What Countries Can You Practice in as a Physician Assistant?

What Countries Can You Practice in as a Physician Assistant? was originally published on uConnect External Content.

Physician Assistants have become an important part of the U.S. healthcare system. Officially formed in 1965, this profession has grown and expanded and now PAs can be found in all 50 states across the country. With this in mind, you may start to wonder: Where else in the world can Physician Assistants practice?



The Western European country of The Netherlands has the most actively practicing Physician Assistants in any country outside of the United States. Estimates show somewhere over 1800 actively practicing PAs here.

Physician Assistants were officially introduced in The Netherlands in 2001. Similar to the US, PAs were formed in this country to combat growing healthcare shortages, increase access to care, and lower total healthcare costs.

PAs here enjoy full prescriptive authority and practice mostly autonomously. Salaries for PAs in The Netherlands are comparable to those in the US.



Being possibly the easiest geographic and cultural jump from the US, there are many PAs actively practicing in Canada. Current estimates show somewhere over 1000 PAs currently practicing with our friendly neighbors to the north.

PAs officially came into being in Canada around 1984 in a similar manner to how they developed in the US. Initially, PAs were trained military medics transitioning to civilian life and civilian healthcare. The profession has expanded since then in Canada, but not to the degree that it has in the U.S.

PAs help to solve similar problems in Canada that they do in the US: they fill gaps in care, especially in rural and underserved areas. PA salaries in Canada are also similar to those in the United States.


United Kingdom and Ireland

The PA profession in the UK and Ireland is still in its infancy. There is no official governing body for PAs in the UK, so PAs in these countries cannot prescribe medications. There seems to be legislation and governing bodies forming, with some regulation already in place; however, the future of the profession in these countries is still somewhat unclear.

If the UK and Ireland proceed on a similar path to the United States and The Netherlands, it could be expected that prescriptive authority and test ordering capabilities are on the horizon.


Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are somewhat similar to the United Kingdom in their approach to Physician Assistants. While there is now some regulation in place for PAs in these countries, their scope of practice is fairly limited.

The future of PAs in these countries is somewhat unclear. While New Zealand seems to be embracing PAs due to rural healthcare needs, Australia’s heath system functions fairly well without them.


Other Countries

There are many other countries across the world not listed above who have the PA profession in its infancy, have unregulated medical providers adjacent to PAs, or have regulated medical providers similar to PAs.

Some of these countries include India, South Africa, Ghana, Liberia, Germany, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. As mentioned above, there are other countries outside of these that may start to develop future PA programs. As healthcare needs increase with population sizes around the world, it can be expected that Physician Assistants and similar healthcare providers will becoming increasingly necessary.

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