Pediatric physician assistants provide healthcare services to children under the supervision of a medical doctor. In some instances they work under limited supervision. They are usually required to possess a master's degree and must have state licensure.
Pediatric Physician Assistant Salary
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the average annual salary for all physician assistants was $108,430 in May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The average physician assistant salary per hour was $52.13. At that time, the highest number of PAs were employed in physicians' offices, where they were paid an average salary of $108,180. The highest salaries were earned by those working in outpatient care centers, where the average annual wage was $116,780 in 2018.
Pediatric Physician Assistant Job Overview
A pediatric physician assistant (PA) provides children with diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive medical care under the direct supervision of a fully trained and licensed medical doctor. To qualify for employment, applicants must complete an accredited and specialized pediatric PA medical program and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).
|Required Education||Master's degree|
|Other Requirements||State licensure; specialized pediatric certification by NCCPA|
|Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)||37% (all physician assistants)*|
|Average Salary (2018)||$108,430 (all physician assistants)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Pediatric Physician Assistant Education
The road to becoming a pediatric physician assistant usually begins with a health-related college degree followed by experience in nursing or emergency medical technology. Medical workers returning to school generally complete their PA studies in about two years. Institutions that offer PA training include 4-year colleges, medical and allied health schools, community colleges, military schools and hospitals.
Physician assistant programs are available at levels ranging from a certificate to a master's degree. To specifically become a pediatric PA, one must obtain specialized postgraduate training and certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
Pediatric PA Coursework
In addition to general medical courses in anatomy, physiology and pharmacology, pediatric PA students study newborn care, pediatric gastroenterology, oncology, pulmonology, neurology and cardiology. Coursework also covers neonatal and pediatric intensive care and pediatric orthopedics, in addition to supervised training in routine, in-patient and emergency care of children. Pediatric PAs are also trained in the toxicity, complications and effectiveness of drugs on children, because some states allow them to prescribe specific medications to children under strict guidelines.
Career Info for Pediatric Physician Assistants
PAs work in a variety of settings, with the majority of PA jobs in doctors' offices, clinics, and hospitals. Specific duties of a pediatric PA include examining, diagnosing and treating children in clinical settings as well as mending minor injuries by applying sutures, splints or casts. They spend other parts of their day interpreting lab tests and x-rays, in addition to performing various clerical duties. Sometimes PAs may be called upon to make house calls or check on patients in the hospital and report their findings to the primary physician.
In rural and inner-city settings, the pediatric PA may be the only medical care provider available, except when a supervising doctor visits once or twice a week. Therefore, pediatric physician assistants need to be self-starters who work well with children, are emotionally sound and can remain calm in emergencies.
Physician Assistant Statistics
Data collected by the BLS indicates that employment for PAs is expected to grow 37% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than average in the job market. The best job opportunities are likely to occur in rural and other underserved medical settings, due to difficulties these facilities have persuading qualified physicians to work away from more lucrative medical centers. Part of the upsurge in job opportunities also results from states' increasing allowance of PAs to perform more procedures. Although knowledge and experience can lead to more responsibilities and higher pay, there is a ceiling for all PAs, due to the fact that the job always requires the supervision of a licensed and trained physician.
Pediatric physician assistants perform a wide range of tasks in healthcare settings including diagnosing and treating children's illnesses, interpreting lab results, and performing clerical tasks. They must typically have a master's degree and are always required to have state licensure; they are sometimes required to have specialized pediatric certification, as well. Job growth in the PA field is significantly faster than the average for all occupations.