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Neurosurgical Physician Assistant: Job Duties & Career Info

Mar 18, 2019

See how you can get a job as a neurosurgical physician assistant. Learn about education and training requirements. Read on to find out about career prospects, too.

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Career Definition for a Neurosurgical Physician Assistant

Neurosurgical physician assistants work in conjunction with a supervising neurosurgeon to take detailed medical histories, perform exams, interpret lab results, make diagnoses, and discuss and implement in- and out-patient treatment. Hospital duties include assisting in neurosurgical procedures, closing wounds, ordering and reviewing MRIs and CT scans, and making rounds.

Required Education Generally, a master's degree and/or passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, plus 1 year of on-the-job training
Job Duties Include taking detailed medical histories, performing exams, making diagnoses; hospital duties include closing wounds and making rounds
Median Salary (2017)* $104,860 for physician assistants
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 37% growth for physician assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A physician assistant in neurosurgery usually has a master's degree. All states will require PA's to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, and a year of on-the-job training is required to specialize in Neurosurgery Assisting. Neurosurgical PA's will also need to complete 100 hours of continued medical education every two years and pass a recertification exam every six years in order to keep their PA certifications active.

Essential Skills

Neurosurgical PA's must enjoy working with sometimes difficult patients, have a good bedside manner, and be able to make emergency decisions quickly. Physicians assistants must also be self-motivated and organized as they will perform many duties and juggle large numbers of patients without immediate supervision.

Career Opportunities and Earning Potential

The median income among physician assistants was $104,860 in May 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Employment in this field is predicted to grow much faster than average at a rate of 37% between 2016 and 2026. Job opportunities are especially high in inner-city and rural areas that have difficulty attracting physicians. As of 2013, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) reported 67% of physician assistants to be female; the largest number of practicing respondents live in New York and California and work in a hospital setting (www.aapa.org).

Alternative Career Options

Here are some alternative career ideas:

Physician

Physicians take care of people who are sick or injured; they also provide their patients with preventive care. After a 4-year bachelor's degree program, aspiring physicians attend a 4-year medical school program that culminates with either an M.D. (Medical Doctor) or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). There are many areas of specialty, from internist to pediatrician to surgeon. Medical school graduates complete a residency program of 3-8 years. Doctors are required to hold state licenses; board certification is also available in some areas of medicine, and requirements for board certification vary by specialty. According to the BLS, jobs for physicians and surgeons are expected to increase 13% from 2016-2026. Median pay can vary by area of practice; the BLS reported that in 2017, the median pay of general practitioners was $198,740 while pediatricians earned $172,650, and surgeons earned more than $208,000.

Registered Nurse

A registered nurse, or RN, has completed an approved diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program and passed the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN. They also hold state licenses. Registered nurses observe and report on patients' conditions, provide hands-on care, and advise patients on how to care for themselves at home after illness, surgery or injury. Some RNs specialize; areas of specialization include population served (such as geriatric or oncological care) and setting (such as emergency room or operating room), among others. Job growth is expected to be 15% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. Registered nurses earned median pay of $70,000 in 2017, reported the BLS.

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