About Us

UT Dallas' Pre-Physician Assistant Society is for students interested in pursuing a career in the medical field as a physician assistant. Through our society, students will have the opportunities to gain knowledge and experience in the medical field, through community service and by shadowing PAs. This organization informs students of the history and the purpose of the profession ad provides information about the process of applying for PA school.



About the Physician Assistant Profession:

Q: What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?

A: Physician Assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs employed by the federal government are credentialed to practice. 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 in virtually all states can write prescriptions. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA's practice may also include education, research, and administrative services. PAs are trained in intensive education programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Because of the close working relationship the PAs have with physicians, PAs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. Upon graduation, physician assistants take a national certification examination developed by the National Commission on Certification of PAs in conjunction with the National Board of Medical Examiners. To maintain their national certification, PAs must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and sit for a recertification every six years. Graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licensure.

Q: How did the Physician Assistant profession begin?

A: In the mid-1960s, physicians and educators recognized there was a shortage and uneven distribution of primary care physicians. To expand the delivery of quality medical care, Dr. Eugene Stead of the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina put together the first class of PAs in 1965. He selected Navy corpsmen who received considerable medical training during their military service and during the war in Vietnam but who had no comparable civilian employment. He based the curriculum of the PA program in part on his knowledge of the fast-track training of doctors during World War II.

Q: Where do PAs "draw the line" as far as what they can treat and what a Physician can treat?

A: What a physician assistant does varies with training, experience, and state law. In addition, the scope of the PA's practice corresponds to the supervising physician's practice. In general, a physician assistant will see many of the same types of patients as the physician. The cases handled by physicians are generally the more complicated medical cases or those cases which require care that is not a routine part of the PA's scope of work. Referral to the physician, or close consultation between the patient-PA-physician, is done for unusual or hard to manage cases. Physician assistants are taught to "know our limits" and refer to physicians appropriately. It is an important part of PA training.

Q: Can PAs prescribe medications?

A: All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have enacted laws that authorize PA prescribing.

Q: What's the difference between a PA and a Physician?

A: Physician assistants are educated in the "medical model"; in some schools they attend many of the same classes as medical students. One of the main differences between PA education and physician education is not the core content of the curriculum, but the amount of time spent in formal education. In addition to time in school, physicians are required to do an internship, and the majority also complete a residency in a specialty following that. PAs do not have to undertake an internship or residency. A physician has complete responsibility for the care of the patient. PAs share that responsibility with the supervising physicians.

Source: http://www.washington.edu/medicine/som/depts/medex/whoweare/whatisapa.htm



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Fall 2018 Meeting DATES:

1rd General Meeting: November 7, 2017 @ 7:00pm in SSA