What is a PA?

A physician assistant (PA) is a licensed to practice medicine in collaboration with a supervising physician in a variety of health care settings.

The relationship between PAs and physicians begins in PA school where physicians, PAs and others provide instruction in a curriculum following the medical school model.  PA students typically share classes, facilities and clinical rotations with medical students.

After graduation, PAs are certified upon passing the national exam administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).  To maintain certification, PAs must obtain 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years (as physician must do), obtain an additional 12 hours of pharmacology continuing medical education every two years and successfully complete a national recertification exam every ten years.

Physicians may delegate to PAs those medical duties that are within the physician’s scope of practice and the PA’s training and experience and state law.  Such duties include performing physical examinations, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting lab tests, assisting in surgery and making rounds in nursing homes and hospitals.  Physicians may also delegate prescriptive privileges to the PAs they supervise.

PAs are licensed and regulated by the Ohio State Medical Board, the same as physicians.