Surgical Physician Assistant

surgical paSurgical physician assistants extend the services of surgeons by providing patient care before and after surgery. They may additionally help surgeons in the operating room. Other services that surgical physician assistants may provide include interpreting diagnostic tests, closing incisions, physical exams, and counseling patients about treatment.

Surgery PAs work full time jobs that usually include weekend and night shifts as well as overtime. Surgery PAs spend a lot of time on their feet, sometimes standing for several hours in operating rooms. This career can be physical demanding, very stressful and carries an emotional toll, but helping people with illness and injuries can be very rewarding.

Job Requirements

Surgical assistants work under the supervision of a surgeon and must be certified and licensed in every state. They undergo the same training as physician assistants in other specialty fields, including completing a bachelor’s degree, work experience and a physician assistant program. Some surgical PAs also opt to complete a surgery residency.

How to Become a Surgical Physician Assistant

  • Step 1- Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is a basic requirement for entering a PA program. PA programs do not require any specific undergraduate major, but they do have certain course prerequisites. Prospective physician assistants should plan to complete coursework in psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus. It’s also vital to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or even higher, since this is a requirement of many physician assistants programs.

  • Step 2- Gain Experience Working in Healthcare

The American Association of Surgical Assistants indicates that successful applicants to PA programs should have an average of four and half years of health care experience. Several programs do not have an exact number of years of experience that are required, but admissions are usually competitive, therefore applicants will need to prove that they are well prepared for the job. Depending on a student’s undergraduate major, he/she could pursue a job in medical assisting, nursing, or any other healthcare related job.

  • Step 3- Attend a PA Program

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant accredits PA programs. It’s vital that students attend a certified physician assistant program in order to make sure that they are able to get licensed. Most physician assistant programs award a master’s degree after 2 years of study. The first year of this program consists of didactic coursework and the second year is spent completing clinical rotations in different fields of medicine. Gynecology, obstetrics, pediatrics, emergency medicine and internal medicine are some of the areas that a student need to gain experience in.

Job Description for Surgical Physician Assistant

surgical physician assistant

Surgical PAs are responsible for assisting surgeons in carrying out the various surgical procedures. They are responsible for preparing the operation room, handling different operation equipment, preparing the patient for the surgery procedure and assisting the surgeon throughout the surgical process. Surgical PAs are also responsible for post-surgery patient care. Basically, they have to perform all the surgery related functions assigned to them by the surgeons. They receive complete training in surgery physician assistance to perform all such duties efficiently.

If you wish to become a surgical physician assistant, you will be required to complete a certified academic program in this field. A prospective surgical PA needs to have a wide knowledge about surgical procedures, along with pathophysiology, clinical procedures, pharmacology, clinical medicine, and pediatric surgery. They can also major in various areas, such as orthopedic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, general surgery, obstetrical surgery, neurosurgery, gynecological surgery etc.

This profession can provide a lot of career opportunities. Nevertheless it is a medical job with a lot of responsibilities. Thus, it is important to acquire all the essential skills that are required for carrying out a surgical process successfully. Just like any other career, growth in this field requires efficiency, experience and dedication. To get a good salary, one should acquire all the necessary skills needed for successfully assisting a surgeon and ensuring the safety of the patient.


Surgical physician assistant are certified and licensed by each state to practice and must take a national certification examination given by the National Commission for the Certification of physician assistants (NCCPA). Each hospital board then credentials the surgical physician assistant for certain practice privileges, therefore, surgical PAs are able to work anywhere the supervising surgeon has practice rights.