The Physician Assistant Role in Healthcare Today

Physician Assistants excel through a unique skill set and a team-based approach, helping to improve patient care in the U.S. today.

The physician assistant role is a key solution to the critical need for additional healthcare providers in the United States. They are trained in medical school, and once they complete their Master’s level education and receive national certification, physician assistants (PAs) practice medicine under the supervision of a physician or surgeon.

About the Physician Assistant RolePA examining a child in a hospital

PAs work in physician’s offices or clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, public health clinics, schools, or health care agencies. In addition to primary care or family medicine, many choose other specialties such as emergency medicine, cardiology, obstetrics, orthopedics, neurology, or psychiatry, or assisting in surgery.

In many ways, a physician assistant fills the gap between physicians and the nursing staff. They handle many of the same tasks that doctors perform, and are strictly defined and regulated by accreditation and licensure.1

In this way, “team based care” is a main component of a PA’s training, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants. PAs know how to function within a multi-disciplinary team, and generally work well in a collaborative healthcare environment. 2

Typical Responsibilities for a PA

PA responsibilities include obtaining patient health histories, performing physical examinations, ordering and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory procedures, diagnosing and treating injuries and illnesses, developing plans of care and treatment, prescribing medications, providing education and support for patients and their families, and managing the discharge process

All states require PAs to pass the National Certifying Exam to obtain and maintain their certifications, and they must keep their certifications and licenses in their respective states current as required.

Establish Your Career as a PA

At Melnic Consulting Group, we focus exclusively on helping physician assistants and other advanced practice providers find rewarding jobs in their areas of specialty. If you’d like help finding the right position for you, please contact us.


  1. The Role of the Physician Assistant. Published October 16, 2013. Accessed July 22, 2016.
  2. What is a PA? Accessed September 2, 2016.