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Field Report

Essay by   •  March 6, 2011  •  1,497 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,007 Views

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Physician Assistant Field Experience

INTRODUCTION

Today, physician assistants function as the doctor's right-hand man(or woman), backup, or in some cases, their substitute. Sometimes I wonder what the difference between a physician assistant and a doctor really is. According to T.J. Sacks, “Within the limits of their expertise, physician assistants provide care that is the equivalent in quality to the care provided by the family physician”(Sacks, 2002, pg. 165). The physician who supervises the PA is the one responsible for the physician assistant's performance. The physician assistant assists the physician in a variety of medical performances such as ordering common laboratory tests, giving injections, and applying casts to give the physician more time to diagnose and treat their more severely hurt patients. To become a physician assistant you would want to have a desire to work with and for other people, have a high emotional maturity level with a strong sense of compassion, and have a logical thinking style. I am researching this field because it is of high interest to me. I love working with people, and the knowing that you have helped someone out in any way just makes you feel all the better. Some questions that I have though, are 1.) What does it take to get into a PA program/school? 2.) How many jobs will be available by the time I will be looking for a job? 3.) What is the pay like?

METHOD

The methods that I chose to use to find answers to my questions were an interview with my family's PA, reference books from the Rod Library, and the internet. I interviewed a physician assistant named Elaine Kuns, who works at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo. She works as my family doctor's PA. She was very nice and clued me in on a number of very interesting materials. She even let me shadow her for a couple of hours. She attended the University of North Dakota school of Medicine and Health Sciences. She also stated that she only went there for about one year. Dr. Elaine Kuns stated that she was lucky to be given the chance for her job because she never really had to go through the tough PA program. She started out as a Nurse, and after many years of experience, she was offered the job she has now. Dr. Kuns said that this would never happen now because of the strict courses and pre requisites. Yes, this interview and shadowing experience really boosted my knowledge of this field, but so did many books.

I used many different reference books from the Rod Library, all of which gave me information on work settings, the prerequisites, and the salary of a physician assistant. One book was that of J.B. Labus, a book about exploring the health field. The Internet was an okay method to find quality information about physician assistants because I really couldn't find any that were what I thought to be legit. Most of my insight on physician assistants now comes from my shadowing experience.

Results

Getting into a PA school is very difficult. If you really want to get in, you need to strive for good grades in high school and in college. To apply for admission to a two-year program, you should have at least two years of college or a bachelor's degree. It is not easy to get into a PA school since many schools receive three or four applications per opening. Once accepted, you are looking to begin about twenty-four months of intense medical training. The education program is divided into two separate parts. The first part usually lasts from six to twelve months. It covers basic and advanced clinical sciences. They include courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, microbiology, and electrocardiography. The second part usually lasts from nine to fifteen months and includes clinical rotations in many clinical disciplines at hospitals, clinics, and physicians offices. You would mostly give emphasis on primary care. (Wischnitzer, 2005, pg. 166). The closest PA schools around where I live are the University of Iowa College of Medicine and Des Moines University Osteopathic Medical Center. These are the first two schools I would apply to after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelors degree in biology. The demand for physician assistants has greatly increased in the last few years. “Currently there are eight opening positions available for every physician assistant graduate.”(D'Orazio, Snook Jr. 27). They also say that there could be a 50% increase over the next decade. (See Figure 1.1)

Discussion

After researching the working field of physician assistants, I believe that it is the field I want to work in. It's the helping people and making their day a whole lot better that makes me want to do this job everyday. There is always something new you would have to deal with, a new adventure. It sure is a lot of work and schooling to be able to get to where you have to be in order to continue your career, but it's all worth it. By the time I graduate from a PA program their will be a huge demand for them everywhere. This is the part I cannot wait for.

Appendix

Figure 1.1

Note. This graph shows that in the next few years the graduation rate of students wanting to pursue a career in the PA field will decrease, meaning more job openings and demand.

References

D'Orazio, L. P., & Snook, I. D. (2005). Opportunities in Health and Medical Careers. 15-28.

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