4 Questions Physician Assistants are Tired of Hearing

Physician Assistant

Image Credit: Megan Au

1. How long until you graduate medical school?

Never.  Just like nurses choose to go to nursing school and doctors choose go to medical school, l chose to go to PA school. Maybe people are trying to get a conversation going or they are genuinely confused about the profession, but I'm never graduating from medical school.

2. "I'm not sure if you'll know the answer to this so you may have to ask the nurse or the doctor..."

This one gets me every single time! I usually just respond with the answer and move on. I'm done explaining my role (and quite frankly there are too many patients to see and not enough time). Maybe next time I'll suggest they Google, "Physician Assistant".

3. So you're Dr. _______'s Personal Assistant (PA)?

Personal assistants are valuable, but I am not one. Many PAs complete an undergraduate degree fulfilling science prerequisites in addition to a significant number of direct patient care hours before being accepted into PA school. We have nothing against personal assistants, nurses, medical assistants, or any other profession - we just want to be known by our own title.

4. You're a Physician's Assistant?

That apostrophe might not mean a lot to you but it gets under a lot of our skin. Firstly, it is grammatically incorrect and secondly, you are giving a doctor ownership of me. While Physician Assistants do work collectively with physicians, by throwing in that apostrophe you are implying that I assist the doctor enabling him to do his/her job (for example: fetching his coffee, creating his schedule, making sure he ate his lunch etc). To be clear, PAs collaborate with doctors and have a wide array of responsibilities from: diagnosing and treating illness, ordering and interpreting tests, developing treatment plans, educating patients on preventative care, assisting in surgery, and writing prescriptions.


We would love to hear from you. What are some questions you are tired of hearing? Comment below!