Physician Assistant

What does a physician assistant do?

A physician assistant (PA) provides patient care under the direction of a physician or surgeon. They examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment.

PAs are highly-trained in medicine and can provide nearly all the same services as a physician. They can relieve doctors of routine duties and procedures. Many work in primary care areas such as family medicine and pediatrics. Others specialize in areas like surgery or emergency care.

Every day, thousands of people have access to quality health care because there are PAs in their communities. PAs are critical to increasing access to care for rural and other underserved patients as they are often the only health providers in these areas.

People they work with: Doctors, surgeons, assistants, and patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly

Where they work: Hospitals, doctors’ offices, and outpatient centers

Career outlook for a physician assistant

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of PAs is expected to grow much faster than average. This is due to expanding health services and focus on cost savings. They provide many of the same services as doctors, but they can be trained more quickly.

Some pursue further education and earn specializations to increase career opportunities. With additional experience, some also move into supervisory or executive roles.

Physician assistant programs at Mayo Clinic

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