Neonatology physician assistants work in healthcare settings examining, diagnosing and treating infants, working with other health care workers, and communicating with families. A career in this field requires a master's degree and work experience at a minimum, but further training is also necessary for specialized knowledge. This is a fast growing field.
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Working under the supervision of a physician, a neonatal physician assistant conducts infant exams, gives vaccinations, explains infant care and development to new parents and performs many other duties. He or she works in various medical settings, including hospitals, medical offices and clinics. It's possible to become a neonatal physician assistant with a master's degree, but more schooling is recommended for job seekers who wish to obtain a specialization.
|Required Education||Master's degree|
|Other Requirements||On-the-job training; must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||30%*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$98,180*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A physician assistant is a trained, certified healthcare professional who works under the supervision of a physician. A neonatal physician assistant specializes in the care and treatment of newborn, premature or ill infants. Physician assistants of all specialties are in high demand, with this occupation expected to grow by 30% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS.
Physician assistants perform exams, order and read tests, take the patient's medical history, treat and diagnose minor injuries and illnesses and can even prescribe certain substances. They report on the progress of patients for the doctor to review. The neonatal physician assistant advises parents or caregivers about the treatment and care of the infant.
Some physician assistants are involved with surgical procedures or may have other responsibilities such as overseeing staff members or maintaining supplies. Laws controlling the duties of a physician assistant vary by state.
A neonatology physician assistant usually works in a hospital setting. Generally, physician assistants work in hospitals, care facilities, medical offices and even in patients' homes during home visits. In some practices, especially in rural and urban settings, the physician assistant is the main health care provider, who confers with visiting doctors about patient care.
A physician assistant must complete at least two years of graduate education. Programs are usually offered at universities, medical schools and academic health centers. Health-related work experience is also required. After completing an accredited program of study, physician assistants must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and must maintain their certification throughout their career. Some healthcare professionals, such as nurses and paramedics, may be trained as physician assistants while on the job, but must still meet the same qualifications and certification.
Specialization in neonatal care requires additional training. Some master's degree programs train physician assistants on pediatric care. Others provide training as a Child Health Associate, which includes neonatology, pediatrics and parenting. Also, a physician assistant may complete the clinical portion of his or her training in the neonatal or pediatric section of a hospital to gain experience in that specialty.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual salary for a physician assistant in May 2015 was $98,180. Salaries varied depending on the work location. For example, the average annual salary for a physician assistant working at an outpatient care center was $106,080 at that time.
Salaries also varied by experience and industry. The top 10% of earners in this profession received an annual salary of at least $139,540. The industries that paid the most for physician assistants included employment services and management, scientific, and technical consulting services, according to the BLS.
A neonatology physician assistant must complete an advanced level of education and be certified. In addition to a master's degree, specialized training can be undertaken in neonatology and pediatrics. Once this is complete, physician assistants can diagnose and treat some conditions, conduct exams, and even prescribe medicine.