Physician assistants (PA) work directly under a doctor of medicine or osteopathy and perform a wide variety of health care services that are regulated under state law. Their duties may include: taking medical histories, performing physical examinations, ordering laboratory tests and X-rays, assisting in surgery, applying casts and bandages, making tentative diagnoses, directing treatments, recommending medications, treating minor injuries, and giving pre- and postoperative care. PAs also provide patient education when appropriate.
According to the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants, Physician assistants are educated in intensive medical programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The average PA program curriculum runs approximately 26 months. There are currently more than 130 accredited programs. All PA programs must meet the same ARC-PA standards.
Because of the close working relationship PAs have with physicians, PAs are educated in a medical model designed to complement physician training. PA students are taught, as are medical students, to diagnose and treat medical problems. Education consists of classroom and laboratory instruction in the basic medical and behavioral sciences (such as anatomy, pharmacology, pathophysiology, clinical medicine, and physical diagnosis), followed by clinical rotations in internal medicine, family medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, and geriatric medicine.
PAs receive their national certification from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Only graduates of an accredited PA program are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Once a PA is certified, he/she must complete a continuous six-year cycle to keep her/his certificate current. Every two years, a PA must earn and log 100 CME hours and reregister her/his certificate with the NCCPA (second and fourth years), and by the end of the sixth year, recertify by successfully completing either the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Examination (PANRE) or Pathway II. All states require passage of the PANCE for state licensure. Forty-five states have provisions for new graduates to practice prior to passage of PANCE.
Click on the following to link to Texas physician assistant programs:
Click the following link for a list of the physician assistant prerequisite courses at SFA: