Physician's Assistant (Neonatology): Education and Career Profile

Explore the career requirements for neonatal physician's assistants. Get the facts about job duties, employment outlook, education requirements and licensing to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Neonatal Physician Assistant?

Physician assistants may be involved in compiling a patient's medical history, examining the patient, ordering tests to diagnose a patient, and diagnosing an illness or injury. Neonatal physician assistants specifically work with newborn infants. They may work in a doctor's office, or work in a neonatal unit in a hospital, treating infants who are premature, conjoined, or have serious health issues.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Physician assistant; postgraduate program in neonatology
Key Responsibilities Conduct patient exams; diagnosis & treatment; assist doctors with procedures
Licensure Required All states require licensing
Job Growth (2014-2024 ) 30% for all physician assistants*
Average Salary (2015) $99,270 for all physician assistants*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Perform as a Physician Assistant in Neonatology?

As a physician assistant in neonatology, you'll care for infants under the direction of a physician. Your job duties will include assessing patients, performing physical exams, ordering diagnostic tests, making diagnoses, prescribing treatments and following up with patients.

You must interact with a variety of people, including other health professionals and patients' families. Additional duties may include teaching, participating in research, assisting physicians with complicated procedures, maintaining patient records and providing referrals.

Is the Career Outlook Expected to Be Favorable?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of physician assistants was expected to grow 30% between 2014 and 2024. This is in part due to the growth of the healthcare industry and because physician assistants can provide routine healthcare at a lower cost than if treated directly by a physician. You can expect to find the most employment opportunities in rural and inner-city areas. The BLS notes that in May 2015, physician assistants earned an average yearly salary of $99,270, with the highest concentration of workers employed in physician offices for an average salary of $98,630.

What Education Prerequisites Will I Need to Complete?

Most physician assistant programs lead to a master's degree. Most who gain admission to physician assistant programs already have a degree and healthcare experience, according to the BLS. You may want to consider working as an emergency medical technician, a paramedic, registered nurse or in related job title prior to applying to physician assistant programs.

Physician assistant programs typically include courses in anatomy and physiology, chemistry, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology. You'll also receive clinical training in patient evaluation and in areas of medicine such as emergency medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, radiology and surgery.

You may be required to participate in internships or clerkships. Research may also be included in the curriculum, especially in bachelor's and master's degree programs.

Will I Need to Fulfill Any Other Requirements?

As a physician assistant in the United States, you must become credentialed. After graduating from an approved program, you'll need to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, which is given by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). To maintain your certification, you must participate in continuing education and periodically pass a recertification exam.

To specialize in neonatology, you'll need to complete a postgraduate internship or residency program specializing in the care of healthy, ill and premature infants. Your coursework may include lectures, clinical conferences, clinical rotations and research opportunities. Some of these rotations may include radiology, surgery, physical therapy, cardiology, intensive care and nutrition.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Physician assistants also work in other areas of specialization, such as geriatrics or pediatrics. Another similar occupation is nursing. Nurses are directly involved in the care of patients, and may also assist with performing tests, administering medications and updating the patient's medical information. Occupational therapists (OTs) also perform tasks similar to those of a physician assistant; OTs help patients regain living/working skills after an illness or injury.

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