While certified physician assistants (PA-C) are not the same as American Medical Association board-certified medical doctors, they are competent medical professionals. Physician assistants often go into medicine later in life, having already worked in other occupations.
Certified physician assistants go through a rigorous graduate-level training program that takes more than two years to complete. The degree program must be accredited by both the Committee on Allied Health, Education and Accreditation, and the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. After successful completion of the academic portions, the graduates must pass the national Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. The final stages include formal application with the Florida Board of Medicine and completion of 2,000 hours (about one year) of supervised clinical practice.
Physician assistants are important within medical practices because they relieve the physicians of much of the routine workload. They take medical histories and, because of their medical training and experience, they are able to notice when a patient has a special issue the primary physician should be aware of. They can understand medical histories written by other medical professionals and understand their patients’ backgrounds. For example, some fad diets can seriously affect a person’s digestive system, kidneys, urinary tract and bladder. An experienced PA knows when to ask patients if they have been on such diets.
With a solid understanding of pharmaceutical medicine, physician assistants can prescribe medications or recommend that the physician prescribe certain types of medications. PAs also approve prescription refills according to the physician’s practice and standard medical guidelines. If a patient has questions about how and when to take medications, PAs can give that information.
Quynh-Dao Tonnu, PA-C started her post-secondary education at the University of Florida, where she received her BA in Economics in 2005. Later in 2007, she completed a master’s degree at the University of South Florida in Library and Information Science. After that, she worked in hedge fund accounting, which she found interesting but not very personally fulfilling. In 2014, she changed occupations to become a medical assistant. She realized her most fulfilling job experiences involved working with people, so she went back to school and obtained her Physician Assistant degree in 2017. She has been working in urology for three years and is now fully certified. You can meet this talented PA at the Advanced Urology Institute Oxford office. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.