What is a Physician Assistant? 2017-12-31T00:48:29+00:00

Physician Assistants in Canada

What is a Physician Assistant?

Physician Assistants (PA) are highly skilled health care professionals educated in the medical model who practice medicine.  They graduate from a Baccalaureate or Master’s Degree program that may be affiliated with a medical school. PAs practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician within a patient-centered health care team. PAs can work in any clinic setting to extend physician services, complement existing services and aid in improving patient access to health care.1

  • PAs conduct histories, physical examinations, order and interpret investigations, perform diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, diagnose and treat illnesses, and educate patients on treatment options and counsel on preventative health 
  • PAs assist in surgery, prescribe medications, and perform procedures that fall within their scope of training and experience, as long as it falls within the scope of their supervising physician 
  • A PA’s practice mirrors that of their supervising physician 
  • PAs work to extend physician services, but are not independent practitioners

Frequently Asked Questions about Physician Assistants

How are PAs Educated in Canada?

PAs are trained in the same medical model as doctors. Programs consist of intensive classroom study focusing on establishing the medical foundations across different areas (e.g. cardiorespiratory, GI, anatomy/physiology, etc.), clinical and communication skills, clinical reasoning, while gaining clinical exposure with concurrent placements in clinical settings.

PAs are trained as medical generalists and are able to practice in any area of medicine upon completion of their studies.

The are four PA schools in Canada:

Where Physician Assistants Work

Physician Assistants work in almost any area of medicine. To learn more about a Day in the Life of a Physician Assistant, visit our Canadian PA Practice Profiles.

  • Hospitals

  • Private Office/Clinic

  • ER & Urgent Care Centres

  • Occupational Health

  • Correctional Facilities

  • Military Settings

  • International Humanitarian Missions

  • University Hospitals

  • Telemedicine

  • Retail Health Clinics

  • Research

  • Long term care facilities

  • Family Medicine

  • Emergency Medicine

  • Internal Medicine

  • Orthopaedic Surgery

  • General Surgery

  • Neurosurgery

  • Oncology

  • Physiatry

  • Dermatology

  • Nephrology

  • Rheumatology

  • Cardiology

  • Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery

  • Endocrinology

  • Gastroenterology

  • Geriatrics

  • Hematology

  • Infectious Disease

  • Obstetrics/Gynecology

  • Paediatrics

  • Plastic Surgery

  • Psychiatry

  • Urology

Learn more about Physician Assistants


1 CMA Toolkit (2012, December) What is a Physician Assistant? Retrieved from  https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/PA-Toolkit-e.pdf

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