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physician assistant

physician assistant (PA), health-care professional who provides patient services ranging from taking medical histories and doing physical examinations to performing minor surgical procedures often called physician's assistant. Physician assistants work under the supervision of a physician, who can be on or off site. PAs receive two years of postgraduate training and pass a national certifying exam. They are licensed by the states. PAs, who typically deliver quality routine health care less expensively than doctors, are an increasingly important part of the American health-care system, as they are in Canada and some European countries.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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