Physician's Aide: Job Description & Requirements

Learn about the work duties of a physician's aide. Discover what education and skills are required as well as employment outlook and salary to decide of this is the right career decision.

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Career Definition

Physician's aides are typically responsible for administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, communicating with insurance companies and updating patients' files in the offices of hospitals, physicians, chiropractors and optometrists. Some physician's aides also have clinical duties, including taking patients' vital signs, collecting samples and helping with examinations.

How to Become a Physician's Aide

Required Education

Physician's aides typically have completed 2-year programs in medical assisting either at vocational schools or community colleges. Certification of physician's aides is optional, but can greatly increase their employability, according to the American Association of Medical Assistants, www.aama-natl.org.

Skills Required

Physician's aides must be able to carefully follow directions to complete administrative and clinical tasks independently. Aiding physicians typically involves direct interaction with patients, requiring good interpersonal skills.

Career and Economic Outlook

Jobs for medical assistants are projected to grow 29% from 2012-2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Jobs in outpatient settings are expected to grow quickly as more services are provided outside of hospitals. The average wage for a medical assistant in 2012 was $30,550, according to the BLS.

Alternative Careers

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

For those wanting to provide more medical care than what a physician's aide is allowed to do, becoming a licensed practical nurse may be the right career choice. An LPN keeps a close eye on how a patient is doing, checks vitals, changes wound dressings, updates patient medical records and places catheters. Some states may also allow LPNs to begin IVs and administer drugs.

Every state requires LPNs to obtain licensure, and qualifications include earning a nursing diploma or certificate and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for practical nurses. The BLS projects strong employment growth during the 2012-2022 decade that will result in the creation of almost 183,000 new jobs for licensed practical and vocational nurses. These nurses earn an average of $42,400 per year, based on BLS data from May of 2012.

Physician Assistant

If working with a physician to determine what patient care is necessary sounds interesting, consider becoming a physician assistant. Although they work under the supervision of a physician, physician assistants are allowed to do many of the same duties as a medical doctor. They diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, prescribe medications, examine patients and arrange for diagnostic testing.

To work in the profession, a master's degree in physician assisting is required and most entering these programs already have experience and a bachelor's degree in a health-related field. Physician assistants must also be licensed in every state and passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination is one portion of the process. More healthcare providers will be needed in the future due to an aging population. Because of this, the BLS projects a 38% increase in job opportunities for physician assistants from 2012-2022. On average, these professionals received a salary of $92,460 in 2012, according to statistics from the BLS.

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