What is a PA-C?
A physician assistant-certified (PA-C) is a graduate of an accredited physician assistant educational program who has undergone testing by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. PA-Cs are state-licensed to practice medicine with a supervising physician. At Swedish, all physician assistants are certified PA-Cs.
What can PA-Cs do?
PA-Cs may do the following:
- Physical examinations
- Diagnose and treat illnesses
- Prescribe medication
- Order and interpret lab tests
- Perform procedures
- Assist in surgery
- Provide patient education and counseling
- Make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes
How are PA-Cs educated and trained?
The PA-C educational program is modeled after medical school curriculum and completed over the course of about 27 months. Training includes a combination of classroom and clinical instruction.
Students who want to become PA-Cs must have completed at least two years of college courses in basic science and behavioral science. This is similar to pre-med studies required of medical students.
PA-Cs complete more than 2,000 hours of clinical training in services such as family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine and psychiatry. When PA-Cs graduate from their program, they must take national certification tests, commonly called boards.
PA-Cs at Swedish
Swedish employs PA-Cs in a wide range of clinical areas, including cardiology, hospital medicine, neurosciences, obstetrics and gynecology, primary care, urgent care and other surgical specialties. Every PA-C has a supervising physician.