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January 29, 2021/Living Healthy/Primary Care

What Are Physician Assistants and How Do They Help You?

The Short Answer from one of our experts

Physician assistant on virtual appointment

Q: What are physician assistants and how do they help you?

A: Physician assistants (PAs) team up with your doctor and other healthcare providers to care for you. They earn a master’s degree after completing an intense medical curriculum from an accredited physician assistant program (often housed in a medical school).

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Physician assistants graduate as medical generalists. They may practice in a primary care setting or a specialty setting, teaming up with a physician or a surgeon. They can assess, diagnose, treat, prescribe medication, and educate you about health conditions and about wellness.

As our population ages, physicians will rely more and more on physician assistants and other advanced care practitioners, such as nurse practitioners, to improve access to quality medical care.

— Cleveland Clinic Education Institute Executive Dean James Young, MD

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