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What is a Physician Assistant?

PAprofessionalPhysician assistants are health care professionals licensed, or in the case of those employed by the federal government they are credentialed, to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA's practice may also include education, research, and administrative services.

To become a PA in the United States, one must graduate from a PA program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) then pass the NCCPA - PA national Certification Examination (PANCE), then apply for state licensure from the appropriate State Medical Board. PAs that pass the national certification exam and maintain it have the -C designation or PA-C title.

The Emory PA program is 28 months of combined academic and clinical coursework granting a Masters of Medical Science Degree in Physician Assistant (MMSc-PA). There is a MPH dual degree option adding an additional 12 months (MMSc-PA/MPH) The Emory PA Program provides a strong foundation in primary care with a focus on underserved populations. If you are interested in becoming an Emory PA, visit our prospective student page.


Read about how PA-MD Teams are an answer to increased patient care needs

Forbes ranks the PA - Masters degree as #3 on the Best Masters degree list

Top job in the USA

History of the PA profession - PA History Center at

Article on the origins of the PA Profession

Read about life as a PA in the online Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) Do a search for "A day in the Life" for the article series.

Bureau of Labor job outlook for PA  positions expected to grow much faster than average.

What is a PA - Videos from the AAPA

Video interview with Emory PA Program founder Dr J Willis Hurst

American Academy of Physician Assistants at

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)

Physician Assistant Education Association:

Federation of State Medical Boards:

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) 

HRSA Projections in PA Workforce Growth

What is an AA Anesthesia Assistant (PA in Anesthesia)

Georgia PAs and who to Shadow - GAPA website

AAPA President John McGinnity Talks about PA roles

NCCPA Report on PA Practice for 2013

PA-NP Differences