About this Career
People who succeed as physician assistants enjoy direct patient contact, have a passion for medicine, and embrace challenges. Physician assistants are highly qualified licensed health care professionals who practice medicine with physician supervision. Physician assistants participate in a demanding academic and clinical curriculum that prepares them for the complexities of their career. Physician assistants are trained to elicit medical histories, perform physical exams, order and interpret diagnostic studies, perform clinical procedures and formulate patient treatment and management plans.
Physician assistants practice in all areas of medicine and surgery. Opportunities exist in primary care offices (pediatrics, family practice and internal medicine), medical sub-specialty offices such as cardiology, gastroenterology and endocrinology, as well as general surgery and surgical sub-specialty practices such as cardiothoracic surgery and orthopedics.
Physician assistants work in various settings including inpatient, outpatient, nursing homes, urgent care centers and emergency rooms.
Although physician assistants can be found in all areas of medicine and surgery, the physician assistant program at SUNY Upstate has a focus on primary care in medically underserved and rural areas of Upstate New York.
The physician assistant profession is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States today. Graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the national certification exam are required for state licensure. The certification exam, developed by the National Commission on Certification of PAs, is usually taken by students within the first few weeks of graduation. To maintain their national certification, PAs must log 100 hours of continuing medical education credits every two years and pass the national recertification exam every ten years.