Growth of Physician Assistants – The Expansion of Accessible Medical Care

The most important asset a person has is his health. The world of medicine is changing rapidly, and the shortage of physicians in the United States is increasing, while the demand for health care surpasses the number of available doctors to provide it. According to a study by Council on Graduate Medical Education, after 2015, the increase in population will exceed the rate of the number of practicing physicians. The study predicts a shortage of 85,000 medical doctors by 2020.

Due to the shortage of primary care physicians, thousands of Americans go without health care or wait weeks or months to get in to see their doctor. What a lot of people don’t know is that they can obtain health care without an extended wait. Because of the growing number of physician assistants, Americans have more choices to obtain health care. The United States Military was the first to develop physician assistants in 1965, and the idea spread into the public sector.

A physician assistant is a medical professional that is certified to work under the supervision of a licensed physician to provide a wide and comprehensive range of medical care. Known as PA-C’s, physician assistants offer many of the medical services that were only performed by doctors including diagnostic and therapeutic care, physical exams, diagnosing, treating and managing illness and chronic diseases, performing inpatient care in hospitals and long-term care facilities, and prescription writing. They also assist in surgery.

Physician assistants must complete rigorous education requirements that include classroom and laboratory instruction, supervised rotations in clinical instruction in emergency, family and internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, and orthopedics. Medical students and physician assistants are often side by side in the same classes and rotations. After a physician assistant graduates, he or she must pass a national certification developed by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants. A physician assistant must also complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years. A recertification exam must be taken every six years.

There are thousands of physician assistants who provide excellent medical care. Studies indicate that public opinion of physician assistants is positive affirmation that they can provide just as good medical care than that provided by a medical doctor. Supervising physicians and physician assistants work as members of a team to provide their patients with the best medical care possible. The physician assistant treats many of the same kind of patients the doctor treats, and he or she consults with the supervising doctor as required. Acceptance of physician assistants as primary health care providers is increasing; however, many people still refuse to let a health care provider who is not a licensed physician treat them.

The rapid growth of the physician assistant profession has provided greater access to medical care, particularly in rural areas. Most insurance companies and Medicare will pay for medical services rendered by physician assistants at a rate established by each company. Some states allow physician assistants to be members in their state medical associations.

Physician assistants are an enormous asset to the medical community. The foundation of physician assistants flourished into the exciting profession that it is today. It has allowed medical care to be provided in areas where there previously wasn’t any. Thanks to these highly trained and extremely dedicated professionals, the services they provide alleviate the lack of health care for millions of people nationwide.

© Copyright 2007 Patti McMann. All rights reserved.