Scope of Practice

The physician assistant is academically and clinically prepared to provide health care services with the direction and responsible supervision of a doctor of medicine or osteopathy. Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants make clinical decisions and provide a broad range of diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and health maintenance services.

Physician Assistant Tasks

The clinical role of PAs includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical settings. PA practice is centered on patient care and may include educational, research and administrative activities.

The specific tasks performed by individual PAs cannot be delineated precisely because of the variation in practice requirements mandated by geographic, political economic and social factors. At a minimum, however, PAs are educated in areas of basic medical science, clinical disciplines and discipline-specific problem solving.

Physician Assistant Practice

PA practice is characterized by clinical knowledge and skills in areas traditionally defined as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, surgery, and psychiatry/behavioral medicine. Physician assistants practice in ambulatory, emergency, inpatient, and long-term care settings.

Physician assistants deliver health care services to diverse patient populations of all ages with a range of acute and chronic medical and surgical conditions. They need knowledge and skills which allow them to function effectively in a dynamic health care environment. Services performed by physician assistants while practicing with physician supervision include but are not limited to evaluation, monitoring, therapeutic, patient education and referral.

Service Description
Evaluation PAs elicit a detailed and accurate history; perform an appropriate physical examination; order, perform and interpret appropriate diagnostic studies, delineate problems; develop management plans and record and present data.
Monitoring PAs implement patient management plans, record progress notes, and participate in the provision of continuity of care.
Therapeutic Perform therapeutic procedures and manage or assist in the management of medical and surgical conditions, which may include assisting surgeons in the conduct of operations and taking initiative in performing evaluation and therapeutic procedures in response to life-threatening situations.
Patient Education PAs counsel patients regarding issues of health care management to include compliance with prescribed therapeutic regimens, normal growth and development, family planning, and emotional problems of daily living.
Referral PAs facilitate the referral of patients to other health care providers or agencies as appropriate.

*NOTE: Maryland statute specifically prohibits Physician Assistant students from the delegated responsibility for medical order writing. The Scope of Physician Assistant Practice as stated above is taken from the Description of the Physician Assistant Profession in the ARC-PA Standards and Guidelines and applies to graduate PAs.