The Physician Assistant Profession

What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?

The PA Profession evolved during the 1960’s in response to the national shortage of primary care providers.

Sometimes referred to as Mid-level Providers or Advanced Practice Providers, PAs are highly trained, skilled medical health professionals who work as part of a team with physicians. PAs are graduates of accredited PA educational programs and are nationally certified and state-licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of a physician.

What Can PAs Do?

PAs perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, perform clinical procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes. All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow PAs to practice and prescribe medications.

Because PAs are trained and educated in a medical model similar to physicians; they share similar diagnostic and therapeutic reasoning skills. This relationship within the physician-PA practice is often described as delegated autonomy; where Physicians delegate medical duties to PAs. Within this range of duties, PAs use autonomous decision-making for their patient care. This team model is an efficient way to provide high-quality medical care. In rural areas, PAs may be the only healthcare providers on-site, collaborating with physicians elsewhere through telecommunication.

For more information, please visit:

American Academy of Physician Assistants
Physician Assistant History Society

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Contact Us

Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Program

66 North Pauline, Ste. 116
Memphis TN 38163
Phone: 901-448-8000