Physician Assistants (PAs) are valuable members of a multidisciplinary healthcare team. The profession was established in 1965 to help physicians provide healthcare services to underserved and rural populations. While the profession remains committed to its historical mission, PAs are now employed in almost all medical and surgical specialties.

PAs are healthcare professionals licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. The physician assistant, functioning under the direction of the physician, will be expected to perform appropriately delegated tasks autonomously with the full confidence of the physician. Physician assistants will always have the benefit of the physician's guidance and counsel. Individual state practice laws and hospital bylaws define the scope of practice and prescribing authority of physician assistants. Most states authorize PAs to prescribe non-controlled substances and perform any task delegated by a supervising physician.

To be eligible for licensure, PAs must graduate from an accredited physician assistant program and pass the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE). To maintain licensure, PAs must complete 100 hours of continuing medical education credits every two years and pass the Physician Assistant National Recertification Examination (PANRE) every six years. PAs may obtain additional training through postgraduate residency programs in subspecialty areas, but these programs are not required for licensure or practice in subspecialty areas.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked the UAB Surgical Physician Assistant Program among the top Physician Assistant programs in its annual "Best Graduate Schools" edition. Physician Assistants are also ranked in the top 10 best health careers by U.S. News and World Report.

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