A Physician Assistant (P.A. for short) is a healthcare professional licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. As part of their responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions.
PAs are trained in intensive education programs accredited by the ARC-PA. Training is usually 2 to 3 years in duration and includes clinical rotations in a broad range of medicinal fields. PAs are awarded a Master’s degree at graduation and go on to take a national certification examination developed by the NCCPA. To remain nationally certified, PAs must complete 100 hours of Continuing Medical Education every 2 years, and pass a national recertification examination every 6 years.
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