Health Guide USA
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U.S. Physician Assistant Programs

U.S. Physician Assistant Programs provide required entry level and advanced professional physician assistant training. Physician assistants, working under the supervision of physicians or surgeons, have become an increasingly important part of the U.S. healthcare delivery system. In all states professional licensing requirements include completion of entry level training at an accredited physician assistant program.

In 2007, 136 U.S. Physician Assistant Programs were accredited or provisionally accredited by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. More than 90 of these programs offered the option of a masterís degree, and the rest offered either a bachelorís degree or an associate degree. Most physician assistant program applicants already have a bachelorís degree.

The curricula at U.S. Physician Assistant Programs includes classroom instruction in biochemistry, pathology, human anatomy, physiology, microbiology, clinical pharmacology, clinical medicine, geriatric and home health care, disease prevention and diagnosis, medical ethics, molecular and genetic disease mechanisms, patient safety, patient education and health policy.

Integral to a physician assistant education is extensive supervised clinical training in several areas, including family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, prenatal care and gynecology, geriatrics, emergency medicine, psychiatry, and pediatrics. Clinical training is intended to give students exposure to a cross section of patients, so it will include patients of all ages, both males and females (including gynecological and prenatal care), patients needing surgical care and those needing care for behavioral health conditions.  Similarly, clinical training will designed to give students exposure to varied clinical settings and will include supervised work at inpatient and outpatient settings, operating rooms and emergency departments.  Sometimes, students in U.S. Physician Assistant Programs serve one or more of these rotations under the supervision of a physician who is seeking to hire a PA. The rotations often lead to permanent employment.

Most applicants to U.S. Physician Assistant Programs have a prior bachelorís degree and some healthcare-related work experience, often times as registered nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), or paramedics. Nevertheless, admissions requirements vary from program to program, so interested applicants need to check specific U.S. Physician Assistant Programs for their respective admission requirements.

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