The Orthopedic Physician Assistant

An orthopedic physician assistant is one who practices orthopedic medicine while being supervised by an orthopedic surgeon, and is one of the multiple different physician assistant specialties. The profession enables one to do about 80 percent of the job duties that the orthopedic physician does, but without having to get education higher than a masters degree. The PA profession itself offers a current annual salary average of $89,898, but being that the orthopedic PA is a highly sought out specialty, the salary can be a lot higher than the median. The job most always comes with other benefits which can include; health insurance, 401k, retirement bonuses, profit sharing, dental and vision insurance among others. Not to mention that the profession is expected to experience and increase in employment of 39 percent between 2008 and 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so there is no greater time to become a PA than right now.

How To Become an Orthopedic Physician Assistant

If your goal is to find work as an orthopedic PA, there are a few requirements that you must meet, which include:

  • Completion of an accredited physician assistant programs, that which is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission of Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). These classes run anywhere from 2 to 3 years, and acceptance requirements for each program are different, but usually consist of things like; bachelor’s degree, certain prerequisite courses completed with a grade of C – B, submission of official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, background checks, immunizations, clinical work experience, letters of reference among others. These classes will consist of both classroom training as well as training in a clinical setting where you will learn multiple different PA specialties.
  • Take and pass the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE). The test consists of 600 questions and lasts for six hours.
  • Apply for licensure through the state that you live in.
  • You can also obtain certification through the National Board for Certification of Orthopedic Physician Assistants, which is for the sole purpose of the promotion of excellence in the Orthopedic PA practice.

Orthopedic Physician Assistant Job Description

As far as the job duties go for a practicing orthopedic physician, here is an overview of what they do on a daily basis:

  • Provide suturing to patient wounds, the removal of staples, management of wounds, incisions, fracture treatment repairing tendons, needle biopsies, joint injections, as well as splint and cast patient injuries.
  • Order as well as perform different tests for patients which can include but are not limited to; x rays, electrocardiograms, MRI’s and EMG’s.
  • Administer anesthetics.
  • Assisting physicians during times of procedures and surgeries.
  • Ordering as well as prescribing along with administering medication to patients along with orthopedic devices. (Although, some states still have laws and regulations that refrain from allowing PA’s to prescribe medication)
  • Advise patients on techniques a well as outside resources that they should be doing to in order to recover.
  • Create treatment plans for patients that are in the hospital.

Staying Certified As An Orthopedic PA

In order to stay certified as an as a physician assistant in the orthopedic specialty, you must
  • Complete at least 120 hours of continuing medical education (CME) each 2 years that you are working.
  • Pass the Physician Assistant National Recertification Exam (PANRE) exam every 6 years.