A Career as a Physician Assistant
Career Goal: Physician Assistant
By Brianna Prange
Physician assistants (PAs) provide health care services under the supervision of doctors.
Physician assistants perform a range of medical duties. They work in all areas of medicine including primary care, family medicine, and emergency medicine. Specific duties and how much they need to be supervised by a physician vary by state.
Helpful High School Courses
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Computer Applications
- Health Education
- Introduction to Health Care
Skills and Abilities
Perceive and Visualize
- Identify a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in distracting material.
- Quickly and accurately compare letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns.
Work with Things
- Determine the tools and equipment needed to do a job.
Manage Oneself, People, Time, and Things
- Check how well one is learning or doing something.
- Manage the time of self and others.
- Go back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information without becoming confused.
- Motivate, develop, and direct people as they work.
- Express ideas clearly when speaking or writing.
- Listen to others, understand, and ask questions.
- Read and understand written information.
- Have a high level of social contact. They spend a lot of time talking to patients and doctors.
- Deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous patients on a weekly basis. Patients who are not feeling well may be upset.
- Are responsible for the health and safety of patients.
- Are often placed in conflict situations.
- Are responsible for work outcomes. They must determine the correct treatment for a patient.
- Communicate with coworkers and patients daily by telephone, face-to-face conversations, letters, and e-mails.
- Communicate with coworkers by e-mail on a weekly basis.
- Work in a group or as part of a team.
Physical Work Conditions
- Always work indoors.
- Are exposed to infections or disease on a daily basis.
- Work very near patients. They often work within inches of other people.
- Always wear gloves or other safety attire.
- Nearly always wear a lab coat or uniform.
- Must be exact in their work. Errors could seriously endanger patients' health.
- Make decisions on a daily basis that strongly impact patients. They consult doctors for some decisions, but make most without talking to a supervisor.
- Are usually able to set their tasks for the day without consulting with a supervisor.
- Work in a moderately competitive atmosphere. Their days are structured around patient appointments.
- Repeat the same mental and physical activities.
Have a High School Diploma or GED
Graduate from a Physician Assistant Program
Have a License
Experience in the Health Science Field
Bachelors Degree with required prereciqutes
Health Science Technology
MN: $45.50 per hour
US: $43.75 per hour
MN: $94, 630 salary
MN: 50% growth
US: 60% growth
Program Choices: Overview
Physician assisting programs prepare people to diagnose and treat patients.
You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.
In addition, admission to bachelor's programs in physician assisting usually first requires the completion of some college courses first. These courses typically include the following:
•General Chemistry with labs
•Microbiology with labs
•Organic Chemistry with labs
•General Physics with labs
Typical Course Work
Anatomy and Physiology
Medicine and Medical Services
Schools that Offer this Program
Mayo School of Health Sciences
University of Northwestern
2,907 undergraduate students and 870 graduate students
4 year private school
Religious Affiliation: Lutheran
Fall Admission: May 1
Spring Admission: December 15
Test Required: ACT or SAT
Average Test Scores: ACT 22
Average GPA: 3.08
Rank: Top 50% of Class
Majored offered: Yes, my program is offered
Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and School
Student-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Typical Class Size: Lecture-17 students, Laboratory-19 students, Discussion-17 students
Room and Board: $8,355
Estimated Total Budget: $42,564
Application Fee: $25
Deadline to Apply: June 1st
Required Forms Needed: FAFSA or SAR
Scholarship Available: Merit-based, Need-based, loans, and work study
Resident Hall: Co-ed Dorms
60 clubs and associations
Greek Clubs available
Athletics and Intramurals
Date of Interview: 1/12/14
Interviewee: Jamie Hooley
Name of Company: MNSC Clinic, Marshalltown, IA
Type of Company: Hospital Clinic
Position: Physician Assistant
Phone Number: 641-485-4604
1. The person I interviewed was very easy to talk to and gave me great advice about working in the medical field. The workplace sounded like it was a great place to work, and it gave me an idea of what it would be like to work in a clinic.
2. I learned a lot of tips about how to prepare for a job in the medical field and what it would be like to work as a physician assistant.
3. What I liked about the career was the ability to help people. What I didn't like was the possibility of having not so great hours.
4. An advantage to this career would be job security, the person I interviewed felt that her job would be very secure and this is something I want in my life.
5. I received advice to get as much experience as you can in the medical field, to help you get into a program.
6. I discovered the occupation of a nurse practitioner, but I don't think that the career would be for me.
7. The work environment was like a typical clinic, and because of this she has very flexible hours.
8. Yes, I feel that I would be very happy in this occupation. It sounds like something I would enjoy very much. I would still be able to work in the medical field, but would have more flexibility in what I want to do.
Plans to Reach Your Goal
To reach my goal I plan on continuing to be in High-STEP to get my Certified Nursing Assistant certificate. After getting my CNA, I want to use that to gain more experience in the healthcare field. By gaining experience it can help me get into my program of choice, and help me decide if this is what I want to do with my life. Also, by having my CNA I have an opportunity to work while going to school. Through High-STEP and the organization I am a part of, HOSA, I have many volunteer opportunities to help me better understand the healthcare field. I also plan on job shadowing at some point to really see what it is like to work in a hospital.