What is a Dermatology Physician Assistant?
Physician Assistants are health care professionals licensed (or, in the case of those employed by the federal government, they are credentialed) to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision- making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA’s practice may also include education, research, and administrative services.
PAs are trained in intensive education programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
Because of the close working relationship the PAs have with physicians, PAs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. Upon graduation, physician assistants take a national certification examination developed by the National Commission on Certification of PAs in conjunction with the National Board of Medical Examiners. To maintain their national certification, PAs must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and sit for a recertification every six years. Graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licensure.
How is a Physician Assistant educated?
Physician assistants are educated in intensive medical programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The average PA program curriculum runs approximately 26 months. There are approximately 140 accredited programs. All PA programs must meet the same ARC-PA standards.
Because of the close working relationship PAs have with physicians, PAs are educated in a medical model designed to complement physician training. PA students are taught, as are medical students, to diagnose and treat medical problems.
Education consists of classroom and laboratory instruction in the basic medical and behavioral sciences (such as anatomy, pharmacology, pathophysiology, clinical medicine, and physical diagnosis), followed by clinical rotations in internal medicine, family medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, and geriatric medicine.
A PA’s education doesn’t stop after graduation, though. PAs are required to take ongoing continuing medical education classes and be retested on their clinical skills on a regular basis. A number of postgraduate PA programs have also been established to provide practicing PAs with advanced education in medical specialties.
Can PAs prescribe medicine?
Yes. In all fifty states PAs are able to prescribe medicine.
For more information, visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants