Powerful Geography
Physician Assistant

Physician Assistant

Physician Assistant


Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society

Overview: Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients. Physician assistants work on teams with physicians or surgeons and other healthcare workers. Their specific duties and the extent to which they must be supervised by physicians or surgeons differ from state to state. Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, including primary care and family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, and psychiatry. The work of physician assistants depends in large part on their specialty or the type of medical practice where they work. For example, a physician assistant working in surgery may close incisions and provide care before, during, and after the operation. A physician assistant working in pediatrics may examine a child and give routine vaccinations.  In some areas, especially rural and medically underserved communities, physician assistants may be the primary care providers at clinics where a physician is present only 1 or 2 days per week. In these locations, physician assistants collaborate with the physician as needed and as required by law. Some physician assistants make house calls or visit nursing homes to treat patients.  Physician assistants are different from medical assistants. Medical assistants do routine clinical and clerical tasks and do not practice medicine.

Geographic skills and knowledge are important for the medical field, as the prevalence of many diseases, the spread of certain diseases, and health care issues are related to location.  For example, some areas may have a high cancer rate, perhaps because of industrial pollution.  Understanding that link between health issues and place is important in the health care profession for disease prevention, treatment, and advising patients.

Geographers at work:  Health geographers, medical geographers, human geographers, cultural geographers

Recommended College Courses:  Human geography, physical geography, cultural geography, environmental geography, political geography; geographic information systems

Skills:  Web-based mapping applications; map reading and interpretation; geographic information systems; computer and database systems; geographic thinking; problem-based learning models

Occupation Group: Healthcare

Learn more about Physician Assistant from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor:  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physician-assistants.htm#tab-1

Written by Christopher Anderson