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Physician Assistants A physician assistant or PA is a healthcare professional who practices medicine on a team with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers (BLS). This profession started in the mid-1960’s because there was a lack of primary care physicians (AAPA). Eugene A. Stead Jr. was responsible for its start. As medical director of the medical center at Duke University at the time. Eugene, along with many of his co-workers, decided to create this profession.  To begin this program, four Navy Corpsmen were selected based on the amount of combat training they had received. The curriculum, was based off of the training received by doctors during WWII and the first class graduated on October 26, 1967. A few years later PA’s were acclaimed and gained the support of the federal government.Nowadays to become a PA, you start by taking courses necessary for a job in the medical field. Such as, chemistry, physiology, anatomy, biology, and microbiology. Many schools require some kind of medical background along with hands-on experience. These can range from a medical assistant to a paramedic. People normally have at least a bachelor’s degree, plus 3 years of medical background before pursuing this career.After entering the program it typically takes about 3 years to finish. During this time students learn about anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, physics , microbiology, biology, behavioral science, and medical ethics (Physician 1). As well as, at least 2,000 hours of clinical rotations, which focuses on primary care. A lot of the things they learn is modeled on the curriculum of med schools; PA’s learn to make lifesaving decisions when working individually or with a group of other members of the healthcare team. After completing this, they may graduate and be eligible for certification. To get certified they must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam or PANCE for short. It is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Then it’s time to join the workforce. During their careers, PA’s typically practice in a few different areas, allowing them to gain experience and the flexibility to meet the needs of their changing worlds.A normal day for a PA could include taking medical history’s of patients, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering lab test and X-rays plus interpreting the results, and prescribing medication. Depending on who the PA’s work under and how they do things, could change their workday schedule. For example, some PA’s work in specialty areas like thoracic surgery or emergency medicine while others work in regular doctors offices. The majority of PA’s work in primary care areas like family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics. PA’s specializing in surgery provide care before and after surgery , as well as work as first or second assistants in major surgeries.The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% job growth rate for the profession through 2024 (BLS 1). At this time, there are about 94,000 PA’s working all over the U.S. Organizations are expected to hire more PA’s to care for the patients as well as help with procedures. PA’s reduce the amount of minor cases physicians have to deal with. Physician assistants usually work in comfortable environments. However, people who work in surgery may stand for long periods of time and do a lot of walking. Based on the practice or the hours of the collaborating physician the schedules could vary, but the normal workweek of a PA may include nights and early morning hospital rounds, and potential weekends.Research has shown that PA’s improve hospital rates, decrease the length of time people stay, and decrease the risk of infection (AAPA). A Harris Poll found that people who deal with PA’s have an incredibly high satisfaction rate. 93-percent of people surveyed regard PA’s as trustworthy healthcare providers. 92 percent think that PA’s make it easier to make appointments, and 91 percent think that PAs improve the quality of healthcare (AAPA). In 2010, The Affordable Care Act was passed. This act recognized PA’s, as one of three primary care providers, for the first time. It included nurse practitioners and physicians. It also allowed PA’s to lead medical teams that focused on patients. Team-based care is very important to a PA’s training. PA’s can practice individually or as a group with other members of a healthcare team. To become a Physician assistant is not easy and it’s not meant to be. People don’t want just anyone helping them, especially when it comes to their health. They want someone who knows what they’re doing. This is why PA’s go through such intense and rigorous schooling before stepping into a hospital room to consult with patients. Even after they graduate PA’s continue schooling to keep up with the changing world around them. PA’s are needed, without them, it would all be up to the leading physician or whomever they’re working under to see everyone, making their jobs a lot harder and visits to doctors offices a lot worse. A major reason people look into this profession because it pays so good coming in at $101, 480 as of last year (BLS). However, PA’s work hard to earn pay like that. They have all the school, their certifications, continued school after graduation, stressful situations they deal with in hospital rooms. Personally I do think I would like to pursue this job in the future. I feel like I would enjoy the work and being able to help people while still having a life. Being able to go do things on the weekends or even just staying home with a wife and kids are things I look forward to in the future and I believe this job would allow me to do that. Plus the annual salary is good as well.  Overall, physician assistants play a vital role in our society and in our lives.

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