What exactly is a "PA-C"?

When going to a doctor's office, you may have seen medical providers that do not have the designation M.D. (Medical Doctor) after their name. Do you ever wonder what "PA-C" means? It stands for Physician Assistant, the "C" means that they have been certified by the National Commission of Certification of PAs.

PAs are state licensed health care providers who work in close collaboration with physicians to improve access to healthcare and to provide patients with many of the services traditionally provided by physicians. Educational requirements for a PA include an undergraduate degree followed by a master's degree in a certified PA program. PAs practice in all fields of medicine and in all states. PAs work closely under the supervision of a physician to provide health care. The care provided by PAs varies depending on their training and the discretion of the supervising physician. While some PAs work in primary care, some others choose to practice in a more specialized field. Dermatology trained PAs can perform some of the same duties and procedures as dermatologist. They can perform skin checks and treat a multitude of skin conditions.

The relationship between a physician and a PA is based on trust and mutual respect. The dermatologist and the dermatology PA are part of the dermatology care team and, as such, their mutual goal is to provide the highest level of care to patients in the clinic. Patients should know that PAs work closely with a dermatologist and should know that the physician is always available to the PA for consultation when needed. At times, the PA may even ask the physician to assume the care of more complicated cases if these are outside the scope of practice of the PA. When seeing a dermatology PA, it is important to know if they have maintained their certification and if they have been trained by a board certified dermatologist. At Warrenton Dermatology, our board-certified M.D. is fortunate to practice side-by-side with two amazing PA-Cs. Not only are they smart and competent but compassionate and dedicated to our mission.

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