A physician assistant (PA) is a HealthCare professional licensed to practice medicine with supervision of a licensed Physician. A physician assistant is concerned with preventing, maintaining, and treating human illness and injury by providing a broad range of health care services that are traditionally performed by a physician. Physician assistants conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on Preventive Care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions.
A graduate from an accredited PA program must pass the NCCPA-administered Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) before becoming a PA-C; this certification is required for licensure in all states. In addition, a PA must earn and log 100 Continuing Medical Education (CME) hours and reregister his or her certificate with the NCCPA every two years.
According to the AAPA, there were an estimated 68,124 PAs in clinical practice as of January 2008. In the 2008 AAPA census, 56 percent of responding PAs worked in physicians' offices or clinics and 24 percent were employed by hospitals. The remainder were employed in public health clinics, nursing homes, schools, prisons, home health care agencies, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
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