Do you have a passion for healthcare? Are you a people person? Would you like to be on the front lines helping to provide patient care? If so, a career as a physician assistant might be a good choice for you.
Physician assistants works under the supervision of a doctor. While they may not be doctors per se, they perform many of the functions that a doctor does, such as prescribing medicine, charting a patient's progress, diagnosing patient injuries or illness, ordering and interpreting diagnostics tests, conducting physical exams, and reviewing patient's medical histories. Most physician assistants work in a doctor's offices while others work in hospitals, outpatient centers, government institutions, or educational facilities.
High school students interested in the physician assistant major should prepare for the science-based curriculum they will encounter by studying upper-level mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, and speech. Volunteer work in a healthcare facility is also encouraged. Students are also encouraged to choose a physician assistant program in college that has a strong focus on science.
The average physician assistant program is two years and requires applicants to have completed two to four years of undergraduate science-focused coursework. The training is a blend of classroom instruction and clinical practice. Once a student completes the program, they must be licensed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.