The physician assistant or associate (PA) is a state-licensed or federally-credentialed health care professional who practices medicine with physician supervision. In clinical practice, PAs perform an extensive range of medical services in nearly every medical and surgical specialty and health care setting. Offering many of the services traditionally provided by physicians with rapidly increasing frequency from coast to coast, the profession is poised to internationalize. As part of their many roles in the clinical setting, physician assistants:
- take patient histories and perform physical exams
- diagnose illnesses and develop treatment plans
- order lab tests and prescribe medications
- counsel and educate patients
- in surgical settings, suture wounds and assist in surgery
As part of their "Best Jobs in America" 2006 feature, CNN Money ranked the physician assistant career as the #1 fastest-growing field with a 10-year job growth of 49.65%, as well as named it the 5th "best" career in the study. Likewise, the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 49% increase in the number of PA jobs between 2004 and 2014, making it by their research the third fastest-growing profession in the country.
As a highly-valued member of the health care team, the scope of an individual PA's practice varies dramatically by setting, specialty, and the responsibilities delegated by the physician.
Before one can practice, all PAs must graduate from a nationally accredited program and pass a national certification exam in order to gain licensure. At the Yale Physician Associate Program, a graduate-level program awarding a Masters of Medical Science degree upon completion, we uphold the tenet patient-centered medical care and maintain the mission of educating individuals to become outstanding clinicians and caregivers.