As physician assistants diversify in health care, more are practicing as generalists and specialists in internal medicine. Internal medicine is one of the most versatile medical specialties for PAs because of the broad scope of practice, as well as the variety of work place setting options.

The job market for PAs continues to grow faster than average according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with the average internal medicine PA salary ranging from $85,000 to $95,000 depending on experience and geographic location.

PAs specializing in internal medicine provide comprehensive health care services to adults. Internist PAs provide the following services: conducting patient histories and physical exams; counseling and education regarding diet and lifestyle related to a specific condition or disease; diagnosing disease and illnesses; managing acute and chronic conditions; providing necessary medical prescriptions; and performing minor surgical procedures.

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These PAs are also especially skilled in managing patients who have undifferentiated or multi-system disease processes, which is often a platform for progression into subspecialties such as cardiology, orthopedics, neurology and emergency medicine.

Practice settings for internist PAs range from outpatient medical offices and clinics, to hospitals, to a combination of different settings. Practicing in these different environments is highly advantageous, as it allows the provider to follow a patient through a continuum of care.

Tina Odgie, a PA-C at Brockton Hospital in Brockton, Mass., told Clinical Advisor that following patients through the care continuum is essential to maintaining quality and consistency.

“If I see a patient in the office and then send him to the hospital and am able to follow him in the hospital, I can collaborating with specialists and then schedule an office follow-up after the patient is discharged without missing anything in regard to this patient’s care,” Ogdie said. “I have cared for the whole patient. I love that about internal medicine.”

The nature of the practice allows PAs to establish a long-term patient-caregiver relationship. Providers in this setting have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of medical management, offering patients ongoing care for many years.

Kimberly Buckley is a freelance medical writer.