What Do Physician Assistants Do?
Physician assistants (PAs) are health care professionals who practice medicine under the supervision of physicians and surgeons. Working as members of a health care team, PAs take medical histories, examine and treat patients, order and interpret laboratory tests and x-rays, instruct and counsel patients, make diagnoses, and prescribe certain medications.
Many PAs work in primary care specialties, such as general internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine. Other specialty areas such as general and thoracic surgery, emergency medicine, orthopedics, and geriatrics. PAs specializing in surgery provide preoperative and postoperative care and may work as first or second assistants during major surgery.
For more information on physician assistants, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physician-assistants.htm.
Where Do Physician Assistants Work?
Most PAs work in doctors’ offices. PAs also work in general medical and surgical hospitals and in outpatient care centers, including health clinics, health maintenance organizations, federal or state government institutions, and in colleges and schools.
What Do Physician Assistants Earn?
According to the 2019 BLS, the average salary for full time physician assistants nationwide was $224,820, varying by specialty and geographic region. Average annual salary also varies greatly across New York State, depending on location. The NYSDOL reports that physician assistants in New York also earned an average annual salary of $123,080, (entry level-$89,590, experienced- $160,960).
Supply and Demand
Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that from 2016 to 2026, the number of PA jobs nationwide will increase by 37.3% and in New York will increase by 43.4%.
Job opportunities for PAs should be very good for many years, particularly in rural and inner-city hospitals and clinics because those settings have difficulty attracting physicians. Also, as more physicians enter specialty areas of medicine, there will be a greater need for primary health care providers, such as PAs. And as the U.S. population ages, PAs are expected to have an increasing role in keeping older adults healthy and caring for them when they get ill.
Rapid job growth for PAs also reflects the expansion of the health care industry and an emphasis on cost containment. PAs offer a cost-effective approach to increase routine health care services since they can relieve physicians of routine duties and procedures. Health care providers are also expected to use more physician assistants in new ways as states continue to allow assistants to do more procedures.
For more information on projections for PAs by New York State labor regions, (2014-2024), click here.
Educational Program Requirements
Although education programs’ admission requirements vary, most applicants to PA education programs already have a bachelor’s degree and some prior health care work experience, such as being a registered nurse, emergency medical technician (EMT), or paramedic.
PA education programs usually take at least two years and typically lead to a master’s degree, although some offer a bachelor’s degree. Coursework will include biology, pathology, biochemistry, human anatomy, physiology, clinical pharmacology, clinical medicine, physical diagnosis, and medical ethics, as well as a supervised clinical training rotation in a medical facility.
PA education programs must be approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistants (ARC-PA). All states require PAs to complete an accredited, formal education program and pass a national exam to obtain a license.
For more information on accredited PA programs, go to: http://www.arc-pa.org.
New York Licensure Requirements
To be licensed as a PA in New York, an individual must be a graduate of an ARC-PA accredited or New York State Education Department approved PA education program and must pass the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE).For more information on PANCE, go to the National Commission of Certification of Physician Assistants at: http://www.nccpa.net.
For more information on New York State licensure requirements, go to: http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/med/rpa.htm.
For more information about PA scholarships and fellowships from the PA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, go to the PA Foundation Web site, http://www.pa-foundation.org/, and click on the Scholarships and Foundations tab.
Education Programs in New York (subject to change)
|Albany Medical College
Center for Physician Assistant Studies
47 New Scotland Ave.
Albany, NY 12208
|SUNY Upstate Medical University
College of Health Professions
790 Irving Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13210
320 Porter Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14202
4380 Main Street
Amherst, NY 14226
113 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
1419 Salt Springs Road
Syracuse, NY 13214
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
|New York Institute of Technology
Old Westbury, NY 11568
Lenox Hill Hospital PA Program
163 William Street, 5th floor
New York, NY 10038
College of Health Professions
861 Bedford Rd
Pleasantville, NY 10570
|SUNY Downstate Medical Center
College of Health Related Professions
450 Clarkson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11203
|St. John’s University
College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
8000 Utopia Pkwy
Jamaica, NY 11439
|SUNY Stony Brook
School of Health Tech & Mgmt
101 Nicolls Rd
Stony Brook, NY 11794
|Long Island University
School of Health Professions
1 University Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11201
|The City College of New York
CUNY School of Medicine
160 Convent Avenue
New York, NY 10031
School of Health Sciences
1700 Union Boulevard
Bay Shore, NY 11706
Nassau Univ Medical Center Ext Site
2201 Hempstead Tpke
East Meadow, NY 11554
232 W 40th St
Manhattan, NY 10018
One Campus Road
Staten Island, NY 10301
Graduate School of Medical Sciences
570 Lexington Ave, 9th Fl
New York, NY 10022
94-20 Guy Brewer Blvd
Jamaica, NY 11451
8 Clarkson Ave
Potsdam, NY 13699
3399 North Rd.
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
|Rochester Institute of Technology
College of Health Sciences & Technology
153 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623
Additional Web Links
For more information on PAs, go to:
American Academy of Physician Assistants: http://www.aapa.org
New York State Society of Physician Assistants: http://www.nysspa.org
To learn more about physician assistants, check out this video.