Pre-Physician Assistant club hopes to spread awareness for the profession


Freda Li/Observer

Members of the Pre-Physicians Assistant Club hope to educate students about the role physicians assistants play in the health care industry.

Gabrielle Buffington, Staff Reporter

What does a physicians assistant (PA) do? Most people, even those planning to go into the medical profession, have no idea.

“I do… no, no, I don’t,” said junior pre-med Caitlynn Weston. “They’re like nurses, but better. I think they’re one step under a doctor.”

Sabrina Puvalowski, a junior PA major, recently started a Pre-Physician Assistant Club to try to raise awareness of the profession among CWRU students, especially pre-medical students, who will most likely work with a PA at some point in their career.

A PA is a nationally certified, state-licensed medical professional. The field was created in the 1960s due to a shortage of health care professionals. Unlike doctors, PAs don’t complete residency, and are able to start working with patients after a two year program and a certification test.

“[PAs] are certified mid-level health care providers who work with a team of physicians, nurses, nurse aids, or any other health care providers,” said Puvalowski. “They can do a lot of the same things as doctors, like prescribing medicine, analyzing tests, and treating patients, but they’re limited with the things they can do.”

“They can’t prescribe some drugs, such as narcotics, and they can’t be the main surgeon in an operating room, but they can assist in surgery,” she added. “Their abilities also vary in each state. For example, some states allow them to deliver babies, and some do not.”

Another reason Puvalowski created the club was to let students know that there is more than one way to get into the medical field. Puvalowski originally came to CWRU as a pre-med, but after talking to a few different people, she decided that becoming a PA was a better choice for her.

“The more I looked into it, the more I realized it was a better choice for me than the pre-med route,” said Puvalowski. “There is no residency for PAs. They just go to school for three years, and that really appealed to me.”

PAs help to fill the high demand for health professionals. They have a higher turnaround rate, and can get into the field quicker to start working with patients. Because of this, more and more pre-med students are starting to consider switching to the PA field.

“I think [the club] would be a great opportunity to learn more,” said Weston. “I’m not ruling anything out yet.”

The Pre-Physician Assistant Club is holding their next event on Oct. 31. They will host other PA students from Mount Union College and holding a question and answer panel about the profession.