Gastroenterology physician assistants are usually skilled PAs who not only specialize in gastroenterology, but also in hepatology. These health care professionals play different roles, depending on their work environment: these professionals can be found in outpatient clinics and offices, in inpatient hospital settings, government institutions, HMOs and such. In order to become a GPA or a physician assistant in gastroenterology and hepatology, these professionals must study in a traditional medical school, they must receive an intensive training in basic medical sciences as well as in clinical subjects, alongside practical training that will help them develop their medical skills and knowledge.
Duties And Requirements Of PAs In Gastroenterology
A gastroenterology PA performs a plethora of different medical tasks, ranging all the way from flexible sigmoidoscopies and paracentesis to rectal manometry studies, liver biopsies and assisting with the placement of the PEG tube. Gastroenterology PAs, or GPAs who choose to work in a public hospital should expect regular rounds in the hospital. In addition to this, these health care professionals should also expect to work with patients who suffer from celiac disease, gallbladder disease, chronic pancreatic disease, esophageal cancer, esophageal dysmotility or GERD, on a daily basis. This is part of the scope of practice of every PA who work in hepatology and gastroenterology. Moreover, GPAs also need top treat patients who suffer from various pancreatic diseases like Hepatitis B or C, hemachromatosis, autoimmune liver disease, cirrhosis, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, Crohn’s disease and many others.
How To Pursue a Lucrative Career As A Gastroenterology Physician Assistant?
Physician assistants who plan to operate in the gastroenterology field must look for a PA program that is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission, on the Education of PAs. The average length of an ARC-PA approved physician assistant training program is of 26 months, although this can depend on the institution that offers the training program. Throughout these 26 months of training, students will get thorough training and will enjoy a rather diversified curriculum that encompasses both clinical and didactic components.
The training can take place in the classroom, as well as in medical schools, teaching hospitals and other universities and colleges. The first training year of every physician assistant starts with classroom, theoretical teaching, while the second year emphasizes on the importance of practical, hands-on experience in gastroenterology and hepatology. Students will gain their practical experience through a series of clinical rotations, as well as clerkships that are performed on an outpatient and inpatient basis. In addition to this, it is important for all students to gather a minimum of 2000 hours of supervised clinical practice before they graduate from the ARC-PA physician assistant training program – only after that they can pursue their national certification followed by the state license and then by the graduate program which allows them to specialize in gastroenterology and hepatology.
The certification is undoubtedly the most important aspect in the professional life of every GPA who works in the United States of America, regardless of whether these professionals work in the public or the private sector. After pursuing their initial certification by passing the well-known PANCE examination and gathering all the necessary hands-on experience, it is important for physician assistants who want to specialize in gastroenterology and hepatology to pursue further certification. The certification exam that grants them the designation of certified gastroenterology PAs is a thorough, multiple choice question-based examination, and in order to be eligible for it all the applicants must meet a series of requirements.
Having said that, in addition to having a clean criminal background and a negative drug test, these health care professionals must also have a couple of letters of recommendation provided by the licensed gastroenterologist or hepatologist under whose supervision they have completed their practical training. After meeting all these eligibility requirements, the physician assistants can take their specialty certification examination, and then they must renew it on a regular basis by making sure that they meet the number of continuing medical education hours. Both the license and the certification are set to expire – the state licensure expires every two years (in some states, it expires on every odd-numbered year, on the month of birth of the licensee) while the certification is set to expire every 10 years. Before it does so, you must sit for the recertification examination.