Physician Assistants


Employment Prospects


Approximately 120,090 physician assistants are employed in the United States. PAs work in a variety of health care settings. PAs are employed by single physicians or group practices; others work at hospitals or for some type of government agency, with the Department of Veterans' Affairs being the largest government employer of PAs. They are also employed by clinics, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and prisons. Many health care providers in areas lacking quality medical care personnel, such as remote rural areas and the inner city, are hiring PAs to meet their needs.

Starting Out

PAs must complete their formal training programs before entering the job market. Once they complete their studies, PA students can utilize the placement services of their schools to locate jobs. PAs may also seek employment at hospitals, clinics, medical offices, or other health care settings. Information about jobs with the federal government can be obtained by contacting the Office of Personnel Management's Web site,

Advancement Prospects

PAs with experience can assume more responsibility at higher pay, or they move on to employment at larger hospitals and clinics. Some PAs go back to school for additional education to practice in a specialty area, such as surgery, urology, or ophthalmology.

Tips for Entry

Visit the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant's Web site at to find out more about accredited PA programs.

Visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants at to learn more about the PA profession.

Visit the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants at to learn more about the certification requirements for being a PA.

Study for the GRE or MCAT (depending on applicant requirements) before you take the exam. You might even want to take a course to prepare. Your scores will be an important factor in being admitting to a PA program. For more information on the GRE, go to For more information on the MCAT, visit