Obstetrics and gynecology assistants are licensed physician assistants who perform medical and administrative duties under the supervision of OB/GYN physicians. OB/GYN medical professionals focus on female reproductive health, pregnancy and delivery, but they can also specialize in areas such as infertility, oncology and emergency services. OB/GYN assistants must earn a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare-related field, satisfy state work experience requirements and complete an accredited physician assistant program before sitting for the PA licensing exam. This training qualifies them to perform many tasks that are typically associated with physicians, such as diagnosing illnesses and examining patients.
OB/GYN physician assistants are able to perform gynecological exams for patients. This includes performing pap smears, screening for cervical cancer and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. They are also trained to diagnose and treat common vaginal conditions such as yeast, bacterial or urinary tract infections, and can perform procedures such as a colposcopy or biopsy. When it comes to surgical procedures, however, OB/GYN PAs are only able to assist a physician, not perform the surgery themselves.
OB/GYN physician assistants provide prenatal and postnatal care to patients. This includes providing a physical examination, obtaining family medical history information and answering any questions patients may have before or throughout their pregnancy. They can also perform ultrasounds and prescribe prenatal vitamins as needed. Typically, OB/GYN assistants help physicians with the actual labor and delivery, as well as procedures such as dilation and curettage and circumcision.
OB/GYN physician assistants often provide information and resources to patients on a variety of issues, including family planning, pre- and postnatal care, and overall reproductive and sexual health. They also educate patients on ways to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, how to prevent teenage pregnancy and even how to perform a breast self-exam.
OB/GYN assistants may also perform basic medical tasks, such as recording patients’ vital signs and collecting urine and blood samples. Additionally, they prescribe medicine, coordinate referrals to specialists and work with physicians to treat patients whose condition or care requires expertise that is outside of the scope of their training. Depending on the size and structure of the practice they work in, some OB/GYN physician assistants supervise other employees, such as medical assistants and technicians.
2016 Salary Information for Physician Assistants
Physician assistants earned a median annual salary of $101,480 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, physician assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $86,130, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $121,420, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 106,200 people were employed in the U.S. as physician assistants.