PA options: Working in obstetrics and gynecology

December 12, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Gap Medics students with a patient on the maternity ward in Chiang Mai Physician assistants play a vital role in healthcare. PA’s are becoming more common in many types of medical settings from outpatient clinics to hospital emergency rooms. Physician assistants work in a variety of specialties including obstetrics and gynecology.


Responsibilities of an obstetrics and gynecology PA

PA’s who work in obstetrics and gynecology perform many of the same duties as gynecologists. For example, they may perform pelvic and breast exams, provide menopausal management and treat routine gynecological problems.

Physician assistants also order diagnostic tests, such as mammograms and lab work, in order to make a diagnosis. They provide treatment recommendations and educate patients on OB-GYN topics and conditions. Some physician assistants may also be involved in routine prenatal care, family planning and treating fertility issues.


Training to become an OB-GYN physician assistant

Most PA programs require applicants to have at least an associate degree. Some schools require a bachelor’s degree. Although it may vary, experience in the medical field, such as working as a phlebotomist or home health aide, is also needed to get into PA school.

Once accepted into a program, students will take science classes, such as anatomy, biology, pharmacology and behavior sciences.  They also complete a series of clinical rotations in hospitals and clinics. Most PA programs require students to complete about 2000 hours of clinical experience in areas, such as general surgery, pediatrics and emergency medicine. Additional rotations in internal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology are also usually required.

Although the length of a PA program can vary, most can be completed in between 24 and 26 months. Once students graduate from an accredited PA program, they must pass a state licensing exam. All states in the US require physician assistants to be licensed.

Once licensed, physician assistants can enter the OB-GYN field two different ways. Some PA’s choose to go directly from school to working, and try to find employment with an OB-GYN. Once hired, a PA will still need additional training, which they can get on the job.

Another option is to complete a PA residency in obstetrics and gynecology. PA residency programs may be competitive, but they can be a great way to focus on a specialty and gain the additional training and knowledge to work in certain areas of medicine including obstetrics and gynecology. 


Working conditions

Most physician assistants who work in obstetrics and gynecology are employed by a doctor’s office. About 52 percent of PA’s who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology work in either a solo or group practice. Obstetrics and gynecology PA’s may also find employment opportunities in university hospitals and health centers. A small percentage may also work for mobile clinics or insurance companies.

PA’s may need to work long hours at times, and some may be required to be on call to assist patients who have urgent health concerns. Physician assistants may see patients in the office and also in the hospital as needed. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a PA in 2012 was about $90,000 a year.



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