Physician assistants provide routine health care for patients, freeing physicians to concentrate on more serious health problems.
Physician assistants examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the supervision of medical doctors.
What They Do
Physician assistants in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
- Record medical histories, examine patients, and make initial diagnoses
- Treat common illnesses or injuries, calling in supervising physicians for serious health problems
- Perform routine physical examinations and collect specimens for laboratory tests
- Order laboratory studies, such as blood tests, urinalysis, and X-rays
- Provide information to patients about diet, family planning, use of drugs, and the effect of treatments
- Provide emergency care in situations where doctors are not available
Helpful attributes include:
- Ability to express ideas clearly and concisely
- Desire to help others
- Patience with others, especially those in pain or stress
- Self-confidence and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
Job training, when available from the services, consists of classroom instruction, including practice in providing patient health care.
Course content typically includes:
- Fundamental medical care procedures
- Principles of behavioral and dental science
- Health care administration techniques
Physician assistants work in hospitals and clinics on land and aboard ships.
Civilian physician assistants work in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes. They perform duties similar to those performed by military physician assistants.