What is a PA?

Per the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), a PA is a nationally certified and state-licensed medical professional. PAs practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. PAs practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories and the uniformed services.

PAs may:

  • Record a patient’s medical history
  • Conduct physical exams
  • Diagnose and treat illnesses
  • Order and interpret tests
  • Develop treatment plans
  • Counsel on preventive care
  • Assist in surgery
  • Write prescriptions
  • Make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes

PAs’ specific duties depend on:

  • Settings in which they work
  • Their level of experience
  • Their specialty
  • State laws

A.T. Still University’s Central Coast Physician Assistant (CCPA) Program is an entry level, 24-month course of study that leads to a master of science degree upon successful completion. The first 12 months of the program consist of courses that develop a strong academic foundation for clinical practice. Faculty and staff work closely with students, helping them develop professional attributes and clinical problem-solving skills necessary for efficient and optimal patient care.

During the clinical component of the program, students attend clinical rotations in several disciplines of medicine. Students are supervised by clinical preceptors and continue to advance their clinical knowledge by working directly with patients and various health care professionals.

After graduation, students take the national certification exam.