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
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.
||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.
||PAs implement patient management plans, record progress notes, and participate in
the provision of continuity of care.
||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.
||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.
||PAs facilitate the referral of patients to other health care providers or agencies
*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.