Have you been thinking about a new career? One that offers the opportunity to help people live healthier lives? Then you may consider becoming a physician assistant. As a physician assistant, you will have the opportunities to perform many of the same functions as a doctor, providing care to those who are ill or injured. A physician assistant salary is nothing to sneeze at, either.
You may wonder just what a physician assistant does, or what kind of training you need to become one. You may also wonder how much a physician assistant salary is. We have found the answers to these questions and will share them with you in the following paragraphs. After reading through this article, you will have a better idea of whether a career as a physician assistant is for you.
What Is a Physician Assistant?
A physician assistant usually works in a clinic, at a doctor’s office or in a hospital. This licensed medical professional performs much of the day-to-day tasks that doctors perform, such as caring for patients who are ill or injured. A physician assistant can also order routine tests and prescribe medication. Often, a physician assistant works directly with the doctor in the office or hospital. However, in more rural areas and the inner city, the physician assistant may work in the office without direct supervision by the doctor. The doctor is consulted when a patient’s care requires more specialized attention.
Physician Assistant Duties
A physician assistant’s duties include taking a patient’s medical history and examining them. He or she can diagnose an illness or injury and provide the proper care, including ordering diagnostic tests and prescribing medication. Following up with the patient and keeping track of progress is also among the duties that a physician assistant performs.
Education and Licensing Requirements
Physician assistants must earn a bachelor’s degree in a medically related field. Most areas also require a master’s degree through specialized training that is very similar to the training that doctors undergo. This includes hundreds of hours of on-the-job training with a licensed doctor. They must then pass a state licensing exam and board certification to become a physician assistant. Continuing education is necessary to maintain their license.
Qualities Shared by Physician Assistants
To explain medical issues to patients, physician assistants must have great communication skills. They must be detail oriented so that the treatment they give their patients is the best possible. Also, they need to have excellent problem-solving skills to diagnose more complicated health issues.
Physician assistants should have the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. Not only does it help them provide the best possible care, but it also eases the patient’s anxiety when their healthcare team is calm. This ability to stay calm and compassionate is also critical when speaking with the patient’s family about the medical condition. This is especially important when the diagnosis is poor and the outcome uncertain.
What Is a Physician Assistant Salary?
In 2016, a physician assistant salary ranged anywhere from around $66,000 to $142,000 per year. That puts the average physician assistant salary at around $102,000 per year, in 2016. Those salaries have grown and will continue to grow as the demand for physician assistant services increases. Also, as more specialization occurs in this career, the physician assistant salary will increase accordingly.
Location, Location, Location
A physician assistant salary varies depending upon where they are employed. The average physician assistant salary for those working in educational services is about $97,000. Physician assistants who work in doctors’ offices average slightly more at $100,000. The physician assistant salary for those who are working in employment services has a median of about $112,000. Hospitals and outpatient care centers average at about $104,000 and $109,000 respectively.
The top five states for the highest average physician assistant salary are Nevada, Connecticut, North Dakota, Vermont, and Washington. The salaries range from a high of about $128,000 in Nevada down to $114,000 in Washington. Those who work in rural areas have a lower salary than those who work in more urban areas.
Is a Career as a Physician Assistant for You?
There is a growing demand for physician assistants in the healthcare industry, and this demand will continue to grow as opportunities for specialization within the field become more prevalent.
Now that you know more about what it takes to be a physician assistant, and what a physician assistant salary may be, you are better equipped to decide whether this is the right career path for you. If you have the desire to help people live healthier, longer lives, then this just might your calling. If you think this is your career path, speak to a physician assistant, and find out what his or her day is usually like. You might start down the path towards your new career before you know it.