All Physician assistants (PA-Cs) are qualified by graduation from an accredited physician assistant educational program and certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA-C’s responsibilities may also include education, research, and administrative services. Physician assistants work wherever physicians or health care organizations employ them. They can be found in virtually all health care settings.
Physician assistants can take medical histories, perform physical exams, order and interpret laboratory tests, diagnose and treat illnesses, counsel patients, assist in surgery, and set fractures. Physician assistants are educated as generalists in medicine; all programs emphasize primary care. Although their education and credentialing are based on a primary care foundation, PA-Cs can work in specialty fields, such as cardiovascular surgery, orthopedics, and emergency medicine. The largest proportion opt for the primary care specialty areas of family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.