Physician assistants practice medicine under the guidance of a doctor.
They are licensed health-care professionals who can perform physical exams,
diagnose illnesses, order treatments and assist in surgeries.
A physician assistant (PA) can specialize in different areas. For example,
a PA working with a surgeon would have training in surgical techniques and
pre- and post-operative care.
In the U.S., the duties performed by a physician assistant vary. For example,
up to 80 percent of a physician's work can be done by a PA. In some states,
PAs can even write prescriptions.
Physician assistants aren't nurses. PAs share responsibilities with doctors
and are trained to diagnose and treat illnesses.
PAs can work in medical offices, hospitals, academic medical centers, public
clinics and even in prisons. In each case, they work under the supervision
of the physician.
Because people get sick and require attention both day and night, some
PAs must work weekends and nights and be on call. Physician assistants working
in a doctor's office may not have to work the extra hours required of a PA
working in a hospital setting.
Generally, PAs work in clean, comfortable environments and don't have to
do any heavy lifting. However, those working in surgery may have to be on
their feet for long periods of time.
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