Career Definition for Physician Assistants
Physician's technician is not a particularly common job title; these professionals are more often referred to as physician assistants, or simply PAs. These professionals work with physicians and surgeons to care for patients. They are responsible for all stages of the medical process, from diagnosing to treating.
|Job Skills||Interpersonal communication, emotional stability, compassion|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$98,180|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||30%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Physician assistants will need at least a master's degree. A physician assistant master's program typically includes courses in pharmacology, physical diagnosis, physiology, pathology, and other related topics. For admission to a master's program, applicants typically need at least two years of undergraduate coursework with a focus in science, although requirements will vary from program to program. Most applicants to these programs possess a bachelor's degree as well as healthcare-related work experience.
Licensure & Certification
PAs will need to be licensed, as all states and the District of Columbia require certification. Professionals can obtain certification by passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Successful completion of the program results in the 'Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C)' credential.
Re-certification occurs every two years, with practicing physician assistants being required to earn 100 hours of continuing education. In addition, a re-certification exam must be taken every 10 years.
Career and Economic Outlook
Jobs for physician assistants are expected to grow 30% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also states that these workers made a median annual wage of $98,180 in May 2015.
Consider these other options for a career in medical or laboratory settings:
For those who want to work in a laboratory assisting with medical research projects, becoming a biological technician may be another good career option. Somewhat similar to a physician's technician, a biological technician prepares samples that may include food, bacteria, blood or other biological substances. They assist medical scientists with experiments relating to identification of organism characteristics or the creation of new drugs to cure and prevent disease.
A bachelor's degree in biology or a related field is required, and coursework should include chemistry, ecology, microbiology and mathematics. The BLS expects about 4,100 new jobs will be created in this occupation between 2014 and 2024. It also determined in 2015 that biological technicians received a median yearly salary of $41,650.
If working in a medical practice and providing support to doctors and nurses sounds more appealing, a career in medical assisting should be considered. Medical assistants not only perform scheduling and clerical tasks, they also interact with patients, measure vitals, prepare lab specimens, record medical histories and administer injections under doctor supervision. To gain employment, a high school diploma may be the only required education, but many employers prefer to hire those who have completed a medical assistant certificate or diploma program. Optional professional certification can also provide an advantage when looking for a job.
According to BLS projections, medical assistants may see employment opportunities grow by 23% from 2014-2024, and these medical professionals can expect to earn $30,590 in median annual wages, based on 2015 BLS statistics.