Physician Assistants (PAs) are health professionals who are nationally certified and state licensed to practice medicine and prescribe medication in every medical and surgical specialty and setting. PAs practice and prescribe in 50 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories with the exception of Puerto Rico. PAs are educated at the graduate level, receiving a Master's degree or higher. In order to maintain national certification, PAs are required to recertify as medical generalists every 10 years and complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years.
PA education is modeled on physician education and PAs perform a comprehensive range of medical duties, from basic primary care to high-technology specialty procedures. PAs often act as first or second assistants in major surgery and provide pre- and postoperative care.
In some rural areas where physicians are in short supply, PAs serve as the primary providers of health care, collaborating with physicians and other medical professionals as needed and as required by law.
PAs are typically educated at the master's graduate level; by 2020 a master's degree will be required for all new entrants to the profession. After graduation, PAs must obtain certification with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) and work with a supervisory physician.
According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota is ranked third among states with the highest occupational demand for physician assistants, producing occupational vacancies at the rate of 80 new jobs per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for PAs will grow by 39 percent between 2008 and 2018.
The College of St. Scholastica
1200 Kenwood Ave.
Duluth, MN 55811