A physician assistant (US) or physician associate (UK) is a healthcare professional who practices medicine as a part of a healthcare team with collaborating physicians and other providers. In the United States, PAs are nationally certified and state licensed to practice medicine. The certified PA has C at the end of his/her credentials. The letter 'C' signifies a certified PA. PAs are trained using the medical model and complete these qualifications in less time than a traditional medical degree. The master's degree is about seven years degree and doctrate/PhD is about 8-10 years. The PA education model is based on the fast-track training of doctors during World War II, which allows PAs to complete training in less time.
PAs are concerned with preventing and treating human illness and injury by providing a broad range of health care services with a collaborating physician. Their scope of practice can vary according to jurisdiction and healthcare setting, some will require a license. Accordingly, their work may include conducting physical exams, ordering and interpreting tests, diagnosing illnesses, developing treatment plans, performing procedures, prescribing medications, advising on preventive health care, and assisting in surgery.
The occupational title originated in the United States in the 1960s; similar occupations outside the US include clinical officers in part of Africa and feldshers in countries of the former Soviet Union.