How Can I Become a Pediatrician's Assistant?

Research what it takes to become a pediatrician's assistant. Learn about the education, training and certification required, along with job outlook and salary information, to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Pediatrician Assistant?

A pediatrician's assistant is a physician assistant who specializes in the care of infants, children and adolescents. In order to help pediatricians diagnose their patients, they often perform examinations, order tests and interpret results. From there, they assist in the development of a treatment strategy, and they may conduct clinical procedures and/or prescribe medication to help a patient recover. Additionally, pediatrician's assistants often administer routine vaccinations for children.

The following table presents an overview for this career:

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Physician's assistant
Key Skills Observation, communication, motor, critical thinking and interpersonal skills
Certification National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) certification
Job Growth (2014-24)* 30% (physician assistants)
Median Salary (2015)* $98,180 (physician assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Pediatrician's Assistant Do?

As a pediatrician's assistant, you would perform diagnostic and therapeutic services, take medical histories, examine patients, administer medicine and order lab tests under the supervision of a credentialed doctor. You also might treat minor injuries through suturing, casting and splinting. A pediatrician's assistant must be able to assess a child's mental and physical growth, maintain accurate medical records and perceive how a child reacts to care. Interacting with worried and stressed parents is an important part of this job; you must be comfortable advising them on their child's health, diet, hygiene and disease prevention.

What Do I Need to Study?

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) states that you can graduate from any accredited physician assistant program to sit for mandatory certification as a PA (www.nccpa.net). According to the Accreditation Review Commission on Education of the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), there were 218 accredited programs available in the U.S. as of February 2017 (www.arc-pa.org).

To successfully complete a physician assistant training program, you'll likely need strong observation, communication, motor, critical thinking and interpersonal skills. Courses might include biochemistry, medicine, pathology, human anatomy, physiology, medical ethics and psychology.

How Can I Become Certified?

The NCCPA issues the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), which is required to practice as a physician assistant. PANCE is a 5-hour, multiple-choice exam consisting of 300 questions. Prospective test-takers may send in eligibility information to ensure they've completed an appropriate, ARC-PA-approved training program prior to scheduling an exam appointment.

How Do I Specialize in Pediatrics?

The most common way that physician assistants receive specialized practice working with children is through rotations. In a graduate degree program for physician assistants, rotations are built into the curriculum in the second or third year. A pediatrics rotation is standard. A specialized focus on child health is rare but may be available. You also can join the Society for Physician Assistants in Pediatrics, which is a voluntary membership organization for pediatrician assistants associated with the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Rather than focusing on pediatrics, physician assistants may pursue careers as generalists or choose to specialize in a different area of medicine, such as surgery or oncology. Individuals who are particularly interested in children's health may choose to become pediatricians themselves, although this requires a medical degree and the completion of a pediatrics residency. Another high-level option for those who wish to specialize in pediatric care is a job as a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP). Like physician assistants, these professionals must have a master's degree and a license to practice.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Strayer University

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  • Purdue University Global

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  • Keiser University

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  • Capella University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • Fortis College

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    • Maryland: Towson
  • College of Health Care Professions

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    • Texas: Austin, Houston, San Antonio
  • Independence University

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