Job Description for an Orthopedic Physician Assistant

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Orthopedic physician assistants focus on orthopedic medicine and work under the supervision of orthopedic surgeons, according to Education-Portal. Orthopedic medicine involves the diagnosis and treatment of problems in the musculoskeletal system, according to OrthopedicMedicineAdvisor. Physician assistants in this specialty care for patients before, during and after procedures.

Duties

  • Orthopedic physician assistants take patients' medical histories and develop a preliminary patient care plan. These physician assistants order and review diagnostic tests such as lab or X-ray tests and might adjust a patient's care plan accordingly. Orthopedic physician assistants also apply local anesthetics, perform suturing, remove staples and treat fractures. These professionals place and remove splints and casts, record patient progress and share patients' conditions with physicians as well. They additionally can instruct patients about various issues and order medical supplies. Following surgeries, they make sure no complications have occurred, according to the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants.

Skills

  • Orthopedic physician assistants must have strong written and verbal communication skills. These health care professionals also must have strong interpersonal communication skills for working with orthopedic patients and surgeons. Orthopedic physician assistants must be detail oriented, organized and have an in-depth knowledge of medical procedures and equipment in this specialty. They also must know how to maintain safety in the workplace, handle emergency situations efficiently and follow rules. They should be professional and have basic computer skills as well. They additionally must be willing to do a lot of walking or stand for long periods of time during surgery, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Education

  • Orthopedic physician assistants must complete an accredited physician assistant training program, which takes about two to four years to complete. The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant accredits physician assistant education programs. To get into these programs, students usually must have completed at least two years of college. Classes in these training programs cover topics such as medical ethics, anatomy, physiology, pathology, clinical medicine, physical diagnosis, pharmacology and biochemistry. Students additionally complete clinical experiences in various specialties including orthopedics.

License

  • Orthopedic physician assistants must pass the Physician's Assistant National Certifying Examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Only physician assistants who have passed the test can use the title Physician Assistant-Certified. They then must complete at least 100 continuing education hours every two years and pass a recertification examination every six years to stay current on the new technologies and advancements in this field.

Outlook

  • Employment of physician assistants, which include orthopedic physician assistants, is projected to increase by 39 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This can be attributed to the demand for containing costs in a rapidly expanding health care industry. The average salary of physician assistants in 2010 was $88,000, according to Indeed.

References

  • Photo Credit surgeon set image by Andrey Rakhmatullin from Fotolia.com
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