Physician Assistant, Certified (PA-C)

What is a physician assistant, certified (PA-C)?

A physician assistant, certified (PA-C) is a healthcare professional trained to diagnose and treat illness as well as provide preventive care under physician supervision. PA-Cs are certified by the National Commission of Certifications of PAs (NCCPA) after thousands of hours of training.

What’s the difference between a PA-C and an MD? 

The main difference between a PA-C and a medical doctor (MD) is that PAs must practice under the supervision of a physician, while physicians can practice independently.

Another significant difference between the two professionals is the amount of training required of each. PAs finish their training in around two years, while physicians finish medical school in around four years. After these four years, physicians must go through internships and residencies, which PAs do not have to complete.

Compared to physicians, PAs tend to have lighter workloads, letting them devote more time to each patient case.

Like MDs, PA-Cs can write, fill, and re-fill prescription medications.

Why are PA-Cs important in healthcare?

PA-Cs often have many primary care patients they will care for over many years — some of whom will never even meet a supervising physician. PA-Cs obtain patient histories, perform physical examinations, diagnose illnesses, develop treatment strategies, order and interpret lab tests, counsel patients, and more.

PA-Cs help to reduce routine workloads for doctors and provide quality healthcare services for patients.