What is a PA?

What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?
According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants:
“Physician assistants (PAs) are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in rural and urban settings. 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 prescribe medications.
The PA’s responsibilities depend on the type of practice, his or her experience, the working relationship with physicians and other health care providers, and state laws.”

How is a PA educated?
Most PAs have Master’s degrees. The typical PA program consists of 2 years of classroom education and 1 year of clinical rotations in all areas of medicine, with a strong focus on primary care. Graduates must pass the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam, prior to applying for state licensure.

The PAs at Sweet Home Family Medicine hold Master’s degrees, are certified nationally, and registered with the state of New York. Furthermore, they have been trained by Dr. Usen to meet the specific needs of this practice and work closely with Dr. Usen in providing patient care and management.

Are physician assistants in training to become doctors?
No, being a physician assistant is a career in itself as the education/training process to become a PA typically ranges from 5-7 years. Rarely do physician assistants ever return to school to become medical doctors. The purpose of the PA profession is to provide an extension of the physician’s services to patients and make healthcare more accessible- not to be a stepping stone to medical school.

What do I call my PA?
It is appropriate for you to call your PA by his/her first name.