Career Definition and Salary Information for a Telemedicine Physician Assistant
A telemedicine physician assistant is a health care professional who provides treatment to and diagnoses patients either over the phone or by using video conferencing technology. This is especially helpful if the patients live in remote areas or are unable to visit a healthcare facility for various reasons. Physician assistants (PA) are able to perform many of the same tasks as a physician, though their specific responsibilities and duties vary state to state, as different states have different laws regarding the extent of a PA's abilities in terms of providing medical care and treatment. Regardless of the state, all physician assistants must work in coordination with a practicing physician who supervises them, though they don't always have to be present when a PA is providing treatment.
Just like a traditional physician assistant, a telemedicine physician assistant will typically work in a specific field of medicine or healthcare, like dermatology, internal medicine, or pediatrics. However, rather than examining patients in person, they provide treatment over the phone or webcam. Because these professionals work under the supervision of a physician, they may work out of a doctor's office or clinic. When talking with a patient, a telemedicine physician assistant will ask the patient a number of questions, listen to their symptoms, ask about medical history, and look at any areas that may be showing physical symptoms. They then will provide the patient with a treatment plan, which could include a prescription for medication.
|Educational Requirements||Master's degree|
|Job Skills||Listening skills, problem-solving, analytical thinking, compassion, detail-oriented|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$104,860|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||37% (for all physician assistants)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Required Education & Training
While telemedicine physician assistants may not work in a traditional hospital or clinical environment, they still must fulfill the same education and training requirements as any other physician assistant. Generally, in order to become a physician assistant, a student will need to obtain a bachelor's degree and complete a large number of science courses in order to fulfill the prerequisites for a physician assistant master's degree program. In addition, many applicants to these programs have some work experience in the medical or healthcare field before beginning graduate study. While enrolled in a master's degree program, students will complete coursework in addition to clinical rotations in different areas of medicine, like emergency, pediatrics, and internal medicine. After completing school, prospective physician assistants must then become licensed by passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. In order to begin practicing medicine, a physician assistant must also make an agreement with a licensed physician, who is responsible for supervising them.
All of the skills necessary to be a successful physician assistant are also necessary to be a successful telemedicine physician assistant. As a physician assistant, you will be required to interact with patients regularly, listen to their concerns with compassion, and be able to put your medical knowledge into practice by problem-solving, diagnosing, and treating various medical conditions. It is also important to be very detail-oriented in this profession, as physician assistants must keep track of a patient's medical history and be able to be very focused when treating and dealing with patients. Working as a telemedicine physician assistant requires individuals to be even more detail-oriented and to have very strong communication skills in order to provide treatment for patients over the phone or via video-conferencing technology. They must be able to listen very well and to communicate instructions and information clearly and simply so that patients can understand and take the appropriate steps toward treatment.
Career and Salary Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of physician assistantship, including telemedicine physician assistants, is expected to grow by 37% between 2016 and 2026. This rate of job growth is much faster than the national average of 7% expected across all occupations. One of the major reasons for this high job growth is the aging baby boomer population, which will likely require increased healthcare and services in the coming years. The median annual salary for a physician assistant was $104,860 as of 2017, significantly higher than the national median salary for all jobs of $37,690.
Individuals who are considering a career as a telemedicine physician assistant may also be interested in other related health care careers. As telemedicine becomes more widespread, it is possible that some of these careers could also be completed from a telemedicine perspective. A few of these careers are mentioned below: