What does a Physician Assistant do?

Physician assistants work under the supervision of a physician or surgeon in all areas and fields of medicine to examine, diagnose, and treat patients or offer surgical assistance.

Physician assistants interview and examine patients and diagnose their injuries and illnesses and help provide the treatment plan when necessary. They will order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and suggest lifestyle changes or alterations when medically necessary. A physician assistant can also stitch wounds, set broken bones, and assist with surgery and operational procedures, as well as administer immunizations. They work on the maintenance of patient records and medical histories, and review and record patient progress. They work in all medical settings, including a primary care or family physician offices, and psychiatry or surgery departments. Some make house calls or conduct home or nursing home visits to treat patients on site. Physician assistants need a master's degree, patient care experience, and to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) as well as state mandated licensing and certification if required.

What responsibilities are common for Physician Assistant jobs?
  • Perform approved procedures as indicated in the Delineation of Privileges (DOP).
  • Assist in the preparation of documentation especially for the admissions process.
  • Participate in required meetings and ceremonies.
  • Perform bedside procedures as are appropriate to the patient population.
  • Monitor patients and collect information for documentation in patient record.
  • Order, interpret, and evaluate appropriate laboratory and diagnostic tests.
  • Operate patient monitoring systems specific to unit needs (such as, cardiac monitoring).
  • Prepare admissions reports by collecting, analyzing, and summarizing data and trends.
  • Assist in the development of laboratory exercises matching course objectives.
  • Perform splinting, casting based upon instruction and departmental competency assessment applies plaster and fiberglass splints, and traction devices.
  • Perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, such as aspirations and injection of joints, bursas, and cysts.
  • Responsible for the delivery of quality care to patients under varied conditions.
  • Consistently provide high quality and timely documentation including admission and progress notes, procedure notes, operative notes and discharge summaries.
  • Triage and manage patients thoroughly and efficiently, maintain, a steady flow to avoid long wait times.
  • Review and manage daily tasks, patient callbacks, and lab results while on shift.
  • Provide oversight and lead day to day operations, as sole provider and serve as expert by consulting, coaching and training advanced practice clinicians.
  • Work under the supervision of an attending physician and report directly to the department administrator or chief physician assistant administratively.
  • Order medications and write prescriptions according to organizational and regulatory policies and procedures.
What are the typical qualifications for Physician Assistant jobs?
  • Bachelor's Degree in health science or nursing and certification as a physician assistant.
  • Strong leadership, critical thinking, and collaboration skills.
  • Prior experience as a consultant.
  • Comfortable making decisions and solving problems.
  • Work with confidence and dexterity.
  • Fluent in HIPAA protocols and practices.
  • Experience in stressful environments such as an ICU.
  • Experience interacting with patients for processes such as injections, suturing, or wound closure.
  • Sound attention to detail and judgment.
EducationGraduate Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.5 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.6 ★
Avg. Experience0-1 year

How much does a Physician Assistant make?

Confident
$158,907 /yr
Total Pay
$148,487
 /yr

Base Pay

+
$10,420
 /yr

Additional Pay

$158,907

 / yr
$95K$266K
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
See More Insights

Physician Assistant Career Path

Learn how to become a Physician Assistant, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

Physician Assistant
$158,907/yr
Senior Physician Assistant
$138,160/yr
Physician Assistant

Years of Experience Distribution

0 - 1
51%
2 - 4
27%
5 - 7
1%
8+
21%
Not including years spent in education and/or training

Physician Assistant Insights

Read what Physician Assistant professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
The Wound ProsThe Wound Pros
Physician Assistant, PA-C
Sep 29, 2022

“The work life balance is the best I have been a part of in my career.”

North American Spine and Pain (NJ)North American Spine and Pain (NJ)
Physician Assistant
Jun 13, 2022

“I have been here almost 2 years and I am looking forward to spending my future career with NASPAC!”

Penda AikenPenda Aiken
Physician Assistant
Jun 25, 2022

“The pay was great but I felt like I had to work hard to ensure I got my check every two weeks.”

WellNow Urgent CareWellNow Urgent Care
Physician Assistant and Manager
Sep 16, 2020

“I am autonomous and respected as a provider and always feel supported.”

CarePoint HealthCarePoint Health
Physician Assistant
Nov 5, 2020

“Gave up multiple opportunities to work elsewhere because I had signed a contract and made a commitment to Carepoint.”

ConcentraConcentra
Physician Assistant
Jul 13, 2021

“I've been here 2 1/2 years and feel the compensation is well above industry average.”

Revere HealthRevere Health
Physician Assistant
Apr 28, 2021

“It is a salary position and not tied to how many pts I see in a day.”

Cascadia EyeCascadia Eye
Ophthalmic Scribe
Jun 8, 2022

“I have always felt appreciated here and have been generously compensated for my work (especially considering I started with zero experience and was offered on”

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Physician Assistant Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of physician assistants

Physician assistants work under a doctor to provide patient care. These professionals are qualified to do much of the work a doctor does. A typical day of a physician assistant includes seeing and treating patients, prescribing some medication, and ordering lab tests.

Physician assistant is a top career in the United States. U.S. News lists it as #1 in Best Jobs, #1 in STEM careers, and #1 in Best Healthcare Jobs. Physician assistant job satisfaction centers around a good work-life balance, excellent salary, and chance to help people.

Yes. The average salary for a physician assistant in the U.S. is $158,907 per year, with salaries ranging from $95,385 to $265,857 a year. The type of doctor a physician assistant works under, as well as the location of the job, will impact yearly pay.

As with all healthcare jobs, working as a physician assistant comes with both high stress and high rewards. When researching how to become a physician assistant, remember that depending on where they work, physician assistants may need to clock long shifts on their feet.

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Physician Assistant Jobs