How to become a Physician Assistant

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Who is a Physician Assistant?

Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician’s supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, physician assistants 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-physician assistant relationship, the physician assistant exercises autonomy in medical decision making and provides a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A physician assistant’s practice may also include education, research and administrative services.

Evolution of physician assistants

Around 55 years back in the United States, there was a huge shortage and uneven distribution of primary care physicians. To overcome this situation and to enhance the quality medical care, Dr.Eugene Stead of the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina started the first Physician Assistant (PA) programme in the year 1960. He based the curriculum of the PA programme on his knowledge of the fast-track training of doctors during World War II. 

Evolution of PAs in India

Many medical graduates aspire for higher education both in the country and abroad to become specialists. Due to this, there constantly lies a huge vacuum in the duties performed by junior medical officers at the preliminary level. Dr.K.M.Cherian, renowned cardiac surgeon, critically looked into the Indian Health care scenario and felt the need to create a new health care provider-the ‘Physician Assistant’ to fill this vacuum. Inspired by the PAs in the US, he started the Physician Assistant training programme in 1992 in Madras Medical Mission. After that many universities came up with the PA course.

Indian association of physician assistants 

The Indian Association of Physician Assistants (IAPA) was founded in 1998 to assist Physician Assistants. The mission of IAPA is to promote excellence in medical knowledge and skills of Physician Assistants and to provide educational resources in support of that goal. 

Job Descreption of Physician assistants

  • Take medical histories
  •  Examine patients
  •  Write case summaries
  •  Order and interpret laboratory tests like X-rays, ECGs, ultra sonogram, Echocardiogram,  Treadmill tests, pulmonary function tests etc.,
  •  Make diagnosis
  •  Counsel patients
  • Take rounds
  •  Manage emergency situation until the arrival of the specialist
  •  Record progress notes
  •  Order or carry out therapy under the supervision of a specialist
  •  Prepare discharge summaries
  •  Capable of handling emergency crisis in OR
  •  Prepare operation notes
  •  Involve in postoperative management of the patients
  • Involve in wound management.

Physician Assistant Degree Programme Duration in India

Presently in India, the PA programme is a four-year degree programme (with internship in the fourth year). Students undergo integrated education that emphasizes analytical techniques required for quality patient care. The curriculum includes training in medical, managerial and communication skills and moulds the students into competent healthcare personnel. M Phil and PhD are also offered for PA graduates who are interested in pursuing higher studies and also able to get into Abroad Universities.

Prerequisites for Physician Assistant Schools or Colleges

  • Plus 2 or higher secondary education with science background
  • A Bachelor degree with science or medical background
  • Either Diploma or Bachelor’s in Nursing.
  • Four year degree program in any of the health or science related subject if you want to study abroad.

Colleges and Schools offering Physician Assistant course in India 

Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant

  1. Khatu shyam institute of management & tehnology.
  2. MMM College of Health Sciences
  3. Allied Health Sciences Department, Martin Luther Christian University, Shillong-793006
  4. Frontier Mediville, Elavur/Edoor Village, Gummidipoondi ‐ 601 201.Tamilnadu. India
  5. Sri Gokulam College of Nursing 
  6. SIMS saga institute f management studies, Malappuram
  7. AIMS ( Amrita Institute of Medical Science), Kochi
  8. Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS)
  9. Osmania University
  10. Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women
  11. Netaji Subhas Open University and Care Hospitals
  12. Vinayaka Mission University
  13. Lovely Professional University
  14. K.G College of Health Science

Registered Nurse (RN) to Physician Assistant

PGDM Caritas Physician Assistant Course for Nurses

  • Caritas Hospital, Thellakom, Kottayam, 686630,Website: www.caritashospital.org
This two year course is designed for BSc Nurses who wants to become Physician Assistants. At present the course is not affiliated to any of the universities. At the end of internship the student will be conferred “The PGDM Caritas Physician Assistant (Medicine) Diploma Certificate” by the Institution. Once  get affiliated to a university then the certificate will be conferred by the University

Physician Assistant Schools in USA and Austrlia

The Masters programme is designed for a duration of 24- 30 months in semester wise. The prerequisite is,  a four year degree program in any of the health or science related subject. ( preferably in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology etc:-)
  • UCDAVIS Betty Irene Moore school of nursing
  • University of Saint Francis
  • The University of Queensland, Australia
  • James Cook University, Australia
  • University of Florida
  • Marietta College
  • Mercy College, NY
  • University of Kentucky , College of Health Science
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Union College, USA

Job Opportunities for Physician Assistants

With its evolution and strong base in the US, this physician assistant program has huge prospects abroad in European countries such as Germany, Netherlands, Scotland, England, South Africa, Canada and Australia. If one has been wondering what career paths would help to acquire a job overseas PA program definitely might be a good choice especially in America. You can practice in different areas like,

  • Dental Physician assistant
  • Surgical Physician assistant
  • Orthopedic Physician assistant
  • Cardiac Physician assistant
  • Gastroenterology  Physician assistant
  • Oncology Physician assistant and many more…

Average Salary for Physician Assistants

To become a Physician Assistant, you’ll first need to obtain a science-related Bachelor Degree and then enroll in an accredited, specialized physician assistant program.  After your training, you’ll need to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. You must earn 100 hours of continued education every two years after your initial certification and subsequently renew your license every six years.  For you dedication to your profession and education, you can expect to earn an average salary of $82,000 to $ 95,000 as a Physician Assistant.

This is all about physician assistant course. In my opinion this programme offer a good platform for the nurses who do not wish to practice as a RN, they can enroll for PA programme as they have god knowledge on medical subjects, so look forward to  a change in career, go for it, good luck…….:)

For the list of Highly ranked Colleges for Physician Assistant Course, please click on link

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