What Is A Physician Assistant?

Time for a wellness checkup? Looking for a primary care provider to treat your chronic illness?

A physician assistant (PA) can do those things—and more.


Don’t be fooled by their title: PAs aren’t assistants to a physician. These licensed medical experts can examine, diagnose and treat patients, as well as prescribe medicine. And while they collaborate with doctors, PAs can see patients on their own.

O'Neill, Tim-thumb
Tim O’Neill, PA-C, is one of several physician assistants on Carson Valley Medical Center’s staff of talented and experienced primary care providers.

They see patients in medical offices, hospitals, outpatient centers and other settings. In some clinics, PAs are the primary care providers you might see on a regular basis. Some even specialize—for instance, in family medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics or surgery.

Their specific duties can depend on where they practice, their specialty, state laws and other factors. But in general, PAs can:

• Do physical exams.

• Diagnose and treat diseases and injuries.

• Order and interpret x-rays, bloodwork or other medical tests.

• Create treatment plans.

• Talk to you about ways to stay healthy or manage a chronic disease.

• Assist in surgery.

PAs have a solid medical education and experience. Their background typically includes a master’s degree, state licensing and extensive clinical training.

Carson Valley Medical Center has several PAs on its staff of primary care providers located across six clinics around Carson Valley.

To get connected with a new primary care provider, call our Find-A-Physician hotline at 775-782-1545 or fill out the simple online form at http://www.cvmchospital.org/doc.

Sources: American Academy of Physician Assistants; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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