Healy, who is the nation's record goalscorer having found the net 36 times in 94 caps, has yet to retire from international football, but the 33-year-old is no longer deemed to be worth a regular starting place.
Paterson, 25, said: "I always think if I do get chances to play regularly up the middle I will score goals, take up David Healy's mantle.
"To step into his shoes is something very difficult to do but something I would love to do and something I will work very hard to do. I would love to do that."
Paterson has so far scored one goal in 14 senior appearances for Northern Ireland.