Physician Assistant Job Description, Key Duties and Responsibilities

By | September 1, 2023
Physician Assistant job description, duties, tasks, and responsibilities
Physician Assistants provide healthcare services under the supervision of physicians. Image source:

This post provides detailed information on the physician assistant job description, to help you learn the key duties, tasks, and responsibilities that they are typically charged with.

What Does a Physician Assistant Do?

A Physician Assistant, PA, is responsible for providing direct preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic healthcare services following relevant state law, joint agreement, as well as the established hospital policies, procedures, and protocols.

The physician assistant job description entails various duties and responsibilities, including carrying out physical examination on patients and taking their full medical history. They work under the supervision of a physician or surgeon.

They also order and interpret imaging studies and laboratory tests and formulate a plan for diagnosis and treatment.

They are qualified to prescribe, dispense medication, and assist in invasive procedures, including surgery.

Their role in a medical team also includes providing advice and guidance to patients and their families on preventive healthcare.

Physician assistants work in various areas of medical practice, including primary care practice and family medicine, general internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, and psychiatric; and are found in clinics, hospitals, and other healthcare centers. Some of them also work in academic administration.

Indeed, the kind of work physician assistants do depends on the area they specialize in, the kind of duties assigned to them by their supervising physicians, and the state law regulating their practice.

For instance, in pediatrics, a physician assistant may perform such tasks as examining a child and giving scheduled vaccinations, while an assistant in surgery unit may be responsible for closing incisions and providing care to patients before and after undergoing a surgery.

In a place where medical personnel are in short supply, with physicians visiting only once or twice a week, physician assistants may provide the primary care at the clinics in such locations.

They carry out this role by conferring with physicians and other healthcare workers as required by law.

They may also visit patients in their houses to treat them, including visiting nursing homes, while giving feedback to the physician in charge and taking instructions from them.

Physician assistants are qualified to treat patients with the direction of a physician or surgeon.

This makes them different from medical assistants who are not able to treat patients, but only to carry out scheduled clerical and clinical duties.

The job of the physician assistant can be tasking both physically and emotionally as he/she is required to be on his/her feet most of the time during working periods, as he/she makes rounds and evaluates patients.

Those who work with surgeons usually stand for extended periods during surgical procedures.

Physician Assistant Job Description Example/Sample/Template

Here is a sample job description for the post of physician assistant. It shows a list of key duties, tasks, and responsibilities commonly carried out by physician assistants.

  • Carries out a review of patients’ medical history
  • Performs physical examination on patients to check their health status
  • Orders diagnostic tests, including blood tests and x-rays, and interprets the results
  • Establishes diagnoses for a patient’s illness or injuries
  • Provides treatment, including immunizing patients and mending broken bones
  • Provides counseling and education to patients and their families, including teaching them ways to care for a child having asthma
  • Prescribes needed medicines to patients
  • Takes record of patients’ progress
  • Performs research for current treatment procedures so as to provide quality care to patients
  • Takes part in outreach programs to educate people on disease management and healthy living.

Physician Assistant Job Description for Resume

The job description example above can also be useful in writing a resume for seeking the position of physician assistant.

Physician Assistant Requirements: Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities for Career Success

The following are important qualifications, skills, abilities, and other attributes usually expected of physician assistants for them to be able to effectively discharge their responsibilities:

  • Possession of a Bachelor’s degree, together with a certificate from completing an American Medical Association approved physician assistant program
  • Possession of a license to practice as physician assistant from the state where practice is to be done
  • May possess a National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) issued certificate
  • Possession of state and federal Controlled Substance Registration
  • Some clinical experience in an area of specialty
  • Ability to provide expert clinical judgment and function independently
  • Possession of exceptional communication and interpersonal skills that enable effective collaboration with physicians, staff, community health workers, patients and their families
  • Ability to work with little or no supervision, and to take initiative in handling the responsibilities of the post
  • Ability to understand complex medical information and clearly communicate it to patients and their families, medical staff, and external customers, in written and spoken format
  • Possession of conflict resolution and problem solving skills to effectively manage conflict in work environment
  • Ability to keep all sensitive and confidential information to self and out of reach to unauthorized persons.