How Do I Become a Pediatric Physician Assistant?

Discover what it takes to become a pediatric physician assistant. Read over information about the education needed, the job duties, the salary and growth outlook to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Profession at a Glance

A pediatric physician assistant (PA) is a medical professional who works with a team of doctors and has the background and often a specialty certification in pediatrics. The responsibilities can include assisting in surgery, developing and managing patient treatment, performing exams, and ordering laboratory tests. Check out the chart below to find out more about the statistics for pediatric PAs:

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Physician assistant
Job Duties Treat patients; examine for ailments; diagnose diseases and disorders
Certification/Licensure Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE) is required; Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) in Pediatrics (optional)
Median Annual Salary $104,860 (all physician assistants)*
Job Growth (2016-2026) 37% (all physician assistants)*

Source:*US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does the Pediatric Physician Assistant Job Entail?

Pediatric PAs work with infants, children, and adolescents. The basic duties of a PA can range from researching the latest treatment plans, taking and looking over patients' current and past medical history, setting broken bones, immunizing patients, and ordering and evaluating x-rays and blood tests, while often serving as the primary healthcare provider for a patient.

This specialization has an important impact because dealing with this age group means that you would be playing an important role in the period of time when children are going through the most physiological growth and development.

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

To become a pediatric PA, the first step is to obtain a bachelor's degree with science-based coursework from an accredited university, along with spending time volunteering or working in patient care centers; some even work as paramedics or registered nurses during this time.

The Accredited Review Commission of Education for Physician Assistant, INC (ARC-PA) should be considered a great resource for searching for an accredited program. The PA postgraduate program will be 2 years of full-time study in the classroom and laboratory. During this time, students attend clinical training in several areas of specialization, which would include pediatrics. In order to complete a PA master's program, students must pass the PANCE that is distributed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), which is required for all states and the District of Columbia. The pediatric specialization certification is also offered by the NCCPA.

How Much Will I Earn as a PA?

Recorded in May 2017, PAs in general were earning a median salary of $104,860 per year or $50.41 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Those who worked in employment services, outpatient care centers, and hospitals made somewhat more than the listed median. The majority of PAs worked full time in 2016, said the BLS, and 1 in 4 put in more than 40 hours per week, possibly working weekends, overnights, and holidays.

What is The Job Outlook for PAs?

According to the BLS, the employment for PAs is expected to grow by 37% between 2016-2026, which is considered to be above the average compared to others jobs in the United States. Healthcare services have and will continue to increase with a growing population. The need for PAs, which includes those working in pediatrics, may be especially great in underserved or rural areas of the country.

What are Some Alternative Careers?

Physical therapists and surgeons/physicians are similar careers that also work hands-on with patients and have the ability to examine, diagnose, and treat patients. However, these occupations would require a doctorate or professional degree instead of just a master's.

Becoming an occupational therapist also gives the chance to focus on treating injured, disabled, and ill patients. Similarly, studying to become a nurse anesthetist, midwife, or a nurse practitioner could also be other great options, as they coordinate care and have the ability to provide primary and specialty care in the medical field. These professions require only a master's degree.

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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