opens an array of job opportunities. It could be in hospitals, private clinics, schools and colleges as teachers, army camps as emergency medical personnel, and more. Here is a detailed list of job opportunities.
Assistant to a Radiology Practitioner
In most cases, Radiology Physician Assistants operate under the direction of a senior radiologist. A Radiology PA is responsible for safeguarding patients, maintaining patient medical records, diagnosing illnesses, and maintaining the radiology equipment.
In India, Radiology Practitioner Assistants are in high demand. From 2021 through 2029, the job market is anticipated to increase by 14 percent annually. Additionally, RPA’s market is segmented, enhancing work opportunities and choices, such as private imaging centers, university centers, hospitals, government health care facilities, diagnostic clinics, and so on.
Assistant to a Pediatrician
Pediatric Physician Assistants are in charge of gathering medical information, diagnosing illnesses, recommending testing, and developing treatment strategies. They generally work at health care centers, pediatric centers, hospitals, and other settings. From 2019 to 2029, the job market for Pediatric Physician Assistants is anticipated to expand by 31%.
Associate in Drug Safety
A Drug Safety Associate evaluates the safety of pharmaceutical medicines before their release into the market. They supervise the whole drug production process while adhering to strict rules to ensure the drugs have no adverse effects on patients.
The need for Drug Safety Associates is growing in tandem with the growth of the healthcare job market. From 2021 to 2028, the demand for drug safety associates is anticipated to develop at a CAGR of 11.5 percent.
Assistant to an Orthopedic Physician
The prime competency of the Orthopedic Physician Assistant is to assist the Orthopedic Surgeon in the delivery of medical treatments. Their job is to examine people to identify illnesses and provide medicines.
Because patients require treatment in healthcare facilities, the demand for orthopedic physician assistants is growing rapidly. From 2019 to 2029, the job demand is estimated to increase by 31%.
Physician Assistant in Family Practice
The job of physician assistants in family practice entails diagnosing and treating illnesses, prescribing drugs, managing chronically sick patients, channelizing hospital and nursing facility rounds, and home visits. Some physician assistants in family practice are in charge of providing healthcare to the entire family also.
So, start your journey to becoming a Physician Assistant today!
Physician Assistant is a diversified role entailing multiple experiences and responsibilities. It offers consistent growth professionally and financially. With the healthcare system coming of age, an exponential demand for Physician assistants is on the cards. So, that was our comprehensive checklist of how to become a physician assistant.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Question: What do Physician Assistant PA) do?
Answer: Physician assistants (PAs) are medical professionals who assist doctors and others by diagnosing, prescribing medications, and assisting in treatments, as well as ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests.
Question: How long does it take to be a PA?
Answer: The duration of obtaining a degree in PA depends on various factors. If a student pursues B.Sc., the degree would take about 3 years whereas if a student enrolls in a diploma course, it would take 2 years.
Question: Do I need any prior experience to practice as a PA?
Answer: To obtain a degree and be eligible to practice as a PA, a student has to obtain certain hours of hands-on experience in inpatient care. However, this is included as part of the curriculum in the course.
Question: How much would it cost to be a PA?
Answer: The program fee determines the total cost incurred in obtaining a degree and it differs from course to course. On average, in the USA it would cost about $90,000 and INR 1,00,000 to INR 4,00,000 in tuition fee for the course.
Question: Is PA a promising career?
Answer: Healthcare is a primary service in a society, hence, it is very unlikely to have a recession in this field. It is estimated that this profession would witness 31% growth in the next decade