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The Surgical PA

What is a Surgical PA?

Surgical physician assistants (PAs) are highly skilled clinicians who have received didactic and clinical training to function in all areas of the peri-operative environment, including pre-admission, testing, intra-operative first assisting, PACU care, SICU care, step-down unit, outpatient clinic, office practice and even home care.

According to the AAPA, there are more than 84,000 PAs in clinical practice alone. The AASPA represents the 35,000 PAs who work in a surgical environment.

What a Surgical PA Does

The key function of a surgical PA is to assist the physician in the global management of patient care in pre-, intra- and post-operative settings. This end-to-end involvement enables surgical PAs to provide unparalleled continuity of patient care.

Surgical PAs typically perform 80% of tasks that their supervising physicians do. Often surgical PAs handle routine problems and procedures, freeing the surgeon to concentrate on more complex patients.

Becoming a Surgical PA

Surgical PAs must complete an accredited PA program, obtaining licensing from each state in which they practice and pass a national certification exam.


Surgical PAs practice in every specialty in which a physician can practice. We have members in general surgery; pre-operative testing; trauma; critical care; anesthesia; bariatric, vascular, cardiac, orthopaedic, and transplant surgeries; emergency medicine; wound care and more.


PA services are reimbursable at a percentage of the physician rate by most major federal programs, insurance companies and workers’ compensation programs.

PA Quick Facts

  • Nearly 50% of new PA grads enter a surgical field
  • Surgical PAs are the FASTEST GROWING segment of PAs
  • More than 68,000 PAs work in clinical practices
  • The PA profession ranked as the 4th fastest growing by CNN and Forbes in 2007
  • View the Employment Outlook

More Information

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