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You’re ready for career advancement and growth opportunities with 4-5 years of nursing experience under your belt. If you’re still figuring out what nursing specialty to pursue, consider becoming a Physician Assistant (PA). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of PAs will grow 31% percent by 2030 [1]. Currently, California ranks second, employing 9% of the nation’s total Physician Assistant jobs [2].

A Physician Assistant job in California promises a fulfilling career for nurses who are pursuing advanced medicine. Additionally, PAs are leaders in patient care with their technical background in clinical services. Learn more about the Physician Assistant role and responsibilities, educational requirements and nursing specialties to pursue.

Nurses can apply to available Physician Assistant jobs in the Coachella Valley, California by visiting this direct link:

What is the role of a Physician Assistant in a hospital?

Physician Assistants play a key role in a health care team. Oftentimes, they work independently from the supervising physician or surgeon. They have the autonomy to provide direct patient care. With advanced knowledge in medicine, they can diagnose common illnesses, perform minor procedures and prescribe medicine. PAs prove to be reliable support when a health care facility faces a nursing shortage with steady patient in-take and out-take.

What’s the difference between a Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner?

A Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner are often confused as the same role. The differences are subtle, but the training and specialization are what make each job unique. Nurse Practitioners typically focus on one nursing specialty and have a patient-centered approach. On the other hand, Physician Assistants have the freedom to specialize in multiple areas with a disease-centered approach.

In summary, a PA is responsible for generating the same results for patients with similar conditions. This is important when Physician Assistants work in the main surgical, urgent care, or radiation therapy. They’re also granted the ability to treat patients following the main point of visit. For example, if a recovering surgical patient has a negative skin reaction, the on-site PA is allowed to treat them instead of a dermatologist.

Let’s examine the educational requirements to become a Physician Assistant in California.

Educational Requirements for a Physician Assistant

First, a bachelor of science degree is required to apply for a physician assistant program. Most commonly, nurses will have their BSN so they’re ready to apply. However, having a bachelor’s in nursing is not a requirement for the PA program. Most universities offer pre-physician assistant degrees for undergraduate students to earn their bachelor of science.

Physician Assistant programs must be accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The duration is usually two years that focuses on classroom education and clinical rotations. Once the prerequisites are fulfilled, a master’s degree in PA studies will be awarded.

The final step in becoming a practicing Physician Assistant is passing the licensure exam. You must register with the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) to apply for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).

As of 2021, California requires Physician Assistant candidates to have these documents prepared when applying for licensure [3]:

  • Application for a PA License
  • Certification of Completion of Physician Assistant Training Program
  • PANCE scores
  • Fingerprinting and background check

What are the Job Responsibilities of a Physician Assistant?

Generally, a Physician Assistant visits patients who require physical exams, lab testing, psychological assessment, or surgical consultations. Specific job responsibilities depend on which department a PA is stationed in, which can include:

  • Pediatrics
  • Family Medicine
  • Geriatrics
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology
  • General Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Emergency medicine

PAs are required to continue education, which makes it possible for them to work in various areas. To paint a better picture of detailed responsibilities, here’s what to expect as a Surgical Physician Assistant.

  • Provide evaluation, diagnosis and treatment
  • Health promotion and disease prevention-based goals for self-care skills
  • Provide counseling and education
  • Offer collaborative practice-based setting
  • Provide risk assessment to families and community
  • Primary and acute care level of intervention
  • Obtains a relevant health and medical history during examination
  • Performs a physical examination based on age and history
  • Performs or orders diagnostic procedures based on the client’s needs
  • Identifies health and medical risk factors
  • Makes accurate diagnosis by utilizing critical thinking in the diagnostic process
  • Formulating a differential diagnosis based on the history, physical examination, and diagnostic test results
  • Establishing priorities to meet the health and medical needs of the client
  • Developing a patient education plan and providing patient teaching
  • Evaluates and follows up on patient status making modifications in the treatment plan as necessary based on reassessment
  • Provides intra-operative exposure and retraction
  • Manages all instruments in the operative field to prevent obstruction of the surgeon’s view
  • Sutures tissue, using instruments and suture material
  • Handles tissues and manipulates instruments to perform superficial dissection
  • Aspirating and sponging of blood and other fluids from the operative site
  • Placing suture ligatures in the muscle, subcutaneous and skin layers


Where are the available Physician Assistant jobs near me?

Eisenhower Medical Center welcomes both in-state and out-of-state health care workers. California is one of the leading states for the nursing industry, providing ample job opportunities for many nursing professions. Our world-class medical center offers a variety of nursing jobs in specialty areas to maintain the same level of passion and dedication throughout our nurses’ careers. If you’re interested in a Physician Assistant job in California, apply to our available job posting via this direct link:


[1] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Physician Assistants

[2] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021). Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics

[3] Physician Assistant EDU (n.d). California Physician Assistant Programs for Licensure

Originally posted on 27/10/2021

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