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Emerging Occupations

Physician Assistant

This is an emerging occupation. It may have evolved from an existing occupation or emerged in response to consumer needs or technological advances. Physician assistants provide a variety of services including patient education, research and administrative services to support physicians and other health care staff.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 4,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Clinical Assistant, Civilian Physician Assistant

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

This occupation has not yet received an official NOC code. However, it is considered similar to the following historical NOC codes. CAUTION—As this occupation is only similar to these NOC codes, related details and labour market information may not be accurate:

  • 2006 NOC: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (3414) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (D313) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414);  Allied primary health practitioners (3124) 
Skills Shortage*

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

N/A
*This data is for a NOC group that is similar to the Physician Assistant occupation
Average Wage*
Starting
Overall
Top
*This data is for a NOC group that is similar to the Physician Assistant occupation
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Duties
Updated Dec 01, 2016

Physician assistants are highly skilled healthcare professionals who are physician extenders rather than independent practitioners. They enhance the productivity of physicians, which allows more patients to access quality health care.

In general, physician assistants:

  • conduct patient interviews and record medical histories
  • perform physical examinations
  • provide counseling on preventative health care practices
  • order and interpret lab tests
  • perform and evaluate routine diagnostic tests
  • administer immunization and injections
  • provide referrals within the health care system
  • act as a first or second assistant during surgery.

Individual duties may vary depending on factors such as, the physician assistant's competencies and their relationship with the supervising physician.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 01, 2016

Physician assistants work within a health care team under the supervision of registered physicians to provide patient care in various clinical settings. Their schedules and working conditions often depend on what the supervising physician's hours are and where they are working. For example, in a hospital setting they may work rotating shifts of weekends, nights or early mornings. In surgery a setting, they are required to stand for long periods.

  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 01, 2016

Physician assistants need the following characteristics:

  • critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • ability to empathize with patients
  • ability to work under pressure
  • self-motivation and a desire to help patients
  • ability to work effectively in a health care team.
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 01, 2016

The minimum education requirement is two years in a bachelor degree then a two year physician assistant program.

Currently, there are no accredited physician assistant programs offered in Alberta, however, several Canadian post-secondary schools offer accredited physician assistant programs:

  • the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Ontario offers a physician assistant baccalaureate degree program for experienced medical technicians of the Canadian Armed Forces.
  • McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario offers a Physician Assistant Education Program which leads to a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Physician Assistant) degree.
  • the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Medicine offers a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies program.
  • the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine offers a bachelor of Science Physician Assistant degree (BScPA).

The basic entrance requirement is successful completion of at least two years of an undergraduate degree with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of between 2.7 and 3.0, depending on the school. Graduate physician assistant programs require the completion of a four year undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Other common admission requirements include Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status and experience in a patient care settings. Some programs may also have course requirements (for example, in human anatomy, biochemistry, chemistry and physiology).

For current information on programs and entrance requirements please visit the school websites or the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) website.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 01, 2016

Physician assistant (PA) is not a regulated health profession in Alberta. However, voluntary registration with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) is available.

To be eligible to practice as a physician assistant (PA) individuals must have graduated from a Canadian Medical Association accredited program or have obtained the Physician Assistant Certification (PA-C), American designation.

It is recommended that all physician assistants practicing in Canada are certified and have received their Canadian Certified Physician Assistant (CCPA), Canadian designation. To maintain certification and the CCPA designation, 250 continuing professional development (CPD) credits are required every five years.

The Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada (PACCC) administers and maintains the physician assistant certification process.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 01, 2016

Emerging occupations typically are the result of:

  • an increased human need (for example, alternate sources of energy)
  • technological advances
  • greater specialization within an occupation.

Often there are too few people working in an emerging occupation to gather survey information. Therefore, it can be difficult to define advancement opportunities or employment outlook. Some Albertans already are working in this emerging occupation but future demand for physician assistants is unknown.

Physician assistants are employed in:

  • public and military hospitals
  • community-based health centres
  • clinics.

In 2013, Alberta Health Services began a Physician Assistant (PA) Demonstration Project to evaluate the impact of the profession as members of the health care team by integrating physician assistants into several Alberta Health Services facilities.

Physician assistants are trained as generalists; however, work in a variety of specialties, such as orthopaedics, oncology, neurosurgery and psychiatry. As they gain greater clinical knowledge and experience, physician assistants can earn new responsibilities and higher wages. For example, experienced physician assistants may supervise other staff and physician assistant students. However, advancement opportunities are limited without additional education.

In Alberta, most people employed as physician assistants work in the Health Care and Social Assistance (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.
Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 01, 2016

Often there are too few people working in an emerging occupation to gather survey information. Therefore, no current salary data is available for this occupation.


*The physician assistant is similar to this NOC group
Allied primary health practitioners

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $28.88 $49.04 $42.94 $48.00
Overall $32.78 $54.13 $48.42 $54.13
Top $37.55 $61.18 $53.20 $56.43

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

18%
18%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

N/A

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

12%
12%

Vacancy Rate

3%

*The physician assistant is similar to this NOC group
Other assisting occupations in support of health services

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $12.70 $29.84 $20.71 $21.42
Overall $15.00 $34.54 $23.80 $23.56
Top $15.93 $63.15 $30.27 $25.69

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing
Retail Trade

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

54%
54%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

21%
21%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

3%
3%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Community Care Services
    • Health Care Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 01, 2016

Alberta Health Services website: www.albertahealthservices.ca

Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) website: www.capa-acam.ca

Canadian Medical Association (CMA) website: www.cma.ca

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) website: www.cpsa.ca

Council of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (PACCC) website: www.capa-acam.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 23, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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