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Health

Physician assistant demand expected to grow 30 percent in next decade

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MorgueFile

The need for more primary medical care providers will increase as the Baby Boomer generation ages. Now another state university has joined the effort to fill the gap.

Physician assistants -- or PAs  -- do many of the same things doctors do: They can perform physical exams, order lab tests, write prescriptions, do some procedures and assist in surgery. They do all this under the supervision of a doctor.

Jay Peterson is with Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. He says EMU will offer a PA master's degree program beginning next summer. He says it's one of the fastest-growing professions in the nation, with an expected 30 percent growth  over the next ten years.

"As far as the salary and other benefits, they're generally quite good for physician assistants, with national averages at least $80,000 a year," Peterson says.

He says the addition of physician assistants will also help ease the strain on emergency rooms, where many people who don't have a primary care  physician wind up.

The first year of the program is in the classroom; the second is on clinical rotations.

Peterson says five other Michigan universities also offer PA master's programs.