Certified physician assistants (PA-C) are medical providers formally trained in primary care and graduating from one of over 100 accredited academic training programs in the U.S. 
     The average PA student is age 33, has over 4 years of  health-care experience, and a college degree before entering a PA program.  Typical backgrounds of PA students include nursing, EMT, med-tech, paramedic, etc.  Most Physician Assistant Programs last 24-27 continuous months and use the medical school model.
     To remain nationally certified Physician Assistants must complete 100 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) every 2 years and pass a national recertification exam every 6 years.  While over half of all PAs remain in primary care, the rest can be found in every medical and surgical specialty, including dermatology. 

Physician Assistants in Dermatology

     Building on their primary-care training and experience, physician assistants are trained in dermatology in a variety of ways.  Most dermatology PAs are trained on-the-job by their supervising dermatologist.
     All PAs have suture training; most can biopsy and many are able to perform simple and complex excisions.  In a short time, even a PA without previous dermatology training should be able to start independently seeing patients for acne, cryotherapy, skin tags, warts, do wound closures, suture removals, biopsies, and patient education.
     PAs get additional training through their required CME hours, attendance at AAD and other dermatology based conferences, tumor boards, dermatology grand rounds and home-study courses.  They subscribe to dermatology magazines and do self-study via journal and computer programs and the Internet.

    Some physician assistants hold a Master's Degree in PA Studies with a concentration in Dermatology.  In 1998, the first Dermatology PA Residency Program was established.  There are currently two residency programs.
     Many PAs lecture at university PA programs and offer dermatology rotations to PA students; some are dermatology clinical preceptors to family practice residents.

The Dermatologist/PA Team

     Physician Assistants are inter-dependent providers.  As with all physician assistants, dermatology PAs are legally and ethically bound to practice only under their supervising physician, never in competition with them.  Your PA can never open a dermatology office in your community and practice independently.  This sets physician assistants apart from other "mid-level" non-dependent providers.
     Physician Assistants have been practicing with dermatologists for 30 years, providing a wide variety of  services.  PAs diagnose and provide medical and surgical treatment for a wide variety of pathology.
     Derm PAs possess a wide variety of general dermatology and surgical skills.  Some dermatology PAs specialize in areas such as acne, psoriasis, phototherapy and HIV.  Others concentrate in cosmetics; performing sclerotherapy, operating lasers and doing Botox injections.  Still others specialize in surgery; performing a wide variety of surgical procedures and assisting in Mohs.


     Just as with dermatologist's salaries, PA salaries vary depending on demographics, practice size, the PA's abilities and experience.  Physician Assistants who are capable and able to see a variety of patients will bring more money into the practice than PAs who see only acne and eczema and perform only simple surgical procedures.
     Member surveys show yearly salaries range from $50K to well over $100K including bonus incentives.  Billings generated by members range from ~$150K (new grad after one year) to over $600K per year by the experienced derm PA.  Our surveys show the average number of patients seen per day is 28 without the physician.
Reasons for having a Physician Assistant as part of the Dermatology practice:
  • PAs provide superior patient care as an integral part of the Physician/PA team.
  • PAs decrease waiting time for an appointment.
  • PAs help decrease workload, getting the dermatologist and staff home on time.
  • PAs free up the dermatologist to spend more time with complex patients.




Derm PA Website:
Excellent resource for the 
dermatologist and dermatology PA alike.

AAPA Website:
Good general resource on
physician assistants.

Mary Monroe
(Free job recruiting services to 
PAs and dermatologists)
6218 E. 78th Place
  Tulsa, OK 74136 
Home: (918) 523-1992
FAX: (918) 523-1920 


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