Physician Assistant Schools Colleges & Universities

Find degree programs at physician assistants colleges and schools to prepare for a career in medicine and healthcare.

Physicians Assistant Schools, Colleges, and Universities: If you'd like to practice medicine and can't spend the time or money on completing medical school, consider a career in physician assisting. Licensed physician assistants perform many of the duties of a doctor, including administering preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic healthcare directly to patients. You work under the supervision of a physician, but you can perform general internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine. In communities where there is a shortage of doctors, you may be the single provider of medical care.

Physicans assistants work in doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, care facilities, and for governmental organizations.

Degrees in Physician Assisting: According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, there are more than 140 physician assistants colleges and schools offering accredited 26-month programs leading to a degree. Classroom and laboratory instruction is typically offered in:

  • • Anatomy
  • • Pharmacology
  • • Pathophysiology
  • • Clinical Medicine
  • • and Physical Diagnosis.

Some 80 of the accredited programs offering degrees in physician assisting have an option for a master's degree, 20 offer bachelor degrees, and eight offer associate degrees or diplomas. Physician assistants schools also offer continuing education and post-graduate degree programs that are required of practicing physician assistants to retain or renew their licenses.

All states require licenses, and you must have graduated from programs at physician assistants schools in order to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.

Requirements for admission to physician assistants colleges vary by the institution and the level of degree that is offered. For example, Hofstra University requires applicants to have completed courses in general biology, chemistry, biochemistry, human physiology, statistics, microbiology, and genetics or cell biology. The University of Iowa requires applicants to have completed general biology or zoology, general and organic chemistry, biochemistry, a minimum of three upper-level courses in the natural sciences (including upper-division human, animal, or exercise physiology), and statistics.

Admissions may be competitive. At Iowa, only 25 of the 630 applicants in May 2010 were admitted.

After Graduation: Salaries and Job Projections: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2008, 74,800 licensed physician assistants worked around the country. In 2009, they earned a median annual wage of $84,420, while those at the top end of the wage scale took home $115,080.

Strong growth is expected during the 2008-2018 decade, the BLS predicts. Jobs will grow by 39, with openings especially in rural communities or in cities where cost-containment is an issue, with physician assistants assuming more of the patient load.

Physician Assistants Schools and Growing Your Career: Having the desire to continue learning for a lifetime is an indispensable asset in the profession. Physician assistants will need ongoing education and practical experience to remain competitive in the workplace and retain licensing by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. You may want to enroll in an advanced degree program to expand your responsibilities--and earnings potential.

Another way to succeed is to take specialized courses in fields, including:

  • • Rural Primary Care
  • • Emergency Medicine
  • • Surgery
  • • Pediatrics
  • • Gerontology
  • • Neonatology

Physician assistants colleges can prepare you for a satisfying career in making a difference in the lives of people in your community.

The writer Woodrow Aames has written articles and profiles for Yahoo, Microsoft Network, Microsoft Encarta, and other websites and print magazines around the world. He holds an MFA degree and has taught English abroad.

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