Physician assistants fill a need

  • Follow Opinion columns

As the effects of the new health care reform legislation begins to take hold, one thing is certain: With 32 million people entering the health care system, already-crowded waiting rooms in doctors’ offices soon will overflow. And as the impact of a physician shortage is increasingly felt in hospitals and clinics across the country, we ask: Who will provide all of this newly promised care?

Thankfully, physician assistants are ready to answer this call. PAs are the only health care workers licensed to practice medicine with the flexibility to provide care in a variety of specialty and primary care areas.

Their training in the medical model gives them the skills not only to conduct physical examinations, but also to diagnose and treat illnesses; order and interpret tests; counsel on preventive health care; assist in surgery; and write prescriptions with physician supervision.

IT IS NOT UNUSUAL for some patients to forget that the medical professional treating them is a PA and not a physician because PAs provide the same essential, high-quality care as doctors. Many patients prefer to see physician assistants because they are typically able to spend more one-on-one time with them.

The contributions of physician assistants to the medical field are priceless. They foster a team-based coordinated approach to health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs. In some rural and underserved communities they are the only health care providers for hundreds of miles. They are an integral part of ensuring people have access to the best health care.

Interestingly, PA education programs graduate more than 6,000 providers each year – five times more than family medicine programs – and are able to quickly build a qualified work force. In fact, this year America will reach a milestone of 100,000 certified practicing PAs serving all 50 states.

HERE IN AUGUSTA we are fortunate to have an outstanding PA program at Georgia Regents University, ranked 25th in the nation out of more than 170 programs. Having received accreditation for this in 1973, makes it one of the oldest programs available.

The sweeping changes in health care delivery promised by the administration will require many more medical professionals to deliver the primary care services we all need. With academically prepared and clinically skilled physician assistants being able to perform almost all of the duties of a regular physician, PAs stand ready to deliver patient care and to do so effectively and more affordably.

We remain committed to empower patients to become effective advocates for themselves and in our contributions to a stronger health care system. Through a team-based coordinated approach we deliver an integrated system that effectively extends the reach of medicine and the promise of health care to those most in need. With PAs on the team, we can provide world-class care to all.

(The writers are physician assistant students at Georgia Regents University.)

Comments (6) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Bizkit 11/03/13 - 09:08 am
Wow if they are so great and

Wow if they are so great and we can train them in 2 years why bother with 4 years medical college, 3-7 years of residency to do the same job. PA are great but the letter writer is taking liberties with their abilities. I know some kids who have gone through the MCG-GRU program and I wouldn't trust my life to them-but they aren't physicians who are eally knowledgeable and trained either. They have a place to help physicians-they ARE NOT QUALIFIED AS A PHYSICIAN. The ACA will force medicine to adopt more PA's and through time this will have a negative impact on health care-because we need more fully trained doctors not minimally trained PA. Oh I see they are students and not GRU faculty-so this is just a biased opinion piece. Sorry forget about it.

deestafford 11/03/13 - 09:57 am
During my 27 years in the Army and since I retired years ago

I have had many experiences with PA's and everyone of them has been positive. As a matter of fact, one sewed 40+ stitches in my head in the field where there was no doctor available during Tet of '68 in Viet Nam.

With the implementation of obamacare much more will be done by PA's and nurses. PA's will be the first to tell you what there limitations are and I've never known one to try to do something beyond their limits except when it was an emergency when no one else was available.

prov227 11/03/13 - 10:28 am
You can't have assistants to physicians ...

without physicians and we will be facing a shortage of physicians in personal/primary care if the ACA (aka Obamacare) is fully implemented, although I have been an advocate for the PA concept since its inception in the 1970s. The PAs will be very busy providers of care under Obamacare.

carcraft 11/03/13 - 08:19 pm
Physician assistants and

Physician assistants and Nurse Practitioners are very good at health care maintenance. They are limited in many areas of hands on medical care.

CrystalH0110 11/05/13 - 10:26 pm
Don't forget other mid level providers

PAs are NOT "the only health care workers licensed to practice medicine with the flexibility to provide care in a variety of specialty and primary care areas." You forget that Nurse practitioners are licensed to provide the same medical treatment as a PA, however, the do not require the same direct supervision. Studies have shown that quality of care provided to patients by NPs is equal to that of physicians. Let's not forget NPs will be filling the gap in care just the same as PAs will.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs