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How do I Choose the Best Physician Assistant School?

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  • Written By: Rachel Burkot
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2018
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A physician assistant is a medical professional who works with a physician to perform physical examinations, make diagnoses, develop treatment plans, administer lab tests, assist in surgical procedures and provide healthcare counseling. Many physician assistants have worked as registered nurses or at medical facilities of some kind, so they have basic knowledge in the healthcare industry. Physician assistant school typically takes two years to complete, and programs vary by location. A physician assistant program can be found in colleges that specialize in medicine, academic health and allied health. Community colleges, hospitals and the military also offer accredited physician assistant programs.

A physician assistant course in biology is usually the fundamental class taken by physician assistant students. From here, students branch out into chemistry, math, psychology, social science and English. Physician assistant school, unlike other types of medical school, places an emphasis on communication, as these skills are necessary for interacting with patients. Specific examples of courses offered at physician assistant school include Molecular Machinery of Life, Human Physiology and Anatomy, Statistics, Sociocultural Anthropology and Sociology. Depending on the program, requirements to become a physician assistant may also include foreign language studies or classes in the humanities.

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During physician assistant training, students will learn not only concepts but practical application theories. A large focus is placed on disease prevention and medical ethics, and a student at physician assistant school will learn proper sanitation procedures and get in the habit of enforcing these to curb the spreading of germs. Medical training is also an important part of physician assistant school. The student will undergo rotations at clinics, where he or she will gain experience with family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, geriatrics or pediatrics. The student will often work with a physician assistant who is looking to hire, and permanent employment may be secured by these rotations.

Choosing the best physician assistant school is a matter of comparing schools in several different areas. Of course, financial matters should be taken into consideration, as some schools offer generous scholarships while others offer little or nothing. The focus of each physician assistant school should also be carefully considered. Some schools specialize in pediatrics, while others train physician assistants to work with older people in nursing homes. To decide which school to attend, decide the types of physician assistant jobs that interest you most, and narrow down the list of schools to those that have solid programs in your chosen field.

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