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Information About Physician Assistants

Frequently Asked Questions About Physician Assistants

Physician Assistants provide high quality health care services in our community.  We hope this information will answer any questions you may have.  If you should have further questions, please ask the physician.

How Does a PA Function?
Is a PA licensed by the State of California?
Is there any difference in fees charged by a PA and a Physician?
What does the -C stand for in PA-C?
More Information About PAs


Certified Physician Assistants (PA-C) are medical providers formally trained in primary care, graduating from one of over 130 accredited academic training programs in the U.S.

Many become subspecialized in areas like dermatology.  Typical backgrounds of PA students include nursing, EMT, med-tech, paramedic, etc.  To remain nationally certified, they must complete 100 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) every 2 years, and pass a national recertification exam every 6 years.  While over half remain in primary care, the rest can be found in every medical and surgical specialty, including dermatology.

How Does a PA Function?

As with all Physician Assistants, dermatology PAs are legally and ethically bound to practice only under the supervision of their employing physician, never in competition with them.  Physician Assistants have been practicing with dermatologists for 30 years.  They are allowed to see patients independently, diagnose, order and interpret lab tests, prescribe medicines, and provide medical or surgical treatment of a wide variety of clinical pathology.  In this practice all treatment plans are reviewed by the supervising dermatologist and initial visits usually include a visit by the dermatologist.

Is a PA licensed by the State of California?

Yes.  To practice in California, each PA must pass a rigorous national examination before being licensed by the Physician Assistant Committee, which is part of the Medical Board of California.

Is there any difference in fees charged by a PA and physician for the same service?

In many medical offices the charges are the same regardless of which healthcare provider is seen.  As a general rule, the PA spends a great deal of time with their patients.  A PA emphasizes preventative care and patient education, which may reduce the number of return visits.  Some insurance companies require that the services by a Physician Assistant be billed under the supervising dermatologist name.  All treatment plans are reviewed and approved by the supervising dermatologist.

What does the -C stand for in PA-C?

Certified; Meaning that the Physician Assistant has passed a National Certifying exam given by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

More Information about PAs can be found by contacting these PA societies

California Academy of Physician Assistants
3100 W. Warner Ave, Suite 3
Santa Ana, CA 92704-5331

American Academy of Physician Assistants
950 North Washington Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Society for Dermatology Physician Assistants
PO Box 701461
San Antonio, TX 78270

American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants
PMB 201 4267 NW Federal Highway
Jensen Beach, FL 34957