A young physician assistant assists an elderly patient

what is a PA?

In 2008, Minnesota workforce projections indicated a 43.5 percent increase in physician assistant employment needs by 2019.

Career Advancement

Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed health professionals who perform medical services traditionally performed by physicians, including:

  • Taking medical histories
  • Performing physical exams
  • Ordering laboratory tests
  • Diagnosing illnesses
  • Treating illnesses
  • Counseling patients
  • Assisting in surgery
  • Writing prescriptions

PAs work under the supervision of licensed physicians and work in healthcare settings such as hospitals and clinics.

Training and certification

PA programs are accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission for Physician Assistant programs. The average PA curriculum runs 26 months. ┬áPAs must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants ( NCCPA).

Students are eligible to take the exam after completing an accredited Physician Assistant program. Graduate-level preparation is considered the standard of education for PAs.

Job outlook

According to the 2008 Minnesota Department of Employment Labor Market Information Office, the projected employment growth for the PA profession from 2009-2019 is 43.5 percent, particularly in rural and inner-city facilities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections through 2018, physician assistants are among the top 10 fastest growing occupations.

Learn more about the national employment outlook for PAs ┬╗