Physician Assistants (PA)

The demand for physician assistants in Western Massachusetts is growing due to health care reform and changing models of healthcare. An increased focus on primary care to reduce healthcare costs and improve care quality means that more mid-level patient care providers, like physician assistants, are needed to provide care in a variety of settings. 

Physician assistants provide a variety of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive, and other healthcare services under the supervision of a physician or surgeon.  They often conduct complete physicals, provide treatments and counsel patients. PAs can also prescribe medications. Some physician assistants specialize in surgery or emergency medicine.  

Physician assistants:

  • Care for patients directly by examining, instructing, treating and counseling them, especially in primary, preventative care situations
  • Evaluate patients and create care plans by taking medical histories, ordering and interpreting tests, and conferring with others in the care team, including physicians and nurses
  • Increase health care quality by helping patients manage chronic conditions so that they are less likely to need expensive or lengthy acute care at a hospital

 Employment opportunities can be found in:

Education and training requirements

Physician’s assistants most often hold a master’s degree. All physician assistants are required to pass a national certification examination. 

Physician assistants are also expected to have:

  • Strong communication skills to work with care team and the patient to gather the information required to make accurate diagnoses
  • A comfort level with technology, including electronic medical records systems

Western MA Fast Facts

  • Workers in Pioneer Valley: 430
  • Education Requirements: Masters degree
  • Entry Level Wage: $34/hour
  • Experienced Wage: $53/hour
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