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.