The Physician Assistant Will See You Now

October 6-12 is National Physician Assistants (PA) Week, a time to recognize and celebrate the vital role PAs play in delivering high quality healthcare to patients of all ages. They are beneficial to the overall functioning and success of many medical practices, but how are these skilled healthcare professionals different from doctors, and why would you ever need to see one?

Physician assistants are nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals who are closely supervised by a doctor. While they do not have a medical doctorate degree, they do hold a master’s degree from an accredited PA program and are specifically trained and qualified to perform many of the same functions as a physician. They examine and diagnose patients, order lab tests, develop treatment plans, write prescriptions, and assist with surgical procedures.

PAs typically see established patients for routine health maintenance, minor illnesses, injuries, or well visits, thereby helping to free up physicians’ time to treat those needing critical care for more serious conditions. From a patient viewpoint, seeing a PA for basic office visits and minor ailments is of great value because of easier access, shorter wait times, and equally successful health outcomes due to the collaborative relationship the PA maintains with the patient’s physician.

“Physician assistants are incredibly hardworking and valuable members of the multidisciplinary healthcare team at Harbin Clinic,” said Dr. Ken Davis, President and CEO of Harbin Clinic. “Each highly trained PA functions as a vital extension of his or her supervising doctor, helping to alleviate some of the pressure for overloaded physicians so patients can be seen faster and get on the road to recovery sooner.”

While specific qualifications vary by state, PAs typically complete a rigorous 26-month program that requires the same prerequisite courses as medical schools and often calls for prior hands-on healthcare experience. Students must also complete more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in a variety of specialties, including emergency medicine, family medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and psychiatry. After passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), PAs are required to complete 100 hours of ongoing education courses every two years and take the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Exam (PANRE) every 10 years, which ensures PAs are very well-rounded in the care they provide.

PAs practice in a variety of healthcare settings including community health centers, correctional institutions, federal government agencies, hospitals, nursing homes, private practices, and retail clinics, just to name a few. They help make it possible for medical practices to improve efficiency and see a higher volume of patients, which can positively impact a healthcare organization’s bottom line.

Together, Harbin Clinic doctors and PAs across all specialties form a dynamic healthcare team that is dedicated to caring completely for you and your family. No matter which qualified member of our medical team you see, you can rest assured that you are in good hands! For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 888.427.2461 or visit