A Physician Assistant (PA) is a healthcare professional who is trained and licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician.
A Physician Assistant is concerned with preventing, maintaining, and treating human illness and injury by providing a broad range of health care services that were traditionally performed by a physician. Physician Assistants conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, give medical orders and write prescriptions.
Physician assistants work in hospitals, clinics and other types of health facilities, and exercise autonomy in medical decision making as determined by their supervising physician. A Bachelor's degree, often Master's degree, and clinical internship precede obtaining a license to practice as a Physician Assistant. Renewal of licensure is necessary every few years, varying by state. They are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training, rather than in the nursing model. Physician assistants are not to be confused with medical assistants, who perform administrative and simple clinical tasks with limited postsecondary education under the direct supervision of physicians and other health professionals. In the United States, the profession is represented by the American Academy of Physician Assistants..