How to Become a Physician Assistant in Washington
Many people interested in a high paying and rewarding career in the health care field consider becoming a physician’s assistant. These professionals work along with physicians and other health care professionals to deliver good patient care. However, there is a great deal of education and training that must be completed before you can begin your career.
Physician assistants gain their certification by training in a school or program approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. There are several physician assistant schools in Washington. While all have slightly different requirements, they all generally require a bachelor’s degree as well as experience working in health care. Admissions to physician assistant programs in Washington State is competitive, so it is important to have high grades and get several letters of recommendation when you apply.
Physician assistant school is a 26 month program. There are two general sections. In the first 12 months, students learn medical science such as anatomy, pathology, and pharmacology. For the remaining time, they are trained in the field. They undergo a short rotation in every major medical specialty and learn the essential skills needed for their job. This is very similar to the training given to physicians, except that it is shorter.
Attaining Certifications and Licenses
After completing schools, physician assistants in Washington must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. This test, also called the PANCE, is necessary for the newly graduated physician assistant to work in Washington state. Physician assistant schools in Washington will help their students to review and study for this test. Once a student has passed the exam, they may call themselves a PA-C, of certified physician assistant, and begin working in the field.
As in all medical fields, physician assistants in Washington must participate in continuing education courses to keep their skills fresh and learn about new medical techniques. Every 24 months, physician assistants are required to complete 100 continuing education credits from an authorized source. In addition, they must retake their PANCE exam every six years. This ensures that all physician assistants have the skills they need to deliver excellent patient care.
In addition to mandatory continuing education, physician assistants have many optional educational opportunities. After working for two years, they may begin training for a specialty such as pediatrics.
Physician Assistant Salary in Washington
Physician assistants must have a large amount of training and thus are well paid. The average salary is over $90,000 a year. The highest paid physician assistants work for hospitals and for home health services. In addition, physician assistants who have specialized in a particular field earn more as well. The wages are expected to rise because the demand for these professionals is rising as well.
Physician Assistant Job Duties
A physician assistant can perform many of the duties that physicians perform. They practice under the supervision of a physician and often work along side them. They can examine patients, make a diagnosis, treat them, and prescribe medication. While they are ‘supervised’ by a doctor technically, they do not have to be watched by a physician and are given a great deal of autonomy and respect.
What Tasks Is a Physician Assistant in Washington Allowed to Perform?
A physician assistant is allowed to perform almost all aspects of a normal “doctor’s appointment.” They can give the same medical care as a doctor. For example, a physician assistant can perform a well child check-up, a Pap smear, or diagnose a patient’s sore throat. In addition, physician assistants are allowed to perform stitches and other routine emergency room tasks. All physician assistants perform slightly different duties according to the needs of their workplace. They can perform about 4/5 of the procedures that a physician can perform.
Becoming a physician assistant requires a lot of education and training, but the career is well worth it. These medical professionals work alongside doctors and are an integral part of the health care team. It is the perfect profession for someone who wishes to work in a leadership role in health care but does not wish to invest more than a decade in physician training.