Physician assistants are focused on providing healthcare services such as conducting physical examinations, treatments and giving advice to patients.
In various healthcare settings, they work under the direction and supervision of physicians. Using their training and experience in working with patients, physician assistants often specialize in a specific area of healthcare such as surgery, critical care, or orthopedics. They can also work as a general physician assistant in family practice medicine.
To be a physician assistant, you must have completed the necessary training. Aside from this, those who are successful in their role demonstrate some common skills and aptitudes, enabling them to deliver patient care compassionately and to the relevant standards.
This article explores these skills and attributes, along with the tests you can use to assess candidates, ensuring you hire the best candidates for the positions you have to fill.
What should a physician assistant be able to do?
A physician assistant‘s duties are centered on the care of patients. Physician assistants can work in both general medicine and as specialist assistants working alongside physicians that deliver medical care.
Using the knowledge gained from their training and experience, and under the direct supervision of the physician, physician assistants perform necessary diagnostic procedures such as X-rays or instruct laboratory tests to be performed, deciding on the best course of treatment and management of conditions.
Following liaison and approval by the physicians they are working with, they may be involved in prescribing suitable medication for patients. Their role also involves medical administration, updating and maintaining patient records, including making notes on patients‘ health and any medical procedures carried out.
In instances of complex cases when working in specialist care, physician assistants directly support the work of a physician, for example, in surgery in more complex cases. They participate in general ward rounds, observe patients, update a patient‘s medical record, and, if required, perform routine treatment such as injections or wound care, ensuring that this information is shared with the patient‘s physician.
Their work also involves liaising with patients and sharing their treatment plans or medical regimens, which will impact their daily life when discharged from the hospital or under routine supervision.
Skills to look for in a physician assistant
There are several critical skills that a physician assistant must have to carry out their role effectively. As a recruiter, it is important to assess candidates against these skills when recruiting.
These skills are essential for fulfilling the varied and daily tasks of a physician assistant. Ensuring that candidates demonstrate these skills leads to better and more successful hires.
Reading comprehension: demonstrating skill in reading and understanding written information enables physician assistants to carry out the instruction of physicians, or to determine and interpret information from other sources such as patient records.
Attention to detail: making decisions based on the information gained from a patient or the results of tests, paying attention to all information gained, enables physician assistants to make the correct decisions based solely on the data they have collected.
Time management: working with others, managing their own time and the time of others in their team ensures that patients receive treatment plans and diagnoses promptly. Effective time management also enables physicians to decide on any follow-up treatment based on the preliminary diagnosis by the physician assistant.
Negotiation: having the skills to articulate your thoughts and persuade others around to your way of thinking using clear and persuasive language is an important skill, required by all physicians when dealing with patients or their supervising physician.
Microsoft Office skills: documenting, updating, and maintaining patient records using the Microsoft Office suite means that physicians need to be proficient in using relevant Microsoft applications.
Useful abilities for a physician assistant
To deliver the highest standard of patient care in a compassionate yet efficient way, physician assistants must possess various inherent abilities. These abilities mean that as a physician assistant, you can carry out your daily patient and administration-related tasks appropriately for the situations encountered.
Oral comprehension: listening to what others are saying, understanding this, and interpreting the key messages of a conversation is an essential ability. A physician assistant draws on their oral comprehension ability when dealing with patients and their supervising physician.
Inductive reasoning: a vital ability required by all physician assistants. Demonstrating inductive reasoning enables them to interpret results and identify links between seemingly unrelated information to infer a coherent and logical conclusion.
Deductive reasoning: using their ability to apply general principles and rules of reasoning between information allows physician assistants to solve problems, and determine the best course of action based only on the information they are presented with.
Numerical reasoning: all physician assistants need to demonstrate strong numerical reasoning abilities. Used in their daily role, this enables physician assistants to perform necessary and routine calculations: for example, related to medical procedures such as calculating dosages for injections.
Oral expression: having an ability to express themselves clearly and concisely, bearing in mind whom they are speaking with, means that as a physician assistant, you can be compassionate in your communications with patients. It also enables them to be articulate in any summary of diagnoses and patient treatment options with physicians when gaining their approval on decisions.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a physician assistant?
There are several pre-employment tests that you can use to ensure you recruit suitable candidates for your vacancies and only those that demonstrate the soft skills needed to be a successful physician assistant.
Accountability: this test is scenario-based and determines whether candidates demonstrate the integrity and discipline to take ownership of their decisions. Using scenario-based questions also provides information on whether candidates are a good fit for the role they have applied for.
Interpersonal skills: a test of whether candidates can communicate effectively with others; this test also requires individuals to demonstrate active listening, pick up on social cues, and looks at how they approach conflict situations.
Decision-making skills: in this scenario-based assessment, candidates are presented with situations they may face when working in the role. The test evaluates their skills in critical thinking and logical reasoning, when making decisions on the best course of action based on the information they have been given.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a physician assistant?
Those successful as physician assistants demonstrate critical technical aptitudes and abilities. When recruiting for this role, you can use several pre-employment tests that reassure you that those you hire demonstrate the abilities needed to perform the role with care and to the highest standard.
Error checking: a test that requires candidates to spot errors or discrepancies in data sets. This test also requires the test taker to work under pressure, pay attention to detail and use their selective focus.
Logical reasoning: this test is designed to evaluate a candidate‘s ability to solve problems and make sense of information - a crucial part of the role of a physician assistant. The test used shapes and images; individuals need to determine the pattern or link between these images and use this to decide which of the images presented follows next.
Situational judgment test: a scenario-based assessment using situations that individuals are likely to encounter when working in the role. This test looks at how candidates approach these situations, their workplace behaviors, traits, and preference for action.
Numerical reasoning: in this timed test, candidates need to use their working knowledge and understanding of mathematical principles such as percentages, ratios, or fractions to solve numerical problems.
Microsoft Word: a test assessing a candidate‘s proficiency in using Microsoft Word as relevant to the role of a physician assistant.
Our recommended test battery for a physician assistant
Based on the skills and abilities needed to be an effective and competent physician assistant, we recommend using the following test battery as part of your recruitment process.
Numerical reasoning: a timed assessment that determines a candidate‘s numerical ability and how well they can cope with working under pressure. This test requires candidates to use their understanding of mathematical concepts to solve numerical problems.
Logical reasoning: assessing individuals‘ ability to think analytically and apply critical reasoning to solve problems. This test also requires candidates to use only the information presented when deciding on the best course of action.
Accountability: a test gives you a deeper understanding of a candidate‘s traits, behaviors, and suitability. This test is scenario-based and allows you to determine whether an individual is a good fit for the organization.
Interpersonal skills: in this test, candidates are evaluated on their skills to adapt their communication style, pick up on social cues, and deal with challenging situations. This test also assesses candidates on their emotional intelligence when working with others.
Microsoft Word: a practical test assessing candidates on their skill level when using Microsoft Word and its functions.
For further information on hiring a physical assistant, visit Picked's physician assistant test page.